Bolivia with International Mountain Guides
Dear Prospective Bolivia Team Member:
Thank you for your interest in our IMG climbing program in Bolivia. For 2013 we will again climb three great peaks in the Cordillera Real: Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482'), Huayna Potosi (19,974') and Illimani (21,200') as well as an opportunity in June to climb the highest peak in Bolivia, Sajama (21,463'). This program is suitable for climbers in good physical shape with Mt. Rainier experience (crampons, ice axe, roped glacier travel). These are excellent high altitude training climbs, with good access and reasonable technical challenges. The Bolivia climbs will be led by IMG Senior Guide Greg Vernovage assisted by our top Bolivian guides (trained by the late Carlos Escobar, one of the most experienced Bolivian climbers, and longtime IMG Bolivia partner).
Greg had a great trips to Bolivia in 2011 and 2012, and the team was successful on all the summits! (See the photo gallery.) We are looking forward to doing it again in 2013. Bolivia is a great place for climbing!
For June, we are adding a new 2 week program with Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482') and/or other 5000m warm-up climbs in the Condoriri area of the Cordillera Real, then an ascent of Sajama (21,463'), the highest peak in Bolivia.
For August, we will again do Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482') and/or other 5000m warmup climbs in the Condoriri area of the Cordillera Real, then an ascent of Huayna Potosi (19,974'). If you have the time, add the higher and more technical Illimani (21,200').
Bolivia's mountain scenery is spectacular, Indians colorful, and ruins thought-provoking. It has been called the Tibet of the New World. And like Tibet it has a grand history of civilization. Ruins of the prominent Inca and Amayra Peoples still stand, and many still live by the lessons in farming and ranching developed and taught by their ancestors hundreds of years ago.
This country also seems to be the land of the "highest," claiming the highest commercial airport, highest capital city, and the highest navigable lake in all the world! At an altitude of 11,900 feet La Paz nests in a gigantic bowl 1600 feet below El Alto, the city's international airport. The mountains of the Cordillera Real (Royal Range) rise sharply towards the sky in the background and are as striking as any to be found in South America.
Getting off the plane at 13,000' will be a bit of a shock as you start hauling your duffels around the airport. You will quickly be reminded that you are at altitude. One of the most critical factors determining our success in the mountains of Bolivia will be our ability to acclimate well. While acclimatizing, there is plenty to do and see while in La Paz. An afternoon will be spent introducing you to the unique city of La Paz. We'll spend time wandering through colorful outdoor markets where the local people sell everything from fruit and vegetables to antiques and musical instruments. If you like, you can even outfit yourself with a few charms from the Witches Market, "guaranteed" to bring you health, wealth, and happiness.
Our visit to Bolivia wouldn't be complete without a trip to Lake Titicaca. We'll lunch on freshly caught trout and charter a small boat to take us out to the Island of Suriki where we will visit the Amayra Indians who helped Thor Heyerdahl build the famous reed boats Ra II and Tigress for his exploratory expeditions. Our overnights will be at Copacabana, a beautiful lakeside resort.
After our acclimatization, we are ready for the mountains! For both the June and August trips, we go first to the Condoriri area, where there are a number of good training and acclimatization climbs including Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482') and Condoriri (18,530'). After several days of training and acclimatization climbing, we head to Sajama (June trip) and Huayna Potosi (August trip). These are very rewarding climbs which require the use of fixed lines and running belays, as well as solid basic snow and ice climbing skills. After our ascents we'll return to Base Camp, and then the next day to La Paz for a good meal and a night at the hotel.
For our August Huayna Potosi climbers, we offer Illimani as an extension. This is a more technical climb, which is suited to climbers with additional acclimatization under their belts. For this one we drive east, over a high pass to a village where we'll load the bulk of the gear onto a few pack animals and begin our hike into base camp at about 15,000 feet. The next day, we'll hike from base camp to our high camp, Nido de Condores (the Condor's Nest) perched at 18,000 feet. The route from base camp will take us onto a rock ridge and involves some very minor rock scrambling. The Illimani summit day sees the team climbing a narrow snow ridge, presenting some exposed climbing using running belays and fixed lines, with a classic finish along the very narrow ridge leading to the summit of Illimani.
Following our ascents the team will return to La Paz for a final night. Members are free to leave the next day (many flights to/from USA arrive/depart early in the morning). However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can allow one extra contingency day.
IMG Bolivian program director