Bolivia Climbs with International Mountain Guides
With some of the Western Hemisphere's best high altitude climbing, you can't beat Bolivia for practicing your mountaineering skills! These programs are suitable for climbers in excellent physical condition with solid Mt. Rainier type skills (crampons, ice axe, roped glacier travel).
If you have a Himalayan Peak in your sights for the future, Bolivia is a great training ground. With their high altitudes, the mountains bear a striking resemblance to the rugged peaks of Himalaya. From Ama Dablam to Cho Oyu, Lhotse, or Everest if one of these is your goal, these Bolivian mountains are great training.
Pequeño Alpamayo, Huayna Potosi and Illimani
Our July expedition is the classic Bolivia trip that we have done for many years, and it is a great introduction to high altitude climbing. We start with a couple nice training climbs in the Condoriri area of the Cordillera Real like Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482'). Then, we head over to Huayna Potosi (19,974'). 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 members who can stay longer, we offer the Illimani (21,200') 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.
NEW TRIP: Parinacota and Sajama
For our August expedition we head south across the Altiplano to Sajama National Park. Our first goal is an ascent of Parinacota (20,807') which is one of the "Twins." This attractive peak is a great chance to acclimatize before we move to Sajama (21,458'), the highest mountain in Bolivia at over 6500 meters! Sajama is a huge volcano, one of the largest in the world. The climbing is strenuous with solid snow and ice climbing skills required. Like the July expedition, our August trip is supported by porters and mules so you do not have to carry heavy backpacks. This Sajama trip has a slightly more aggressive acclimatization profile than the July expedition, and is recommended for climbers with some high altitude experience. Maybe you have previously been to Bolivia and wish to take another trip to this fantastic country and climb a couple more big mountains!
The Bolivia program is organized by Eric Simonson and Greg Vernovage, assisted by our top IMG senior guides and our Bolivian guides (trained by Carlos Escobar, one of the most experienced Bolivian climbers). IMG Guide Andy Polloczek will be leading again for us in Bolivia for 2016. Andy has climbed for IMG in many areas around the world, including leading the IMG Hybrid team to the summit of Mt. Everest and is a very popular guide and leader. With our top quality accommodations in the city and camps, and great guides, the Bolivia trip is about as good as it gets for combining fun travel and challenging high altitude climbing. We are looking forward to doing it again in 2016!
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 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 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.
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).
Eric Simonson and Greg Vernovage, IMG Bolivian program directors