Planning a trip to Bolivia Jun 16-July25. Couple of questions regarding best places to stay while in La Paz, also Sajama is on the schedule and I've heard conditions can be quite cold. I'm contemplating what kind of sleeping bag to take and was wondering if anyone w/ experience in Bolivia or on Sajama itself can recommend a sleeping system that worked for them. Also, does anyone recommend taking overboots to Bolivia? thanks
Adventurer's got it right about the acclimitization. I wouldn't even climb anything for the first few days. What I did was to go backpacking on the isla del Sol and a bunch of places around the lake. Also climbed some spires within walking distance of La Paz itself. After a few days of that you ought to be ready to hit the higher stuff. I don't think I even had a headache on Illimani. I wore plastics there but not on all of the other, lower mountains.
I climbed Sajama end of July 99, completely alone on the mountain. Spent a night at the regular high camp on the NW ridge.
Sleeping 'system' ? Two man Macpac Minaret tent, two foam mats, one RAB Premier 900 sleeping bag rated to about -15C, and me inside it. I really didn't think it was that cold, and I got up at about 2am to go to the summit.
Just wore thick base layer, Ptec 200 fleece jacket and Gtex shell on top, similar on legs. No down jacket needed, though I did take and use a light one on Illampu, and I did wear a Windstopper balaclava on both climbs. Boots were old Asolo ASF101 plastics, plenty warm and no need for overboots at all. You could probably use insulated leathers on many Bolivian climbs. Back then I didn't have any softshell stuff, but I would probably use that now instead of Gtex as it pretty much never rains. It is very windy however, so whatever you have needs to be windproof. Can be hot down low on the walk in, then cold up top on summit day.
The traverse section that is supposed to be the crux up on Sajama I did no problem, though apparently a guy fell and died from there, or the gully just below, a few weeks after I left. There were some small penitentes just above high camp, before that gully, but they were not really a problem.
Definitely reinforce what others said about taking plenty of time in LaPaz to acclimatise before you even set foot on a mountain. Three or four days is good, but you will see gringos on commercial expeditions going off after a day or two, mainly because they're impatient and can't sit still, and because they're on such a tight schedule because the company promised too many peaks in too short a time. There's plenty of good restaurants and cafes, if you look around, in LaPaz for bulking up and hydrating, so make the most of them.