||Arrive La Paz and overnight at hotel
||La Paz exploration and city tour
||Depart La Paz for the Cordillera Real, trek into first camp at Rifugio Ajuane (4hrs)
||Trek over a pass at 4,600m/15,000ft and continue to next camp at Laguna Sistana (6 hrs)
||Trek over mountain passes and onwards to Refugio Juri Khota to camp
||Trek out of the valley and transfer back to La Paz for the night
||Preparation day in La Paz for the remainder of the expedition
||Visit the ancient Tiwanaku Archaeological site
||Drive to the Condoriri trail head and hike to Base Camp in the Condoriri Valley (4,600m/15,000ft)
||Work on climbing skills and ascending peaks in the Condoriri Cirque area, potential peaks are Pico Austria, Pico Tarija and Pequeño Alpamayo, among others in the area
||Trek out and drive to Rifugio Casa Blanca to camp for the night
Begin the ascent of Huayna Potosi and establish High Camp at (5,500m/18,000ft)
||Climb Huayna Potosi (6,088m/19,974ft) and return to La Paz
||Either depart for home or spend a day in La Paz preparing for the Illimani ascent if continuing on
||Drive from La Paz to Pinaya meet the arrieros and their horses and trek to Base Camp at Puente Roto (4,600m/15,000ft)
||Climb to Nido del Condór High Camp (5,500m/18,000ft) with the assistance of the porters
||Climb to the summit of Illimani (6,438m/22,401ft) and descend to Base Camp or Pinaya
||Return to La Paz for an evening of celebration and relaxation
||Depart for home
Topics intended to be covered during instruction include:
- selection and use of personal equipment
- anchors for fixed and running belays
- selection and use of ropes, knots, and harnesses
- an introduction to high altitude physiology
- design and selection of technical equipment
- response to high altitude illness
- principles of glacier travel
- nutrition during extended trips at altitude
- belaying techniques on snow and ice
- introduction to natural hazards evaluation
- French and German cramponing techniques
- crevasse rescue procedures
- principal ice axe positions
- concept and application of the self-belay
- route finding and evaluation.
After spending two days in the city of La Paz, we head north to the central region of the Cordillera Real. We begin our trek and travel over a series of valleys and passes over a period of three days, and enjoy camping out each night. This is an opportunity to take in the scenery and enjoy spotting the native wildlife. After a final day of trekking, a vehicle is waiting to transport us back to La Paz, where we will have a day to prepare for the next stage of the adventure.
The next day we visit the Tiwanaku Archaeological Site, a ruined ancient city near Lake Titicaca. Dominating the ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage site, once the seat of the pre-Columbian Tiwanaku culture, are the Akapana Pyramid and a semi-subterranean temple with carved images of human heads. Nearby Kalasasaya is an open temple with stone monoliths and the huge Gate of the Sun arch.
We then drive to the foot of the central Cordillera Real and proceed to a trailhead, where we meet our llamas and support staff. With the animals carrying the bulk of our gear, we make an easy-paced ascent to our Base Camp. The trek takes us through some beautiful valley landscapes and our camp provides excellent views of the many surrounding mountains.
We tailor our schedule of instruction and practice climbing to suit the needs of the participants acclimatising at different rates. We give instruction in climbing technique on a glacial practice area near our camp, while team members gradually acclimatise to the higher altitudes, and then cover additional skills in the process of making summit climbs. Possible peaks include Pico Austria (5,320m/17,454ft), Pico Tarija (5,344m/17,533ft) and our primary goal, Pequeño Alpamayo (5,917m/19,412ft); a hidden peak with a very impressive pyramidal summit. We climb a broad glacier to a col, traverse along a ridge to the base of the summit pyramid and then ascend directly to the top. The entire route is photogenic, offers excellent climbing and makes use of all the skills taught earlier in the programme.
We then move south past a series of colourful altiplano lakes and make our way to the Zongo Pass, right at the very foot of Huayna Potosi. We camp a night at Casa Blanca Refugio before taking a full day to establish a high camp at 5,500m/18,000ft. Setting off from camp the following morning with sunrise over the Amazon Basin to our east, we climb a beautiful route which includes serious glacier travel and intermittent sections of moderately steep ground—challenging climbing but well within the skill level developed by the climbing team during the preceding days of the program. With Huayna Potosi’s summit (approximately 6,088m/19,974ft), a well-defined point at the end of a beautifully sculptured ridge and the last few steps to the top provide an exhilarating finish to a great climb.
Following our ascents above, we return to La Paz and return home, or for those also completing the Ilimani Ascent, spend a day and a half to preparing for this next stage of the expedition.
We leave the city, travelling south-east over very rugged roads to a small settlement, where we meet our arrieros and their llamas. With our gear loaded, we climb gradually higher while enjoying brilliant views of Illimani. In this region, Aymara life is very traditional with thatch-roofed homes constructed of mud brick and stone, and villagers busy attending to the soaking, drying and freezing of their potatoes in what must be the world’s original freeze-drying process.
We establish Base Camp at Puente Roto (4,572m /15,000ft), where in the evening we enjoy the beautiful view of the sunset over the Altiplano.
The next day, we make a 915m/3,000ft ascent up trails and a rock ridge to reach a snowy bench at Nido del Condór High Camp (5,500m/18,000ft). From this camp, we get great views into the enormous, steep-walled cirque of Illimani and across Lake Titicaca into Peru. The next morning we begin our ascent of the peak’s steep Southwest Buttress. The route is broken by a series of large crevasses and we carefully zig-zag our way up, using snow bridges and ice ramps where we can to shorten our route.
Eventually, we climb a 40 to 45-degree glacial face and gain the final ridge to the summit. A gently rising, exposed and very photogenic finish that provides some of the finest views in the Andes. Always scenic and offering rewardingly varied alpine climbing, this is an exciting expedition on one of South America’s greatest peaks.