Well, the Tarija Peak is a very popular peak for a great first experience for ice climbing. It is a great 5000 summit and dorway to one of the most beautifull bolivian mountains, Pequeño Alpamayo (aka Alpamayo Chico) of 5.370 m above sea level.
Tarija itself is 5.300m and you don't have to overcome a great altitude difference to reach its summit, the base camp for that and other mountains is at Laguna Chiar Kota, a quite peacefull and gorgeous lagoon at 4.650m high, inside the valley of Condoriri.
The climbing is very cold. Normaly people start the way up at 2am, and if you climb at winter time, easily you'll be walking at serious negative temperatures, around -20°C. When i climbed that peak, it was late autumn and i got -14°C at the glacier and it was quite windy that night. Cold night! All my food frozed, water, sandwich, chocolate bar, everything i had inside my backpack. And, once again, almost my fingers.
The glacier is huge but every year is going smaller by the effects of the global warming. I heard from a friend that recently climbed the peak: "My guide said to me that in only 6 months the glacier lost 10 meters!", and of course, i am very upset about that. Our generation is probably the last one to see a lot of glaciers around the globe. Sad but true.
In Aug 21st, 2013, reworking ALL my mountain pages (lat and long), I found an altitude of 5344m for Tarija, please, comeone confirm this information for me, at the time I climbed it, I had no GPS on me.
To get there you must be at La Paz, Bolivia's capital and bigger city. Find yourself a transport to take you to the small (really tiny) vilage of Tuni (4.448 m), even taxis take you there, it's a long drive but they don't care. Bolivia is a poor, much por country, so everyone does anything for money to support the family. The price is gonna start at around BolP$ 400,00 but, negociate, the price is gonna drop to half the price, even less.
Once you get to Tuni, follow the trailhead to Condoriri valley and try not to die of excitement looking at the valley itself, it is an amazing place. Several 5000 summits and the star of the place, Cabeza de Condor, is really something to behold for weeks.
Me a few meters away from Tarija's summit
For the climbing:
I would strongly recommend that you find yourself a partner for the climb, the Tarija glacier has loads of crevasses and some of them, covered by fresh snow. There's some scary stories about climbers who falled into some of them, broke a leg or arm, and had to spent a night calling for help, too mych cold, frostbite, so, watch out.
You can find food and mule services in Tuni village, and it is not expansive at all. Also guiding services for almost nothing can be found there.
PS: The weather forecast on this link is not for this mountain but it will do just fine since the mountain from the forcast (Cabeza de Condor) is just a mile away from it.
You can camp anywhere you want, but the best place to camp is at Laguna Chiar Kota, 4.700m. There's ready spots with rocks to give some cover to your tent, bathrooms, and plenty of water.
To hike/ climb is a dangerous activity and requires proper equipment and clothing, the owner of this page cannot be blamed by injuries caused to anyone who read this page for its info about the mountain, and eventually got hurt by doing so with reckless behaviour or bad weather conditions.