There are thirteen peaks over 5,000 meters in this area. All can be reached using the camp at Laguna Chiar Khota (Black Lake). This area is an excellent choice to aclimate while having multiple one day climbs at various levels of difficulty to attempt.
The mountain, also known as Nevado Illusion, was once a white pyramid of ice and snow and is now mostly rock. The glaiciers in this section of the Cordillera Real are in a current state of retreat.
Public transport is not an option to the trailhead. The drive takes about two hours--one on the main road out of El Alto towards Copacabana then an hour on a dirt and rock 4x4 road.
In May 2008 private transport cost my group $140 USD roundtrip. You might be able to get a better price as there are numerous tour and travel offices along Illampu street in La Paz that advertise trips to the Condoriri.
There are two trailhead choices: Near the village of Tuni for a three hour hike and farther up the road at a smaller lake (North-northwest of Tuni) for a one hour hike. Mules can be hired at either location for $10 USD each way (payment in full required when first hired)
Stone bridge crossing
Route for the one hour hike:
Leave the village along an obvious path towards the rock and stream coming into the valley. Soon you will reach a small glacier lake. Cross over the stone foot bridge and head around to the left and higher to gain the mule trail. This path will soon lead to a short climb with a small house and walls on top. This is a restaurant/bar during the busy season. At this point you can see Laguna Chiar Khota with the camp on the far shore. Follow the path to the right and arrive in camp in 15 minutes.
Camp has well established walls, flowing water and several outhouses. A caretaker, Faust, will great you. He does not speak a lot of English. The fee for the camp was 10 Bolivianos per person for our 3 day stay.
The water is piped from the lateral moraine above camp between Aguja Negra and Mirador. Even though it supposedly from a spring it does have a risk of exposure to the Llama herds grazing on the moraine so some type of treatment is advised.
Blanca from the glacier
The climbing season in the Bolivian Andes is mainly June to August. This is winter which normally has dry conditions. May is a worthy consideration to avoid the crowds of peak season when its common to have 50 or more tents in camp next to Laguna Chiar Khota.
To get to the glacier hike up the trail behind camp for approximately one hour. Once on the glacier just head up for an hour or so to start your chosen route.
There are three main route choices:
Grade I/PD, 40 deg, 1000 ft. - left side of the peak up the snow ramp then a short rock climb.
Southwest Face Direct:
Grade III/D-, 80 deg, 650 ft. - Just right of center up the face via the ice.
Southwest Face/West Ridge:
Grade II/AD, 60 deg, 650 ft. - Far right side of the peak up the ice then take the ridge to the summit.
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