Sajama National Park
From 18-23 September 2009 I visited Sajama National Park in Bolivia with a mountain guide from La Paz, hoping to climb some of the peaks.
I figured, let's try Parinacota first and save the best for last.
We camped somewhat west of the saddle between Pomerape and Parinacota, about an hour walking from the end of the dirt road. From there, we left very early (I'm not quite sure anymore, but I think it was around 1 am) and ascended from the north. At night, it was very, very cold. I wished I had warmer mittens. They were supposed to be good to -30 degrees Celcius, but I don't believe that anymore. It cannot have been that
My guide waits for me Parinacota crater rim
At first, there was a switchback trail, but high up it was scree ... very loose stuff. Snow would have been easier. As it was, we slipped back one step for every two we made. After eight hours we finally got to what seemed like the summit. However, it's a crater rim, with lots of local high points. With the sun out now, it wasn't cold anymore, so I hiked along the rim and back for an hour, because after each local summit, I wondered if the next one might be higher still ...
The descent was very fast. We ignored the trail and went straight down the scree slopes to our camp.
A few days later I learned a valuable lesson. Don't save the best for last, no, if conditions are all right, go for it!
Sajama from the approach to base camp
How's that, you may ask? Well, we got to Sajama high camp without any problems. Just two easy days of hiking from Sajama village. However, as we were going up there, the wind picked up, and in the evening and early night it developed into a big storm. No rain or snow, but the high winds meant that we didn't even start a summit attempt. No question about it, too dangerous. I figured, if we would try, either we could literally be blown of the mountain, or we could loose a few body parts from frost bite, because the already very low temperature would be compounded by the wind chill factor. And I rather like to keep my fingers and toes.
Almost at high camp
So, a bit reluctantly I said my goodbyes to Sajama National Park. Who knows, if I'm in the neighborhood again, I just might have another go at it.
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