In Bolivia, near La Paz, is at an altitude of 6,088 m. Out of all six-thousand meter summits, it’s considered one of the easiest to reach. So if you want to feel and witness what it’s like to be at such an altitude, it’s definitely worth it to pick up the gauntlet. Just keep in mind that everybody reacts to altitude a little bit different.
Is Huayna Potosi mountain for everyone?
Well I think yes. To reach the summit you do not need to have climbing skills or experience with the use of crampons. You just need to be in good physical condition and to be ready to walk around 8-10 hours in snow. For sure a strong will and of course desire do this kind of pleasures is essential. (Also if you have any health problems, before you will decide to climb any high mountain, consult with a doctor.)
There is one main difficulty in climbing Huayna Potosi, that is the altitude. Because it is different for every person, it is tough to say if it will be hard or not. Each one reacts differently. Some people do not have any problems with altitude, some start to feel it at last part of the trip, some in the middle, and some even at the beginning. It’s important to have a plan if altitude gets to you, however the best prevention is making sure your at least mildly acclimated before journeying.
The best way to climb Huayna Potosi summit?
The best time to climb Huayna Potosi is from May to September, although I was visiting Bolivia in early November. But definitely it was the last opportunity to do this tour. In the next days the weather changed a lot and it would have been impossible to climb this summit.
There are a lot of companies with which you can organize the trip, but do your research because not all companies are equal. I recommend the ones which have their own lodges on the way to the summit.
How much does it cost to climb Huayna Potosi? It actually is not so expensive. For our trip, the team spent about 950 “bolivianos” per person.
There is also one more issue to think about before choosing your tour. Namely, whether the tour offered is a 2 or 3 days option.
I recommend you choose 3 days option. The price is almost the same as the 2 days tour. And definitely if you choose the longer option you will have extra day for acclimatization and additional half a day of climbing course. I decided to buy the tour with 3 days and I was very happy for this choice. Our time was great there and I did my first climbing course, which was a really nice experience. I highly recommend the longer option for anyone who has never tried climbing before.
How many hours you will have to hike and climb before reaching Huayna Potosi summit?
The first day is easy. You will go by bus from La Paz to the first base (what will take around 2 hours). After a while you will have a climbing course nearby, with all the equipment.
The second day is a little bit harder, because you need to go to the second base camp which is situated on around 5200 m. On this day you will have to carry all your equipment, what will not make your trekking easier. The good thing is that you can hire a porter to do it (the cost in 2013 was around 100 bolivianos). I decided to go with the bag on my back, but I have to admit, that I had some problems on the way. I was very tired and I felt sick. But finally somehow I found extra energy to finish this part. The thing which surprised me was, that the next part, from the second base to the summit, I did not have any problems. Probably my body got used to the altitude and the extra effort.
The hike to the second base camp took us around 5 or 6 hours. We arrived there around 3:30 pm and the rest of the afternoon we tried to rest and sleep.
Actually I could not sleep a wink. My friends from the team had the same problem. For sure it was because of the altitude. The attack of the summit we started at midnight. Unfortunately two of our friends had to finish the tour 10 minutes after leaving the second base, because of the altitude sickness. The rest of us were continuing the climbing and we finished with success.
It took us more than 6.5 hours to reach the destination. On the top everyone felt wonderful. I was very proud of myself, because it was my first climb and first time being so high.
I was the last person who left the summit. I loved the view from the top so much, than I just did not want to come back to the base. Finally, very happy and relaxed I started to come back. During that part we could admire a beautiful landscapes and take pictures, what was impossible earlier because of the dark.
We even had one extra adventure. By accident I lost my helmet, which rolled down a big hole. Fortunately we managed to rescue it.
It took us around 2.5 hours to get down to the second base, where we rested a little bit, drank hot tea and after a while we went to the first base. This part took us another 3 hours. In the first base we had a very delicious lunch after which we packed our equipment and we came back to La Paz. Our expedition full of positive impressions finished in the evening. We were tired but also ready for the next adventures.
If you have the possibility, try to climb Huayna Potosi summit! You will have a lot of fun. Just please remember about the acclimatization before starting the trip.