Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Regional discussion and conditions reports for South America. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the South American Climbing Partners section.
 

Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Pieterjan » Mon May 28, 2012 7:30 pm

Hi all,

Me and two friend are planning to go to the cordillera real this summer to climp both pequeño alpamayo & huayna potosi. Now, we don't have any experience in mountaineering and wonder if these mountains are good for a first experience. Guiding companies say so, but I'd like to hear on the forum if it is really true. It's I'm planning the trip and don't want to put my friend in a life-treathening situation. :) Thanks for the help!

Cheers!
Pieterjan

 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 7:18 pm
Location: Burssels, Belgium
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Woodie Hopper » Mon May 28, 2012 11:27 pm

Honestly I think it's not reasonable for you to take these on without any mountaineering experience. With that said, you do have time before you go to learn some basics of cramponing and roped glacier travel. You will be safer and enjoy your climbs more if you take the time to learn or at a minimum get some exposure to these skills. Also, if you have never been over 4,000m, you will quickly learn an appreciation for the altitude of the Altiplano.

There are many "guide agencies" in La Paz which do not have your best interests at heart. I have noticed too many incompetent and/or dishonest guides first hand. Unfortunately they are fairly common in Bolivia. You are doing the right thing asking these questions, and you should be wary if a foreign guide knows you are inexperienced and tells you HP and Pequeno Alpamayo are fine for beginners. Although Huanya Potosi is not technical, it is a strenuous climb, and accidents and injuries are very common there.

Be careful out there, and I hope you enjoy your trip!

Woodie
User Avatar
Woodie Hopper

 
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Denver & Leadville, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 24 times in 20 posts

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Pieterjan » Tue May 29, 2012 7:31 am

Hi Woody,

Thanks for the help! I already climbed Kilimanjaro, so I know what the altitude does, it's just Kilimanjaro ain't really technical. My friends on the other hand don't. I really 'd like to experience the feeling again in Bolivia, so I'd actually really like to climb at least one. Would HP with some serious trekking (so not the more technical PA) for acclimatization be a good option?

I was planning to go witch bolivianmountainguides, and guess they are flexible to tailored trips. Again, your tips are really appreciated!

greetings,
Pieterjan

 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 7:18 pm
Location: Burssels, Belgium
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Pieterjan » Tue May 29, 2012 8:34 am

by the way: they suggested one day of cramponing practise and one day of practice with ropes and knots. Maybe that's sufficient? thanks for the advice!
Pieterjan

 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 7:18 pm
Location: Burssels, Belgium
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Damien Gildea » Tue May 29, 2012 2:28 pm

P,

There are too many variables in such situations and it really depends on how you and your friend cope with your introduction to climbing these sorts of things. Are you scared of heights? Are you physically fit? Are you cautious or reckless? Have you done any rockclimbing? Any trekking?

I climbed both HP and PA in June 1999, a while ago now. HP has the reputation of being easy, which it is, but it does have crevasses and the section to the summit, and the ridge off it, is quite steep. ie. you could fall off. But in snowy conditions it is easier, in icier conditions you will need to be more careful with your crampons. HP is popular with guiding companies not because it is 'easy' but because it is close to La Paz and is just over the magic 6000m. Parinacota, down near Sajama on the Chilean border, which I have also climbed, is much easier technically than HP, PA or Illimani, or most other things. But it is further away, and a little too high to do without being acclimatised from something else.

PA is a beautiful little mountain and most of the climb is very easy. The final stretch up to the summit is relatively steep though, by beginner-mountaineer standards. We did it in nice snow conditions, firm enough to be efficient, soft enough to give good purchase. If it was hard ice it would be significantly harder. So it will depend what time of year you go and what the season has been like. The Andean seasons can vary greatly depending on how the Nov-March 'wet' season was, whether there was a strong El Nino or La Nina. Find out before you go.

I think Bolivia is still the best place in the world to climb a 6000m peak - safe, few glaciers, good weather, cheap, easy approaches. But as Woodie says, some of the 'guides' are no good, and many are barely guides at all, just ambitious porters. If your guide is OK, then you should be fine on HP and PA. You need to try and ascertain this before you get to the final section of each climb, and make changes, or not, accordingly.

Get as fit as you possibly can - slow grinding fitness with a pack, not rockclimbing. Allow as much time as you possibly can, more than most commercial itineraries allow - they have high failure rates trying to sell too much into too short a timeframe. Spend at least three days in La Paz once you arrive, just walking around, taking it easy and drinking lots of (clean) water. Ignore people rushing off to mountains after a day or two. Most of them fail and wonder why.
User Avatar
Damien Gildea

 
Posts: 1349
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:19 pm
Thanked: 211 times in 130 posts

The following user would like to thank Damien Gildea for this post
Woodie Hopper

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Woodie Hopper » Tue May 29, 2012 3:24 pm

Both times I went to Bolivia, I used the guides from Bolivianmountainguides.com. In my opinion, all of them are very good. With that being said, the day before I met them this time, they carried off a woman from Pequeno Alpamayo who was too exhausted after summiting PA and collapsed near the foot of the glacier. Two Canadian doctors insisted they carry her out which is incidental, but helps illustrate Damien's point of being fit before you go. They will take good care of you on the mountain, but they can be aggressive regarding acclimatization. Downclimbing steep sections can be tiring, and you don't want to catch a pant leg or the rope with a crampon point and trip, etc because you get sloppy technique when you are tired.

I'm not sure how much time you have, but D's suggestion of waiting and getting acclimated will help you to be safer and get more enjoyment out of your trip. Titicaca and Tiwanaku aren't far from La Paz and would make interesting side trips while you bide your time before your climbs.

Anyway, I'd really like to hear how your trip goes, and hope you enjoy Bolivia as much as I have. I just returned from there last Friday evening.

Suerte!

Woodie
User Avatar
Woodie Hopper

 
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Denver & Leadville, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 24 times in 20 posts

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby allaba » Wed May 30, 2012 8:59 pm

Hello! I will be in Bolivia to do some touring and try some ascents.

And just like Pieterjan i'm thinking about trying Pequeño Alpamayo and Huayna Potosí...
A buddy adviced me to try Pequeño Alpamayo or Piramide Blanca, and then HP, for a good acclimatization.

I don't have any experience in ice climbing as there's no snow in the country i live.
I think i have a good physical and i have been practicing bouldering since a while, though.
Plus, i'm making a schedule for the best acclimatizing, spending some days at 3600-4000m. altitud cities and doing an "easy" Chacaltaya ascent before PA.

I'm arriving alone in Bolivia in July, and some questions are still troubling.
Is it easy to join groups for Pequeño Alpamayo? Someone knows how early i have to "book" in agencies to ensure it? Agencies told me that for HP it is guaranteed.
Do you think i have good chances to succeed in these ascents? Will I be well acclimatized with this schedule?

I'm afraid because i've read many relates in some forums, about failures in the peaks.
I'm excited otherwise because of other relates about people's triumphs in the summit!!

Thanks! And sorry for english errors (i'm far from fluent :) )
User Avatar
allaba

 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 7:32 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Woodie Hopper » Thu May 31, 2012 1:08 am

Don't worry about failures, worry about being safe. First of all it's good that you're taking time to acclimatize, and Chacaltaya is good for that. It won't help much if you take the bus all the way to the top, though. Instead get off somewhere above the park gate and hike to the summit. You should stay to the right of the old ski area hut and try for the summit. After you make it up, take your time going down, and take a break in the hut where you can get lunch or a snack. I wouldn't tackle HP until you've been up Chacaltaya and in Bolivia for at least a week if you're coming from sea level.

Pequeno Alpamayo isn't much higher, but you will need to go up a small glacier. You won't have any problems finding a guide in La Paz if you want to wait until you arrive in La Paz, but as above, it's a little risky if you don't know which guides you can trust. I think you should sample some people here on SP and try to pick from ones that are recommended. HP and PA aren't very expensive. As stated above, the upper parts of PA and HP are a little steep, and from now on, the snow gets more compact and icier.

A word about guides again: of course it is guaranteed to get on a rope for HP or PA for a price. What you don't want is to go with "Super Mario" who has suckered five clients who don't know any better into going up on the same rope (true story) or another incompetent and/or dishonest "guide".

Enjoy the experience for what it is: a great time in a nice range for climbing and hiking. If you get to summit, that's great. There's no way I can tell you what your chances are, but quite a few novices make it up these successfully if conditions are good with good guides, fitness and acclimatization. Just don't forget no one cares more for your personal safety than yourself.

Woodie
User Avatar
Woodie Hopper

 
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Denver & Leadville, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 24 times in 20 posts

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Pieterjan » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:01 am

Thanks for the tips Woodie & Damien,

I guess we will stick to the plan then. We will be coming from santa cruz traveling 15 days before arriving in La paz. The altiplano will already help us acclimatize a bit. Then we'll stay another few days in La Paz before going to Condoriri base camp. First 2 days of training & pico austria, then to PA... if we can't do the steepest section, too bad... safety first! The view from tarija is very nice so that's fine. Then 3 days to tackle HP... I guess we will be well aclimatized compared with others... Hope we can tackle at least one of them, but we'll see where we get! We should be fine, what do u think?

@Woodie: I'll keep u up to date!

Thanks again!
Pieterjan

 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 7:18 pm
Location: Burssels, Belgium
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Bolivia: Pequeño Alpamayo & Huayna Potosi

Postby Woodie Hopper » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:37 pm

I think your plan is a good one. With a good guide you should be fine.

If you try Chacaltaya, there is a great view of Huanya Potosi from the top.

Regards,

Woodie
User Avatar
Woodie Hopper

 
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Denver & Leadville, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 24 times in 20 posts


Return to South America

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.