Climbing in Bolivia

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Bolivia, South America
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Created On: Mar 14, 2013
Last Edited On: Mar 14, 2013

Climbing In Bolivia

I meant to write this up a long time ago but life got in the
way. Anyway, in 2011 I started thinking about doing Aconcagua. It being one of
the seven summits had appeal to it. So I got in touch with Aventuras
Patagonicas. But then the more I read about it, the more it just seemed like a
high altitude hike. I’m not degrading the difficulty at all; I just wanted a
little more bang for my buck. So then I started looking at their Bolivia
Technical Climbs trip and after some email exchange I signed up to join a team
that had already booked a trip. I thought everything was a go, until about two
months before the climb dates when I asked them when they wanted a deposit. It
was then, about three months after I had signed up that they tell me that the
other climbers had changed the dates a month or so prior. I was pissed! Had I
been told back then I could have changed the dates I had requested off and the
plane tickets, but as it was I was stuck with plane tickets and dates but no climb.

So I frantically began searching the net for a reputable
company that might have a trip planned during those dates. My savior came when
I came across
run by Jon Cassidy. Not only was he willing to create to trip catered just to
me, but he was going to do it at a better price!

I put a post here to see if anyone wanted to join and
Stargazer Lilli said she was in after we met once for dinner and to talk out
the details.

From the moment we arrived in La Paz the treatment and
service we got was exceptional. Jon’s business partner, Miriam and her father
met us at the airport late at night and took us to the hotel that they had
arranged for us. It was a great secure hotel in a central location. We had a
day to get situated and sort out the details. One thing that really impressed
me was how Miriam really questioned us on what we liked to eat so that she could
tell the cook what to buy – we ate well the whole time out climbing. The next
day it was off to Pequeno Alpamayo for our first assent. At 5,350 meters it was
a great way to get acclimated, and besides that it is a gorgeous peak. For
Pequeno Alpamayo Jon arranged for Cecilio Daza to guide us. Cecilio was full of
enthusiasm and I liked him immediately. The climb went great and Cecilio did an
excellent job making sure we were safe.

After the climb it was back to La Paz or a rest day then it
was off to Ancohuma followed by Illampu. For these Jon hooked us up with Julio
Choque for Ancohuma and then his brother Hilarion joined us for Illampu.
Because of our difference in climbing experience and the technical difficulty
of Illampu we wanted to each have a guide. The Choque brothers are just plain
awesome! I can’t praise them enough. Great guys and very technically savvy. I
really enjoyed the couple days it took to get to Anchohuma base camp. On
Ancohuma we ran into a crevasse about three quarters of the way up right at the
bottom of a steep slope. After a couple of tries Julio pulled off a sweet move
and got himself up and over and then put in an anchor. With him on top and me
from behind we were able to get Stargazer over and then I copied his moves.
Upon reaching the top Stargazer and had huge smiles spread across our faces. It
was the first time for both of us to climb above 6,000 meters. And there was
hardly a cloud in the sky! We had a perfect view at our next objective,
Illampu. Without Julio’s ability and desire for us to reach the top, we
wouldn’t have made it.

At the base camp for Illampu we ran into a group of German
climbers that were coming down from a failed summit attempt. The guides in
Bolivia freelance between the various guiding companies. And as it turned out
Julio and Hilarion had been the German group’s guides the previous week on
Illimani. When they all got to camp and were away from their present guides
they commented on how lucky we were to have the Choque brothers. The reason for
their failed attempt was that they made it up about a third of the way but felt
unsafe with the guides they were using so they turned back. I already knew that
Jon had made sure to hook us up with quality guides, but hearing this
solidified it.

I was teamed up with Hilarion and felt totally secure the
whole way up and down. It is no joke about being “one of the most demanding
climbs in the Cordillera Real, but with that it was super rewarding when we
made it to the top. Like the few days before on Anchohuma we had a nearly
cloudless sky.

I can’t praise and thank Jon and Miriam enough for making it
logistically possible and I can’t praise and thank Cecilio Daza, Julio and
Hilarion enough for making it physically possible. If you are thinking about
doing any climbing or trekking in Bolivia I suggest you consider Bolivian


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