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Mountain Madness Climber

Trips in Bolivia’s Royal Range a Success to 21,000-ft+

Illi­mani from the Con­dor’s Nest. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Climbers have tak­en to Bolivia for Moun­taineer­ing Schools and expe­di­tions in the Cordillera Real, or Roy­al Range. This range offers some of the finest moun­taineer­ing objec­tives in the Andes of South Amer­i­ca. With the goal of devel­op­ing self-reliant alpine climbers, guides make sure the climbers are com­fort­able with their new­ly acquired skills to sum­mit the peaks of Tar­i­ja and Huay­na Poto­si. Accli­ma­tized and ready to break the 20,000-foot bar­ri­er, climbers this sea­son have suc­cess­ful­ly reached the sum­mit of the spec­tac­u­lar 21,193-foot Illi­mani. Read about the two suc­cess­ful, recent trips with the Bolivia Moun­taineer­ing School.

If your feel­ing a blast of spon­tani­ety in your bones, we have a final trip for the sea­son depart­ing July 10- it’s not too late!!

Trip #1

Moun­tain Mad­ness guide Gas­par Navar­rete kicked off the month of May with a cus­tom instruc­tion­al trip for two guests, Tom D. and Marie V. For bet­ter acclima­ti­za­tion, they spent extra time in La Paz tour­ing the city and at the ruins at Tiwana­ka. The moun­taineer­ing school took place at Con­doriri Base Camp, where Tom and Marie picked up the tech­niques and refined the skills need­ed to climb Tar­i­ja, a great warm-up objec­tive. Sur­round­ed by eleven peaks and a beau­ti­ful alpine lake thou­sands of feet below them where camp is sit­u­at­ed, they expe­ri­enced the mag­ic of the Cordillera Real and became bet­ter acclimatized.

An extra day of rest in La Paz between climbs was much appre­ci­at­ed before mov­ing on to the main objec­tive, near­ly 20,000-foot Huay­na Poto­si. By the end of the trip, Tom and Marie had sum­mit­ed both Tar­i­ja and Huay­na Potosi!

Huay­na Poto­si. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Gas­par was a great guide and amaz­ing teacher. Since it was just Marie and I, we got a chance to real­ly ask a lot of ques­tions and prac­tice every­thing that we want­ed. Gas­par also did a great job at cov­er­ing all the skills that we want­ed to learn (I actu­al­ly sent him a list before the course and he man­aged to fit every­thing in!) He also was very atten­tive to how we were feel­ing with the alti­tude and I felt that he was also very con­scious of keep­ing things safe at all times. Sim­i­lar­ly all the sup­port staff was amaz­ing (Wen­si was a great cook) and every­thing went very smooth­ly for the whole trip… we hope to see him again on our next trip to South America!”

— Tom D.

The best guid­ed trip I have ever been on!” 

— Marie V. 

Con­grats to Tom and Marie!

Trip #2

Towards the end of May, Shayan Rohani and Gas­par led a group of five on the Bolivia Moun­taineer­ing School. The group had a great time learn­ing the foun­da­tion­al skills of moun­taineer­ing and took dai­ly trips to the near­by glac­i­ers to prac­tice and refine. Despite a white-out on the climb to the sum­mit of Tar­i­ja, the group perserved on their way up this mod­er­ate, great intro­duc­to­ry peak. The group went on to climb Huay­na Poto­si and the 21,193-foot Illi­mani! Con­grats to all!

Basic ice 101. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Sum­mit of Huay­na Poto­si. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Reed boats on Lake Tit­i­ca­ca. Michelle Vale­rio photo

The Bolivia Moun­taineer­ing School (includ­ing the Illi­mani exten­sion) was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence for me. The stun­ning set­ting of the Cordillera Real, com­bined with fan­tas­tic and knowl­edge­able guides, chal­leng­ing climbs, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain some cul­tur­al famil­iar­i­ty through spend­ing time in La Paz and Copaca­bana, made for an incred­i­ble trip. Many thanks!”

- Sarah C.

Witch­es Mar­ket. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Sum­mit day on Illi­mani. Michelle Vale­rio photo

High Camp on Illi­mani. Michelle Vale­rio photo

Check out some VIDEOS from that trip below: 

1. The entire group sits atop Huay­na Poto­si, enjoy­ing a cloud break and breath­tak­ing views, and a look down the sheer drop of the West Face. 

2. The cam­era pans on a beau­ti­ful panora­ma at the top of Illi­mani as the climbers cel­e­brate their accomplishment. 

If you like these pho­tos, check out more from this trip and oth­ers on our Flickr album!