Cerro Charquini offers a very nice and scenic acclimitazation climb to 5392m (17,690') before heading off to higher elevations. It is just a few miles southeast of Huayna Potosi, and is easily accessed from Laguna Zongo (4760m). Although access to the mountain is easy, we didn't encounter anyone else on it, and came across only one other person on our exit. This was during the high season (July 2003). The mountain offers fantastic views of Huayna Potosi, the Zongo Valley, and other peaks in the region. Herds of llamas can also be encountered along the way.
Crampons and Ice Axe are necessary for the glacier on the Aqueduct (Normal) Route. Crevasses were small, but we roped up to practice moving as a rope team.
Maps: The 1:50,000 scale Milluni, Bolivia Map. This covers Huayna Potosi as well, and can be bought at several climbing shops on Ave Sagarnaga in La Paz.
Food: You can buy meals at the Refugio, but bring all of your camping food from La Paz. There is water all along the aqueduct route. Be sure to filter/treat all of your water.
Getting to the mountain is the same as getting to Huayna Potosi. From La Paz, arrange transport to Laguna Zongo. This takes about 2 hours or less. Bring your passport with you for the pointless but police-manned checkpoint at Milluni. The hike starts from the Hydroelectric Plant, across the road from the Refugio Huayna Potosi at Laguna Zongo.
No permits or fees are required to climb Charquini.
When To Climb
The best months to climb are June, July and August, but the season is from May to September. This is the dry season in Bolivia and the weather is normally stable and predictable.
You can stay overnight at the Refugio Huayna Potosi, or at Yolanda's house, which is about a mile down the road (south) from the Refugio. There are a few areas you can bivy close to the mountain, but it is normally climbed as a dayhike from the Refugio.