Huayna Potosí is a beginner level climb over a 3 day period including basic training, equipment and a rare chance to get over 6000 meters without being an experienced climber. Highly recommended.
Don’t believe how easy the guidebooks make this climb seem! Anything over 6000 meters is difficult and climbing for 7 or 8 hours is tiring for anyone at high altitude. That said if you are well acclimatized, quite fit and very determined then there is a good chance you will make it and have an unforgettable experience of a lifetime – you do not need to have experience. If you underestimate the climb, have not spent at least several days at altitude, try to save a few dollars by attempting a 2 day trip when not acclimatized– then you will likely not make it to the top (its possible but your chances are slimmer). Make no mistake – you need determination to climb this mountain and although physically demanding the mental challenge is just as tough if not tougher!
There is a 2 day option of this climb that does not include the practice day that we can arrange for well acclimatized if they wish although you will have less time to get acclimatized to the higher altitude of the mountain.
DAY 1 – Climbing school and acclimatization
Set off from La Paz around 9.00 am you will head off towards the mountain range but first with a stop off at the equipment store to try on boots, jackets and trousers etc. that you will need on the climb. Arrive after 2 hours or so driving to the refuge and have some lunch before heading off for some practice / training on the lower glacier. You will learn how to fall correctly with an ice axe, climb / walk using crampons and general mountain safety. Guides are Spanish-speaking only so it is advisable to have some Spanish to get the best from this but they can instruct you in these techniques visually to some degree.
DAY 2 – The High Camp
A simple day that involves a short trek of 2 or 3 hours up to the high camp at 5200 meters. You eat around 5 or 6 pm here and then sleep early before the early start for the climb.
DAY 3 – The Ascent
Wake up around 1am and start the climb. It is cold, dark and slow progress but you will experience some great moments along the way including seeing the night lights of El Alto and La Paz from above, climbing a 30 meter ice wall, jumping over a crevasse or two. The last 200 meters involve forcing yourself up a 45 degree wall of compressed snow which will be tough going after the climb up and the altitude effects – this is where you need your mental toughness but it will be rewarded by incredible views of the Cordillera mountain range and a sense of achievement you will never forget.
Included / Not Included
Private transportation to and from the climb
Qualified mountain guide, Spanish-speaking
Equipment – climbing boots, crampons, ice axe, mountain jacket and trousers, harness, rope etc.
Meals and accommodation in refuges – both low camp and high camp in refuges
Souvenir poster (collect from out office quoting your booking number)
Head torch (one can be provided if you supply batteries though)
Sleeping bag (quality mountain sleeping bags can be rented from us – a basic one can be provided free upon request, whereas a -18c mountain sleeping bag can be rented from us for 10$ plus deposit for value of bag)
Thermal under trousers (optional), fleece jacket and thermal upper body wear
Water (2 to 4 liters – refills available in refuges), chocolate or high calorie sweets /snacks
Warm gloves for wearing inside mountain gloves, warm hat
Sunglasses, sun cream and lip balm – essential
Travel insurance – recommended
The climb requires a minimum of 2 people in order to leave although we often have groups leaving but this frequency varies with the season. There is one guide for 2 people, 2 guides for 3/4 people, 3 guides for 5/6 people. Larger group sizes are better as they provide more flexibility. For example if there are just 2 people and one guide and one person cannot continue the climb then both climbers must return with the guide and no refunds will be given. If there is a larger group one guide can bring 1 or 2 people down whilst others continue.