Cordillera Real and Huyana Potosi (6088m)

December 10, 2008  •  Leave a Comment
After a couple of days in La Paz I headed out on yet another trek, this time in the Bolivian Cordillera Real, just a couple of hours from La Paz. Started with 3 days of hiking in the Cordoriri range, then drove for 45 min to the starting point for climbing Huyana Potosi.Cordillera Real is quite different from Cordillera Blanca in Peru, but no less impressive. The landscape is much more barren. Not as dramatic at first sight, but in some ways more grand and vast. While Cordillera Blanca looked best in twilight, bringing gentle light to the details, Cordillera Real looked best at high noon, the strong sunlight emphasizing the contrast.Huyana Potosi is a 2-day climb, with the first day a fairly simple climb from 4750m to a refuge at 5100m. Rising at midnight, we started climbing just after 1am, aiming to be at the summit by sunrise. The mountain was more technical than Vallunaraju in Peru, the last few hundred meters a fairly steep climb up ice and rocks. But when it comes to high-altitude mountaineering, nothing is more important than acclimatization. And this time, I had plenty of it. Even before leaving La Paz I had already spent over a week at 3800-4100 meters and the preceding 3-day hike was all between 4700 and 5300. So while a 1000 meter ascent is never trivial, I had a much easier time reaching Huyana Potosi than the 400 meter lower Vallunaraju in Peru.Unfortunately I wasn't nearly as lucky with the weather so the pictures are not in the same league. In fact, it snowed pretty much the entire time. The guide said both the night before and on the way up that he doubted we would be able to summit. But at least we were lucky enough that there was very little wind and I even had a few minutes of clear views just before we reached the peak.Full albums here: Cordoriri Trek and Huyana Potosi

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