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free Bolivia beta?

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free Bolivia beta?

Postby Brittany » Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:20 am

Anyone been to Bolivia? We're a little stoked on photos at the moment and are considering planning a trip for the near-ish future with alpine/mountaineering type climbs in mind. Looking for general tips/recommendations from anyone who's been there- I've been through the info here but would like some firsthand advice.

Availability of route info? Would we expect to see many other climbers at 'the' mountain ranges in season? Photos seem to show quite a bit of snow most of the time but I'm not sure if that's do to the season they're taken- is there more of an alpine rock type season for some areas or should we expect straight alpine all year? Ease of tavel to/from climbing or mountain areas?

Gracias in advance.

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Re: free Bolivia beta?

Postby rgg » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:26 pm

I climbed in Bolivia in 2009, from late August until the end of September. That's the tail of the dry season, which starts in May or so. Dry really means dry there. I saw virtually no rain or snowfall, neither in La Paz nor in the mountains.

In the Cordillera Real, the weather was so stable, we succeeded on every climb we started! Usually, we had excellent views as well, only once did we find ourselves in clouds on a summit. In the last week, we went to the volcanos of Sajama NP. First, we hiked up on Parinacota (I wouldn't call it climbing - being late in the dry season, there wasn't all that much snow anymore, and we didn't need crampons, ice axe or rope). It was very cold in the early hours. Finally, on Sajama, our last climb, the weather caught up with us. Visibility was excellent, but the winds were coming on strong and we didn't want to be blown off the mountain. Literally. And as if that wouldn't have been reason enough, the windchill made it so cold, I was afraid that we would have risked frostbite on our hands and feet.

The busiest mountain of all is Chacaltaya (5395m). Every day, one or more buses drive tourists from La Paz to a very basic ski lodge less than half an hour from the summit, which offers great views over the Cordillera Real and down to La Paz. Great for acclimatization, but not exactly an alpine adventure.
The busiest big one by far is Huayna Potosi. In the climbing season there will be guided parties almost daily, many with tourists that never climbed a mountain before. After that, the Condoriri group and Illimani in the Cordillera Real, and Sajama and Parinacota in the Cordillera Occidental see a fair bit of climbers, but you may still find yourself alone on the mountain.


Ancohuma and Illampu usually don't get much traffic. As expected, we were the only team on Ancohuma, but when we got to Illampu base camp, there just happened to be a course for aspiring mountain guides going on, so there were actually lots of tents! There was a nice atmosphere in that camp actually, and our two porters were happy to spend some time with friends while we climbed.
You can read more about it in my trip report.

Saludos, Rob

High tea at Ancohuma high camp
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Re: free Bolivia beta?

Postby Brittany » Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:50 pm

Great, thanks for that. And awesome photos!

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Re: free Bolivia beta?

Postby kevin trieu » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:31 pm

i was there last season climbing Sajama & Acohuma. transportation is relatively easy and cheap. my friends and i did everything using public transportation. let me know if you have specific questions. SP has good beta on the peaks down there. the crowd depends on which peak you climb. beware of theft on popular peaks and not so popular ones. negotiate for everything. don't forget the touristy stuff like the Uyuni Salt Flat or the Bolivian Amazonas. you can be in the freezing high Andes to steaming hot jungle in 45 minutes.
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Re: free Bolivia beta?

Postby BLong » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:13 am

I put up a pretty thorough trip report from ~4 year ago: http://www.summitpost.org/an-expedition ... des/547342

Bolivia is incredible! GO!
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Re: free Bolivia beta?

Postby Joe Glennie » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:26 pm

I was there last year in June and July. Climbed a few peaks in the Southern Cordillera Real including Pequeno Alpamayo and Huayna Potosi (both very popular with several other people on them) and a couple of quieter ones. We got help from Hugo Berrios http://www.huayna-potosi.com/ who provided a kind of base camp service so we got a taxi / mules / porter / cook, basically got from the centre of La Paz to Condoriri base camp without having to think, which certainly helps! And our porter / cook / guide then acted as a camp guard to look after our stuff when we were up the mountains. We also walked from Condoriri to Huayna Potosi which is a beautiful walk (2 days) with great views of the west face of HP.

I also climbed Parinacota, which logistically was extremely easy - got the Arica bus from La Paz, stayed at a place in Laguna (right where the bus stops) where a family let out a couple of rooms, and the man of the house drove me up to the bottom of Parinacota and waited for me while I wandered to the top and back, then drove me back again! Not the best weather while I was out there, but ok, and having plenty snow on Parinacota must be good - more snow, less sand! Wasn't busy either, I was the only person on the mountain and the only other tourist I met was a Swedish cyclist passing by on his way from Santiago to Lima.

The five day jeep trip around the salt flats and deserts of the south is well worth it, as is the bike ride to Coroico (about 3600m of downhill, perhaps 5m of uphill. And the saltenas.

Any other questions let me know, I can also give you the phone number of the man, Celso, his name is, in Laguna - definately a good contact if you're heading out that way.
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