The Pequeño Alpamayo, or Little Alpamayo is another of the fantastic mountains located at the Condoriri Group in La Coordillera Blanca in Bolivia. It is a pyramid of snow, with the standard route being about 55 degrees, snow, nice in the morning, but sticky later in the day. It was first climbed in August 1962 by South Africans Irene and Keith Whitelock.
This is the general approach to the Condoriri Group. You can also check the mountain Cabeza de Condor page, which is located in the same area.
You can arrange several types of transportation to get to this region, first from La Paz to the Tuni Area, and later to the base camp next to the lake Chiar Khota.
a) Hire private van or 4x4 in La Paz, and get to an aqueduct system called Tuni, in about 2-3 hours. The price in 2001 was about $80.oo and you may get a good deal depending on how good you are to bargain. I made friends with the drivers and local guides, and often got several persons to fill a mini-van so I got kind of cheap deals for me. Go and try!
b) Ask and see if you can share the transportation with a guided trip. It never hurts to ask around (it worked for me)
If you want you may want to share your expenses with other climbers. You will find them everywhere, but you can also hang out in the Hotel Torino, downtown La Paz, and try to find other climbers looking in going to the Condoriri Massif. The hotels have billboards where climber can placve adds. Another good place to hang out and meet climbers, used to be the Restaurant MONGOS. Check your guidebook.
You can hire mules from different places around the lake. The small town of Tuni and the place call Plaza de Mulas (Mule Square) are just some of them. Farmers, arrieros (mule caretakers) and peasants will be glad to carry your gear for a modest fee.
After you get to the Aqueduct and reservoir systems, you have to walk some good 3 hrs, on a dirt road and an straight forward hike. You will reach the Chiar Khota (4600 mts) Lake and finally the base camp. Here water, stone toilets and guards are available to you, but is not a resort, is the wild, so bring your garbage bags to pick up your trash.
Permits, Maps and Guidebooks
No permits were necessary when I went there (Summer 2000)
Maps? Scale 1:50.000 are the ones you will find. Try Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM) sheets , four of them, to cover the whole massif: 5945 I (Zongo), 5945II (Milluni), 5945 III (Peñas), and the 5945 VI (Khara Khota). Be careful with this IGM sheet since there are reports that they have errors.....There are other maps especially German maps. You will have to research about them, but many climbing stores and guiding services sell the maps in La Paz. However, in my experience, 1:50.000 helps but is not a very detail scale….
Bolivia, a Climbing Guide, from Yossi Brain (The Mountaineers) is very good. You can buy it online or in Bolivia.
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"
Food: I hire food from the locals, so I did not mind, but I have a South American stomach and I can eat 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 cylinders before you leave (and indeed all of your gear)
When To Climb
The season in the Central-Tropical Andes is mostly from June to August, when the dry winter makes the condition best. August is packed with climbers, prices are higher so maybe you want to get there early in the season. Bolivia is south of the Ecuador Line and is in the Tropics still.
Some resources for non-mountaineering friendly weather:
There is a very good camping area near the Chiar Khota (4600 mts) Lake. You can also camp in the mountains at your own risk, of course.
"Climb high, sleep low"
More Information about Bolivia:
The CIA World Fact Book
The US Library of Congress
Below, these three pictures show all the Pequeno Alpamayo. They were conributed by Mathias Zehring
The one on the right was provided by Mathias Zehring. The second was taken by the German photographer
Jürgen Winkler (recently published again in the book "Bergfotografie" with other great photographers Mathis, Ritschel and Zak), with description "Condoriri group". The last one is nothing but what the mind of marketers call Everest, in the IMAX movie about Mount Everest ! But in reality is the Pequeño Alpamayo! Be careful, things in the TV and in the movies are not what we see.....reality is manipulation of images...