Overview

Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo

This trip is a superb introduction to mountaineering in Latin America. We tackle two peaks that are both respectable and popular mountaineering objectives, plus the option to climb a harder peak called Illimani for an additional week in Bolivia. It is quite a strenuous trip demanding fitness and experience camping outdoors, however we will be using mules and some base camp facilities along the way. 

The climbing averages PD+/AD (Scottish II) and does require confidence, experience on snow and ice and knowledgable use of crampons and ice axe. It is also required that members have experience of roped travel on glaciated terrain and steep ground. We will be asking applicants to send us some details of their climbing experience before acceptance onto this trip. 

We fly in to La Paz in Bolivia at 4000m but we do recommend that if you have time you may wish to arrive even earlier to get used to the altitude. It is definitely a very high starting point for a mountain trip. 

Start point La Paz (3627m) surrounded by glaciated peaks and rolling hills. Minimum two days acclimatising and visiting Lake Titicaca and the reed islands.

La Paz.jpg

Pequeno Alpamayo (17,482 feet/ 5329m) climb is technical yet reasonable (AD). Ideal place to increase your mountaineering skills. 5 days practicing glacier and climbing skills, acclimatizing, climbing sub-peaks, and finally making our summit bid. The summit day consists of a moderate glacier, followed by two pitches of fourth class rock, and then steep ice or neve on a knife-edged ridge. After our team makes its summit bid, we will return to La Paz.

Bolivia_Andes Pequeno Alpamayo summit ridge close.jpg

Huayna Potosi (19,975 feet 6088m, AD) is a short drive from La Paz to the base camp. Spend a day practicing steeper ice climbing skills on the glacier’s edge. Summit day route is comprised of steep glacier travel and a final airy ridge to the summit. A summit of Huayna is excellent preparation for longer routes on the big mountains of the world.

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Optional third peak of Illimani (21,125 feet/6,439 meters), tallest in the Cordillera Real and graded a PD climb. After a beautiful approach through Bolivian farmland and small indigenous towns, arrive at base camp and move to high camp known as Nido de Condores at 18,372 feet (5,600 meters). Summit day takes us across an exposed ridge and then onto broad snow slopes, around crevasse fields, and eventually onto the final, classic, knife-edged summit ridge which can involve 55° ice climbing at an altitude of nearly 6,000m.

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Itinerary

Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo itinerary

The main trip is 15 days in-country. Add a day at either end for flights which will make it 17 days in total. However feel free to arrive a day or so early or leave a day or so later. 

If you would like to climb Illimani as well then the trip is 21 days in country, or 23 days with flight time. 

Date Trip day Programme
June 11  1 Arrive La Paz, Explore city, relax, acclimatise. 3650m
June 12 2 Visit Tihuanaco, travel to Copacabana. 3800m
June 13 3 Visit Island of the Sun, lake Titicaca. 3800m
June 14 4 Drive out to Cordillera Real, Trek to Ajuani camp. 4300m 
June 15 5 Trek via 4800m pass to Juri Khota Lake camp, 4300m
June 16 6 Trek via Austrian Pass, 4900m, to Condoriri Valley camp.  4600m
June 17 7 Glacier skills training close to Condoriri Valley camp. 4600m
June 18 8 Summit day Pequeno Alpamayo. 5350m
June 19 9 Spare day
June 20 10 Trek to Maria Lloco camp. 4500m
June 21 11 Trek to Huayna Base camp. 4700m
June 22 12 Climb to Huayna High camp. 5150m
June 23 13 Summit day Huayna Potosi. 6088m.
June 24 14 Spare day
June 25 15 La Paz, depart for home or stay
     
June 26 16 Illimani group drive to Pinaya and walk to Base Camp of Illimani
June 27 17 Move to high camp Nido de Condores, 5,600m.
June 28 18 Summit day, 6439m and returning to base camp
June 29 19 Spare day
June 30 20 Returning to base camp and La Paz
July 1 21 La Paz, depart for home or stay

 


DETAILED ITINERARY for main trip 

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1 (4000m)-3650m   Arrive in La Paz at 4000m, transfer to hotel in the heart of the city at 3,650m, it is important to take it gently for the day. There is the chance to visit the attractions of the city, including the notorious Witches Market, colonial museums and perhaps even the coca museum. 
2 3800m   Continuing our acclimatisation, we drive out into the altiplano to visit the ancient site of Tihuanaco, an extremely significant pre-Inca civilisation. Continue to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca (3,800m).
3 3800m   Motor boat onto the Island of the Sun for a three hour trek across the island, enjoying the panorama of the Cordillera Real and Cordillera Apolobamba ranges in the distance. 
4 4300m   2-3 hour drive from Lake Titicaca to Kâotia, where our mules will be waiting. Starting at 4,200m, we follow the foothills of the Cordillera Real until we reach the valley of Ajuani. Camp at 4,300m
5 (4800m)-4300m   Cross two passes of around 4,800m before descending into the Juri Khota valley, and camp on the shores of the Lake with the same name (4,300m)
6 (4900m)-4600m   Cross the Austria pass (4,900m) passing magnificent hanging glaciers and glacial lakes. Possible walk to the top of Austria peak (5,150m), before descending into Condoriri valley (4,600m). Camp.
7 4600m   A skills practise day today at the base of the glacier.
8 5350m   Summit attempt of Pequeno Alpamayo (5,350m). Departing around 4am, trek to the glacier, first few hours, the gradient remains relatively consistent at around 30 degrees until we reach the saddle of the Tarija peak at 5,300m which is an ideal vantage point to see the final route to the summit of Pequeno Alpamayo (about 1 hour further). The final section is a little steeper (up to 45 degrees) until we reach the summit. Descend the same way.
9 4500m   Spare day. Or break camp and continue our trek along the range, and make our way to the base of Maria Lloco (4,500m). Camp
10 4700m   Trek to Maria Lloco camp or the Huayna base camp at 4,700m. Camp.
11     Rest day
12 5150m   A short trek today to the high camp for acclimatisation and training (5,150m) at the edge of the glacier. Or move to high camp for sleeping. 
13 6088m   Early start (around 1am) to aim to reach the summit for sunrise. We step onto the glacier almost immediately, with the majority of the route being a glacial walk, with a couple of small crevasses to negotiate. Or camping at high camp for summit next day
14 3650m   Summit day or spare day or return to La Paz
15 3650m   Return to La Paz, depart home or stay

Cost

Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo cost £2195.00
(Illimani option - £2965.00)

INCLUDES

  • Airport transfers
  • Internal transport
  • Boat tour to Island of the Sun
  • National Park Fees
  • Accommodation in city lodges prior to and after trek & climb
  • Sleeping tents and group equipment
  • Meals during the trek and climb
  • Professional Bolivian and UK guides max ratio 1:5 (English speaking)
  • Mules and Mule drivers (max weight 25kgs/person)

EXCLUDES

  • International flight to La Paz (£700-800 from London)
  • Meals and drinks in La Paz (£50)
  • Personal costs eg. drinks, hot showers, bottled water
  • Trip Insurance
  • Bolivian Visa (free for UK citizens)
  • Tips 
  • Sightseeing Tours in La Paz

Payments

We make payments as flexible as possible and give you control over what you pay and when you pay it. A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. Therefore you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.

INSURANCE

It is important that you take out adequate personal insurance for the activities on this trip. Please see our information page in the menu to the right for further guidance and suggestions. If you have any questions regarding the required coverage please do not hesitate to contact us.

Fitness

Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo - fitness and terrain

This trip can be quite physically strenuous. This is mainly due to the effects of altitude, which exaggerate the exertion required during the trek and climbs. As this area of Bolivia is all at high altitude we are not able to work up from lower elevations.

We will land on our international flight into La Paz at close to 4000m, in most other locations you would try to take around a week working up to this altitude in stages. Therefore we spend the first few days of the trip visiting areas such as Lake Titicaca on a relaxed routine in order to help our bodies adjust to the altitude.

On the trek and climbs it will again be largely the effects of altitude that will dictate perceived difficulty, as we will move very slowly and steadily. However, it will be important to arrive on this trip in good physical shape and also healthy and determined.

The type of fitness you need to build up will focus on low-intensity but sustained cardio-vascular exercise. 4-6 hour walks with a light back-pack are ideal preparation. Swimming, cycling and yoga are also great ways to build up the right kind of fitness whilst minimising risks of injury. You may also chose to target some strength training on your upper legs, calves and back.

If you have any questions or doubts regarding your suitability to this trip please do not hesitate to contact us for friendly and honest advice.

TYPE OF TERRAIN

Trekking towards the Condoriri valley.jpg

The trek follows established routes, though through rugged and remote terrain. It will be necessary to wear supportive trekking boots to protect your ankles.

The climbs ascend snow and ice slopes which are moderate in general but steepening considerably on the upper reaches, up to approx 55 degrees. Parts of the upper mountain also require careful traversing of snow ridges and steep aretes with some considerable exposure to large drops. This will all be protected where required but will require careful axe and crampon work. Training and skills refreshers in the necessary techniques will be given. However, care and a head for exposed drops will be essential.

Peq Alpamayo.jpg

Grading of the routes depends of course on the prevailing weather and snow conditions, however, a commonly accepted alpine grade for Huayna Potosi would be (PD/AD-) and for Pequeno Alpamayo (AD). Illimani is AD.

Previous experience of rock scrambling or climbing and use of crampons and ice axe on steep terrain are therefore considered essential for your enjoyment and safety of this trip.

Cordillera Real hiking.jpg

Kit List

Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo kit list

  • BAGS - Large rucksack + daypack ~45L, dry bags
  • SHELL - Top and bottoms
  • INSULATION - fleece layers, gloves, mitts, light down top, warm hat, buff, base layers
  • TREKKING CLOTHES - shorts, shirts, trousers, sunhat
  • FEET - Trekking boots, mountaineering double-boots or hybrids, sandals, trekking and climbing socks, gaiters
  • SLEEPING - Warm sleeping bag rated to -15C and sleeping mat
  • EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles, snacks, insulated cup, bowl and fork/spoon/knife
  • WASHING & MEDICAL kit plus suncream and UV lip salve
  • CLIMBING - Crampons, ice axe, harness, 2 slings, 2 karabiners (locking), 2 karabiners (snap), prussik, helmet
  • EXTRA - Walking poles, sunglasses/goggles, camera/phone/charger, headtorch, repair kit, personal kit

Adventure Alternative will supply the climbing ropes, tents and cooking equipment. 

A lot of this equipment can be rented in La Paz or also from our rental outfit in the UK, however we would assume that people on this type of expedition will already have this equipment and clothing and be self-sufficient and experienced in its use. 

At the summit of Pequeno Alpamayo.jpg

 

Why Us

  • This is an opportunity to experience travel, trekking and the summits of two peaks all within one trip. The process of staged acclimitisation allows us to safely combine all these fantastic alements.

  • We have a planned ascent profile to manage the fact that La Paz, where we fly to, is already at high altitude. This will help to maximise your rate of acclimitisation to altitude. This not only improves your safety but also your enjoyment of the trip. However, it is a common reason for people feeling sick right at the start of the trip so if you would like to arrive earlier then please let us know. 

  • The trek is led by safe and experienced UIAGM or MIC mountain guides from the UK and from our partner company in Bolivia.

  • Financial security is guaranteed as we are ABTOT bonded.

  • We are audited and registered as complying with BS8848, the highest standard for overseas expeditions.

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Maps and routes

Maps and routes

Bolivia map.gif  Bolivia Cordillera Real map.jpg
Bolivia is landlocked and almost halfway down South America on the western side of the continent. The main airport to fly to for mountain climbing is La Paz. From this high city the range of Cordillera Real run in a line to the north east of the city. On this map Illimani is slightly south east of the city. 

Pequeno Alpamayo route map

pequeno-alpamayo route map.jpg

Huayna Potosi route map

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Illimani route map

Illimani route map.jpg

 

 

Photos

Extras

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Key Information
  • Duration 16 days
  • Numbers 4 min
  • Altitude 6088m
  • Skill level Intermediate (PD+/AD)
  • Extra Illimani climb
More Information