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Huayna Potosi

Huayna Potosi

Huayna Potosi

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Cordillera Real, Bolivia, South America

Lat/Lon: 16.2667°S / 68.1833°W

Object Title: Huayna Potosi

Elevation: 19974 ft / 6088 m


Page By: El Tigre Valderrama

Created/Edited: Nov 22, 2001 / Aug 4, 2005

Object ID: 150675

Hits: 66165 

Page Score: 94.82%  - 49 Votes 

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The Huayna Potosi, one of the mountains one can see on the Cordillera Real in Bolivia, is one of the preferred acclimatization peaks on the area. Not only the climb on its standard route is easy, but also the access to this mountain is simple. The mountain looks like a huge "Matherhorn" from far away, and one might think its faces are easy and direct. In reality the peak offers plenty of different environments for climbers, and the glaciers and slopes of its normal route are not easy task for the alpinist operating at 5000 or 6000 meters.

Approach to the East face climbs.

The East face includes at least the following routes: Normal, Vía de los Franceses, Bordaz Muñoz, and South-West Ridge.

From the city of La Paz, you can take a transport that will take you to the "Zongo Pass". Either arrange your own transportation (80 dollars in 1999!) to this area or try to take one of the buses that depart from El Alto (that poor town on the highest part of La Paz), in La Plaza Ballivian (Ballivian Square). They do not depart on an specific schedule, so you will have to wait for one. Alternatively you can try to “free ride” on one of those “gringo vans” that are part of organized climbs.

You can also hang out in the Hotel Torino, downtown La Paz and try to find other climbers aiming to go to the Huayna Potosi. I placed a note in one of the billboards and in a matter of a day I had two Climbing partners. Through one of them I met my wife! So keep on going! Another good place to hang out and meet climbers, used to be the Restaurant MONGOS. Check your guidebook.

Keep in mind that the return can be a problem. If you do not have a way to get back to La Paz you can wait from one hour to a couple of days at the Zongo Pass, although during the high season is quite busy and you can get a ride easely.

Once in Zongo Pass you can ask for porters. The family who lives there also can provide this service and believe me, it is best to get this help.

There are several places to camp when climbing the east face of the Huayna Potosi. One good option, for those in acclimatization stage is to camp next to the Zongo Pass house or to stay at the hut “Refugio Huayna Potosi” (tel: 323584, check it up once in La Paz). Next, get to the first campsite (Campo de Rocas, 5150), next to the glacier, and stay there and the next morning attempt the summit. Or stay the one night in this campsite and then get to the second campsite, the Campamento Argentino (5540Mts or 17880 ft) two hours after the start of the glacier. Acclimatized and fit climbers can do the whole summit attempt from bottom to top in one go, via the standard route.

Remember: getting to the Campmento Argentino may not be necessary (climb high, sleep low) if you go for the standard route, so you can stay in the first camp. Other routes may need a time saving approach and you may be required to stay at the second camp site, shaving out about one hour from the first camp.. This campsite is on the ice and snow… and considering the crevasses, and the altitude…..is your choice.

Other Information

Please visit the site of Brazilian Climber Andre Zancaro, "
Campo de Altitude". You can see there pictures of Huayna Potosi

More Information about Bolivia:

The CIA World Fact Book

The US Library of Congress


The "Instituto Geográfico Militar" (IGM) provides maps on scale 1:50000. This is the sheet:

IGM Milluni 5945 II. Walter Guzman/Huayna Potosi

Be aware of the Bolivian maps. It has been reported that they have several errors.....

Guide Book: from, unfortunately deseaced mountaineer Yossi Brain:

Bolivia, a Climbing Guide. Brain, Yossi, The Mountaineers, 1999

also, another guidebook is:

La Cordillera Real de los Andes-Bolivia, by Alain Mesili (www.andes-mesili.com), comes in English under he title "Andes of Bolivia"

Lonely Planet Bolivia. Swaney, Deanna, 4th ed.

Food: I hire food from the locals, so I did not mind, but I have a South American stomach and I can heat a garbage truck and not likely get sick. Anyway, the way to go is on the markets in La Paz, where you can buy a bunch of things from milk to spaghetti, cookies and chocolates. You will likely stay downtown La Paz while you acclimatize, and plenty of “mercados” are there for you.

You can also buy Propane-Butane mix and white gas. You can re-sell these unused cilinders before you leave (and indeed all of your gear)

When to climb

June, July and August are the best months to climb, but the season is from May to September. This is the Bolivian winter, which is dry and normally the weather is quite stable. On August expect some wind, and later, November to March, the temperature is higher and the rain will make any climb umpleasent and dangerous, since the coctail of hot weather plus rain plus snow is not very apealing.

External Links

Additions and Corrections

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brankoiUntitled Comment


Hasn't voted

On the Zongo Pass (start of the Normal Route on Huayna Potosi) was investigated in winter 1998 by Branko Ivanek for its water ice potential. On the 23rd July, Ivanek and Bolivian guide, Marco Soria, climbed an 80m icefall on the flanks of Pico Milluni (5,400m and home to the excellent French route up the Central Couloir: 440m: D). The route, which was christened Amistad, began at an altitude of 4,940m and involved two pitches on ice that was five to 10cm thick and up to 90°.

On the 27th August, Ivanek returned to solo two icefalls on the right-hand side of the lower part of the Huayna Potosi Glacier. Zongo Light was 80m high with a maximum angle of 80° and graded (USA/French) III/3+, while Cha'qui was 140m in height with a maximum angle of 70° and graded II/2+. However, prior to this exploration British climber, Neil Brodie and Patrick Berthet from France had climbed two icefalls on the 13th June. Located to the right of Amistad, Branko Blues was graded III/5, while Bolivian Journeys received a grade of III/4+.

Posted Sep 27, 2002 6:32 am
keimbeggraUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

public bus: 1 a day, 5 am from Plaza Ballivan/El Alto but very packed and area not safe in darkness


shop around , you should get a taxi from downtown to Paso de Zongo for about 15-18 US $ (haggle hard) -

you can agree with the driver that he picks you up again,but don´t count on it - almost no public transport going back from Paso de Zongo after midday (no pt on sunday) - you can ask at the COBEE (electrical company) at Paso de Zongo if they could contact their collegues further down in the valley, sometimes they drive you to El Alto in one of their pickups
Posted Dec 31, 2005 8:40 pm
HalikuCurrent transport


Hasn't voted

Costs from Bolivian Mountains for roundtrip transport to the pass was $100 USD.


Posted Jun 11, 2008 9:15 pm
cyclistaRe: Current transport


Hasn't voted

Somebody is making easy money in "Bolivian Mountains". Round trip on a public rural bus from El Alto is about $5 USD:)
Posted Oct 20, 2013 8:56 am
Haliku2nd refuge


Hasn't voted

There is second refuge at ~17k. Details at http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=35739


Posted Jun 11, 2008 9:18 pm
matthias.pabstClimbing Season


Hasn't voted

it can be possible to climb Huayna Potosi all year round depending on how lucky one gets with the weather. I climbed it with a tour in January 2014 without big problems. The nice thing is that there's not as much traffic on the mountain and it doesn't get as cold. Weather on the other side is less stable and higher probability of summiting in a cloud and not seeing anything...
Posted Apr 14, 2014 5:42 pm
richardpattison5 min video


Hasn't voted

You can watch a 5 minute video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-tF76IZE4s
Posted Jul 29, 2014 2:33 pm

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