Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bolivia September 2010

Condoriri to Huayna Potosi Trek & Volcan Sajama Climb

I had wanted to return to Bolivia ever since we climbed Illimani in 1998. When Geir Ulstein suggested we climb Bolivia's highest mountain, Volcan Sajama, I was quick to concur. I spent three days acclimatising in Peru before meeting up with Geir in La Paz. We then continued the acclimatization with three days of trekking from Condoriri to Huayna Potosi in the Cordillera Real. Then, after two days of rest in La Paz, we headed West to the Sajama National Park for our main objective. Unfortunately, I picked up some stomach bug in La Paz and never made it higher than 5700 m (18700 ft) on Sajama. Geir did much better and successfully summitted Sajama on a 10 hour long summit day. Lots of penitentes made it a long summit day.

This first picture shows a panorama of the Eastern part of the Cordillera Real rising above the Altiplano with Ancohuma and Illampu on the left and the Condoriri group on the right. We would trek up to the Condoriri basecamp and then head West to Refugio Huayna Potosi over three days of great trekking at elevations between 14700 and 16700 ft.

Trailhead at the small village of Tuni, elevation 14740 ft.

Lots of Alpacas and Llamas, and they weren't particularly shy.

Aren't they cute!

Condoriri (18530 ft, 5648 m) makes an impressive backdrop on the first day of trekking.

The Condoriri group at sunset with basecamp in the foreground.  This area has lots of great trekking, camping and climbing.  I will have to return someday to spend some more time here.

Condoriri summit pyramid.  The normal route follows the facing ridge.

Glacier with normal route leading to Pequeno Alpamayo (5370 m, 17620 ft)

Panorama looking back at the Condoriri group from the West.

Locals enjoying the scenery.

Between Condiriri and Huyana Potosi we crossed 3 valleys and 4 passes (up to about 5100 m, 16700 ft). This shot shows the arid conditions climbing out of one of these major valleys.

Lunch at an abandoned farm house along the way.

Second night camp-site at sunset. Wide open and beautiful.  As soon as the sun sets it gets very cold. Luckily it didn't blow too much while we were there.

The three day trek ended at the Huaya Potosi refugio.

Huyana Potosi (19996 ft, 6094 m) - the normal route goes up the scree slopes and glacier in center and the accesses the right hand ridge. Look closely and you can make out parts of the trail up the normal route.

Geir (right) and Dr. Hugo (Dr. Hugo Berrios Martin is the founder of Refugio Huayna Potosi).

Illimani (6492 m, 21300 ft) in the sunset as seen from downtown La Paz

Volcan Sajama rises above the desert. Sajama is Bolivia's highest mountain at 6530 m (21424 ft). It was the main objective of our trip.

Impressive volcano even though a lot of the ice-shield has melted.

Volcan Sajama seen from the town of Sajama.

Hiking in to basecamp with Pomerape (6222 m) and Parinacota (6132 m) in the background. These fine volcanoes straddle the Bolivia-Chile border.

Sajama in the sunset as seen from basecamp.

Heading up the very loose screen towards highcamp.

Highcamp on Sajama at about 5500 m (18050 ft).

The slopes leading to the canaleta and the glacier edge.

Geir returning after successful summit attempt.

Heading back out with Sajama in the background.

Waiting for transportation. From here we headed down to the village of Sajama for hot food and a beer.

Heading back to La Paz the next day. The Sajama National Park is basically a desert.

Returning to La Paz with its congested traffic and pollution. Huayna Potosi can be seen rising over the smog of El Alto outside La Paz.

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