Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity

Tripoto
23rd Apr 2018
Day 2

When I arrived to La Paz I had no idea I was gonna hike a 6+ thousand meters mountain, but it was one of the first things Ariel told me (a guy I had met shortly in Sucre 2 weeks before). I like hiking and I'm fit , and it seemed a challenge so I thought, why not.

So there we were, 3 days later Ariel, Daniel (his Aussie friend who will end up being one of my best travel buddies ever) and waiting in the agency to get on the car and head to Huayna Potosi. It's a short trip by car, not even to hours, to reach the base camp for the 1st night located at 4700.  We had an early lunch and got ready to spend the afternoon aclimatizing, going for a walk up to 5000 meters and practice some glacier walking and climbing. Luckily all the equipment was included in the price ( jacket, pants, helmet, ice peak, boots, gloves..).
It was cold, misty and rainy/snowy, not the best conditions for our first time walking on a glacier. But it was fun, the guides explained us how to walk up, down, to the sides, and it's funny to see people trying to move on the ice. To close the day, we had to climb a vertical ice walk. I sucked at it, I think I was the worse. My legs are fine, but my arms seem strenghtless.
After that we went back to base camp, a house were a couple of old ladies had a beautiful quinoa sup ready for us. We played some cambio and poker (infusion bags being the chips) and went to our mattresses, sleeping bags. It was cold.

Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz

Ariel before hiking a glacier

Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz

Me sucking at ice climbing

Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz
Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz

Me chilling on the glacier

Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz
Photo of Huayna Potosí, Bolivia by Carlitos Prz
Day 3

We weren't on a rush to start the day, as the hike to the second base camp was only around 2.5h. So we had coca tea and drink of life a.k.a coffee breakfast and started to pack our backpacks leaving behind all the unnecessary gear. Ome of the guys of the group, brazilian, has a really tough night because of the altitude and decided to stay behind. We set up around ten and started the hike towards 2nd camp. Again misty and rainy, couldn't enjoy the landscape at all. After an easy hike only made tough by altitude, we reached our home for the night. Not for the night, as the plan was to start the climb to the summit at 00.00 am. So again a bit of coca, quinoa and cambio and tucked away in bed around 6, to try to sleep a little before the climb. I have to confess that I had downloaded "la casa de papel" those days, so I didn't sleep as much as I should have...anyway, it was freezing cold, only 6pm and mattresses weren't the best, so it was difficult to fall asleep.

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz
Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz
Day 215

Only 4 hours after the alarms clock in the room went off. And funny enough, it looked that no one was ready to get up, I was the first one. Slowly the rest started to awake, with the bad news that the other Brazilians was staying in, the altitude kicking sooner than expected. I was excited and afraid.
After around an hour getting ready (clothes, food and packing our small backpacks) the climbing was starting. And it was a hell of a ride. My partner was Ariel and we have one guide for both of us, Roberto. Leaving the shelter, at 1 am, minus a few degrees and foggy, wasn't fun at all, with the plastic boots specially made for crampons we looked like robots walking. And as I luckily wouldn't see till I came back in the morning, we were walking in sketchy lands. Rocks, holding ropes, cold but sweat, this was gonna be hard. 

Half an hour on the hike, we stopped to put the crampons on and tie up to our guide and partner. I was the last one in our group, a small detail that later on I wouldn't like at all.  We were carrying coca tea, and thank the Inca' s gods we had it. So there we were, walking at super slow pace on the snow, avoiding or climbing crevasses, trying to breath, and enjoying an awesome view of La Paz at night. Yeah, at that point it had cleared up and we were heading to a beautiful sunrise.

I was doing pretty good, whilst Ariel was having some trouble with the stomach and breath. My stomach wasn't good at all, farting is a thing when you reach 5000 meters, but I wasn't feeling uncomfortable, probably the guide going behind me was.

At 6am, just in time for sunrise and with the majority of people climbing that night waiting in a small ice shelter, we reached the bottom of the summit. We were only 100 meters away of our goal, 15 minutes, but the worse was yet to come.

The last part of the climb is on a ridge. So you need to ice climb a small wall and suddenly you are on a 1 meter narrow surface with a few hundreds meters drops on both sides. After walking some meters, a  waist-high wall rises and at least, the drop is only in one side and you can use the ice peak to secure yourself to the wall. The only bad thing about the wall rising is that the path now is around 20cm wide. Yeah, scary as fuck. Luckily it was still pretty dark, so you couldn't really notice the drops. What wouldn't happen on the way back...

We made it. 15 minutes of scary climb and we were there, freezing, but excited as we had never been before. Our first time above 6000 meter. Time for some fast photos, not many as our fingers and noses were about to fall apart.

And here is when I realised that being the last one on the rope wasn't a good idea. I had to go the first on our way back. Yeah, I had to lead the descend in the tiny path. I tripped over only thinking about it and I can tell Ariel was pretty scared about me leading the group lol. I was very scared to be honest, people overtaking me both sides, even walking on the ice wall. Those were probably the worst 20 minutes of my life. But I survived.

Altitude and exhaustion made appearance on our way down, I was literally smashed. As everyone else when we got to base camp. Headaches, stomach issues, cold...but all worth it. We had the best soup I've ever had and after packing all our staff we were soon on our way to the first base camp and, on a very much longer journey to La Paz that it seemed on our way to Huayna.

Day 4

Only 4 hours after the alarms clock in the room went off. And funny enough, it looked that no one was ready to get up, I was the first one. Slowly the rest started to awake, with the bad news that the other Brazilians was staying in, the altitude kicking sooner than expected. I was excited and afraid.
After around an hour getting ready (clothes, food and packing our small backpacks) the climbing was starting. And it was a hell of a ride. My partner was Ariel and we have one guide for both of us, Roberto. Leaving the shelter, at 1 am, minus a few degrees and foggy, wasn't fun at all, with the plastic boots specially made for crampons we looked like robots walking. And as I luckily wouldn't see till I came back in the morning, we were walking in sketchy lands. Rocks, holding ropes, cold but sweat, this was gonna be hard. 

Half an hour on the hike, we stopped to put the crampons on and tie up to our guide and partner. I was the last one in our group, a small detail that later on I wouldn't like at all.  We were carrying coca tea, and thank the Inca' s gods we had it. So there we were, walking at super slow pace on the snow, avoiding or climbing crevasses, trying to breath, and enjoying an awesome view of La Paz at night. Yeah, at that point it had cleared up and we were heading to a beautiful sunrise.

I was doing pretty good, whilst Ariel was having some trouble with the stomach and breath. My stomach wasn't good at all, farting is a thing when you reach 5000 meters, but I wasn't feeling uncomfortable, probably the guide going behind me was.

At 6am, just in time for sunrise and with the majority of people climbing that night waiting in a small ice shelter, we reached the bottom of the summit. We were only 100 meters away of our goal, 15 minutes, but the worse was yet to come.

The last part of the climb is on a ridge. So you need to ice climb a small wall and suddenly you are on a 1 meter narrow surface with a few hundreds meters drops on both sides. After walking some meters, a  waist-high wall rises and at least, the drop is only in one side and you can use the ice peak to secure yourself to the wall. The only bad thing about the wall rising is that the path now is around 20cm wide. Yeah, scary as fuck. Luckily it was still pretty dark, so you couldn't really notice the drops. What wouldn't happen on the way back...

We made it. 15 minutes of scary climb and we were there, freezing, but excited as we had never been before. Our first time above 6000 meter. Time for some fast photos, not many as our fingers and noses were about to fall apart.

And here is when I realised that being the last one on the rope wasn't a good idea. I had to go the first on our way back. Yeah, I had to lead the descend in the tiny path. I tripped over only thinking about it and I can tell Ariel was pretty scared about me leading the group lol. I was very scared to be honest, people overtaking me both sides, even walking on the ice wall. Those were probably the worst 20 minutes of my life. But I survived.

Altitude and exhaustion made appearance on our way down, I was literally smashed. As everyone else when we got to base camp. Headaches, stomach issues, cold...but all worth it. We had the best soup I've ever had and after packing all our staff we were soon on our way to the first base camp and, on a very much longer journey to La Paz that it seemed on our way to Huayna.

Before the last climb

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz

Some crazy dudes

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz

At the summit

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz
Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz

Summiter

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz

On our way down

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz

Best mates you can have

Photo of Hiking Huayna Potosi#adventureactivity by Carlitos Prz
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