November 16, 2010
Off to Illimani I went. After driving until the road ended, we got out of the car with everything we needed for the climb. Illimani, which means Golden Eagle, was said to be a little dry at this time of year. I wanted to check it out. We loaded a few mules with the gear and hiked to base camp. The Base Camp provided a great view of our objective as well as flat ground cut smooth by Llamas, mules, horses, sheep and pigs. The running glacier stream was next to us as well. As the evening came in, we were given a great view of the lights of La Paz .
The next day we moved to High Camp, which was a good walk with some rock scrambling, leaving us plenty of time to hydrate, eat and check out the next nigh’ts climb. Early the next morning we left the High camp, walked for about 15 minutes to get on the glacier, then made our way through and around a number of cracks and ridges. It was fun climbing and good route finding in the dry glacier conditions of the autumn. Then, we came to the bergschrund, at about 6,000m. Getting over it was not a problem, and the next two hours proved to be some of the best climbing I have done in Bolivia. We made our way up through a mix of snow and ice. The reward was beautiful long summit ridge which gave great views of both sides of the Cordillera Real range.
At over 6,000m you are not moving too fast, so you might as well take in the views. Arriving at the summit was fantastic. We were well above the clouds and had amazing views of mountains like Huayna Potosi which you can see from the summit looking down the ridge. It is a big summit with plenty of room to walk around a bit and take pictures. In every direction there was a new photo. I sat down next to Roberto, eating and drinking. There are quite a few mountains to climb in this area called Illimani. He told me that there are 5 peaks over 6,000 m. The main “cumbre” (Summit) was where we sat, at 6,450 m (21,161 ft). One of the best climbing days!
Two 6,000 meter peaks in Bolivia and I’m ready for more. For now, though, how about some local celebration food and “A” beer before I head over to Ecuador.