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Peru with Mountain Madness

Wrapping Up Successful Season In Bolivia

With objec­tives over 21,000-ft., some of the finest weath­er in the Andes, and an intrigu­ing cul­tur­al back­drop, it’s no won­der our Bolivia trips draw the atten­tion of our clients each year. This year five teams joined us on our Moun­taineer­ing School, Cordillera Real Expe­di­tion, and the Trans-Andean Trek or Climb (look for a blog for this trip com­ing soon). Here’s the sum­ma­ry of our last school from MM guide Ian Nicholson.

Self-arrest prac­tice. Ian Nichol­son photo

I could­n’t stop talk­ing about my trip to Bolivia even before the plane had tak­en off the ground in Seat­tle. I was stoked when I got on the flight to La Paz and met up with two of our climbers, Michael and Rod­ney, on the flight. We arrived in La Paz late that night where I met my fel­low guides, Ossy and Sebas­t­ian. The next morn­ing we met the rest of the group and held offi­cial intro­duc­tions over break­fast. The trip start­ed off with an inter­est­ing walk­ing tour of La Paz, vis­it­ing the cap­i­tal, a local gear store called Tatoo, and the famous Witch­es Mar­ket. Our guide Theodoro pro­vid­ed us with a great insid­er’s view of the Boli­vian cul­ture and the his­to­ry of the area. The next day Theodoro took us to Tiwanaku, a pre-Incan Andean cul­tur­al site and took a boat ride across Lake Tit­i­ca­ca. The day end­ed with a late din­ner in Copacabana.

Day 4 was spent on the beau­ti­ful Isla Del Sol in the mid­dle of Lake Tit­i­ca­ca where we hiked across the island and explored the Incan and Pre-Incan ruins.

Day 5 took us into the Con­doriri region and the trail­head to our first base camp. We parked at 14,200 feet and reached the Con­doriri Base Camp at 15,300 feet in 1 hour 45 min­utes. The next day, I climbed with Jay and Tony to the sum­mit of the 17,200 foot Pico de Aus­tria while Ossy and Sebas­t­ian took the rest of the group to the edge of the glac­i­er to learn cram­pon­ing and oth­er basic snow skills. Anoth­er day of glac­i­er skills had every­one feel­ing pre­pared for the sum­mit climb the next day.

Ice anchors 101. Ian Nichol­son photo

On the way to first sum­mit. Ian Nichol­son photo

8 of the 11 clients reached the sum­mit of Tar­i­ja, and 7 of them con­tin­ued on to reach the spec­tac­u­lar sum­mit of Pequeño Alpamyao! The steep exposed South West Ridge brought us to 17,618 feet where we called the MM office from the sum­mit. After the 14 hour round trip, every­one was hap­py to have a rest day the next day. We cov­ered crevasse res­cue in camp and hiked down to the bus where Ossy had orga­nized a piz­za lunch when every­one arrived. We were all thrilled!

Sum­mit of Tar­i­ja. Ian Nichol­son photo

Pequeño Alpa­mayo- objec­tive for both school and Cordillera Real team mem­bers. Ian Nichol­son photo

Ian Nichol­son photo

Sum­mit of P. Alpa­mayo. Joshua Jar­rin photo

On Day 10, we left La Paz ear­ly in the after­noon to bus up to Huay­na Poto­sí just as the snow start­ed falling. It stopped before the next morn­ing as we slow­ly made our way to the high­er hut on the edge of the glac­i­er. We awoke at mid­night on Day 12 to find excel­lent neve and a nice trail beat into the glac­i­er. I guess that’s what you get when you climb what is report­ed to be the most pop­u­lar 6000 meter peak in the world. By 8:30 a.m., 7 of our climbers were stand­ing on the sum­mit of Huay­na Potosí!

On Huay­na Poto­sí. Ian Nichol­son photo

Descend­ing Huay­na Poto­sí after suc­cess­ful climb. Ian Nichol­son photo

Father and son team on Huay­na sum­mit. Joshua Jar­rin photo

A full rest day in La Paz and good­byes to some of the climbers shrunk our team as we pre­pared for the option­al trip exten­sion to the sum­mit of Illi­mani. MM guides Sebas­t­ian and Joshua, along with myself, took Kris­ten, Geoff and Peter to the base of Illi­mani on Day 14 and camped at 14,900 feet. The next morn­ing we hiked to the spec­tac­u­lar Con­dor’s Nest at 18,200 feet. The camp was crowd­ed but we were lucky to grab space for our tents on dirt. After a windy night’s sleep, we began our sum­mit climb. The strong winds cre­at­ed an extra chal­lenge for us, espe­cial­ly as we reached 19,700 feet. Around 21,100 feet, Peter, Geoff, Sebas­t­ian and I decid­ed to call it quits and head back down to camp. Although we were less than 100 ver­ti­cal feet from the sum­mit, there was still close to anoth­er hour of hor­i­zon­tal trav­el. Kris­ten and Joshua con­tin­ued on and reached the sum­mit of Illi­mani! Con­grats to both of them!

Illi­mani base camp. Ian Nichol­son photo

Near­ing the sum­mit of Illimni. Ian Nichol­son photo

What a great expe­ri­ence to see such stun­ning peaks and work with Ossy, Sebas­t­ian, Joshua and Rober­to as guides in Bolivia. The group was great and, again, con­grat­u­la­tions to every­one for push­ing out of your com­fort zone and reach­ing new goals!”

~ MM guide~ Ian Nicholson