Destinations >Bolivia

With ascents of

Pequeño Alpamayo
17,613 ft /5370m

Huayna Potosi


The Cordillera Real, Royal Range, offers superb mountaineering opportunities for mountaineers of all abilities. Several peaks pierce the sky over the Bolivian Andes rising to over 6400 meters. This trip combines a comprehensive curriculum of glacier travel and high altitude mountaineering skills with summit attempts on Huayna Potosí, (19,968'/6088m) and the "shining one" Illimani (21,125' / 6439m). If you are limited on time, our trip may be split into segments.

The trip begins with catching our breath in the high city of La Paz. After a day of local sightseeing and market visits, we will visit the pre-Incan ruins of Tiwanaka. Following this we will travel to the town Copacabana along the shore of Lake Titicaca where we improve our acclimatization by boating and hiking around the lake. The next few days will be spent learning and honing our snow and glacier skills from a 15,200’ basecamp amid the high peaks surrounding Chiar Khota or Lago Condoriri. Pack animals will assist us in reaching the lake. Peak Condoriri, representative of a condor about to take flight is the namesake mountain that overlooks the region. Having acclimated, we can now attempt peaks such as Pequeño Alpamayo (17,613'), Ilusioncita (16,896') or Ilusion, (17,500') or even the summit of Condoriri. All require early starts, careful glacier navigation, and have sections of narrow ice ridges or steep ice slopes. From here, it’s on to one of our primary objectives, Huayna Potosi.

Huayna Potosí at 6088 m / 19,974' is Bolivia’s most frequented mountain and resembles an ice pyramid. To the people of the region it is an important mountain god. Climbing Potosi begins with a night at Zonga Pass and a day of hiking over mixed glacial terrain to Campamento Argentino at 17,800'’. Early the next morning we shoulder our packs and climb toward the snowy summit.

After resting in La Paz, we drive to Hacienda Una from where we begin our short trek to basecamp of Illimani. Several summits comprise the massif described in Mountain World as "one of the most beautiful groups of peaks in South America." From the first camp, Puente Roto, we work our way up to Nido de Condores (Condor’s nest) at 17,880' feet above sea level and position ourselves for a summit bid of Illimani's north peak early the next day (21,125'’)


Difficulty: The majority of routes follow easy to moderate glacier slopes with occasional sections of 40-50 degree snow/ice before reaching summit ridges. The trip is suitable for both beginning and intermediate level mountaineers.

Skills covered:

• Snow and ice climbing, ice axe positioning, and moving in balance
• Self arrest techniques
• Snow and ice anchor selection, construction, and equalization
• Ascending and team crevasse rescue practice. Mechanical advantage systems such as
C/Z drags and drop loop methods.
• Roped glacier travel and route finding through crevassed areas
• Glaciology and crevasse pattern prediction
• Navigation using maps, altimeters, and compasses
• Campcraft skills – tent set-ups, water treatment, pack fitting and loading
• Mountain weather, alpine ecology, lightning, hazard assessment
• Discussions on high altitude physiology and other related expeditionary topics
• Expedition medicine and basic wilderness medical topics
• Natural history and Leave No Trace ethics

Segment 1, Sightseeing, glacier school, Condoriri peaks, Huayna Potosi – 12 days.
Segment 2 –add Illimani to above. 16 – 17 days.

Ratio: 1 guide to 3 – 4 clients.

Expedition leader: Jon Tierney, IFMGA International Mountain Guide.

Proposed Itinerary:

Segment 1
Day 1: Acclimating, Exploring La Paz.
Day 2: Visit pre-Incan Tiwanaka Ruins
Day 3: Travel to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca. Visit Island of the Sun.
Day 4: Establish basecamp by Lago Condoriri
Day 5-6: Learn and practice snow and glacier skills.
Day 7: Apply skills on a lesser peak in area.
Day 8: Attempt Pequeño Alpamayo
Day 9: Descend and Travel to Zongo Pass.
Day10: Hike to Campo Argentino at the base of Huayna Potosi.
Day11: Attempt to reach the summit of Huayna Potosi.

Segment 2
Day 12: La Paz rest day
Day 13: Travel and hike to basecamp on Illimani.
Day 14: Ascend to high camp at Nido de Condores.
Day 15: Attempt to reach the summit of Illimani.
Day 16: Descend and return to La Paz to celebrate.
Day 17: Return to the US.

A History of
Leading the way...

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is the preeminent leader in climbing instruction and guiding in Acadia and across Maine. We specialize in designing customized experiences or training for you, your family or your group.

Directed by internationally recognized IFMGA guide Jon Tierney who has been climbing in Acadia since 1982. Jon has over 30 years of local and worldwide experience. The IFMGA requires full AMGA certification as a rock, alpine and ski mountaineering guide.

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• Since 2007 •
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