The ascent of Huayana Potosí in Bolivia

Right from the center of La Paz in Bolivia you can admire beautiful mountain. It is called Huayana Potosí and it has 6 088 m. One afternoon David came with a great idea: “Let’s climb up!” “But we don’t have any equipment or training,” said Karel. Soon we were already looking for travel offices offering expeditions.

We got an interesting offer from one local climber who explained us everything and offered us very nice price for 3-day expedition including gear rental, guide, food and mountain huts. “We are already a little bit acclimatized and how many times you get the opportunity to climb a six thousand meters high mountain for 150 USD!” there was no reason to wait!

We bought this expedition and we took couple more days for acclimatization in La Paz. For this purpose it is the best to take the red funicular to Bairro Alto where you can take a walk in 4 200 m a.s.l. and enjoy beautiful views on the city and mountains around it.

1st day of expedition to Huayana Potosí
The day of the expedition arrived. We were introduced to Frenchmen Fabien who joined us. We tried all the equipment and walked to the base camp. It was the end of the Andean New Year. At this time people are celebrating and waiting all night for the first morning sun rays which are supposed to bring them good luck. When we arrived to base camp it was midday and they were still drinking beer. We couldn’t resist even if it is one of the worst things for altitude sickness.

After lunch we started with training of walking and climbing on the ice. We have never tried this before and we really enjoyed it. It was really exhausting in this altitude. We went to bed very early to gain strength for next day. In the morning we packed our backpacks with all the equipment and we walked up to next camp which was 5 200 m high. We had the whole day for acclimatization and we went for a short walk a little bit higher. David had headache all day but he was still determined to go all the way up. Kate had difficulties with the altitude as well and she was moving very slowly. After the dinner we went directly to bed but we couldn’t sleep well, turning from one side to another until 1 A.M.

The D-Day finally arrived!
After a short breakfast we took our backpacks and started our ascent in the middle of night. One of the guides with nickname Super Mario was walking very fast in front of us. This 60-year old mountaineer was indestructible! Kate couldn’t walk this fast in the high altitude and she decided to return to the hut.

Soon we put the crampons on and continued forward on ice in two groups. The Frenchmen was in a group with Canadian guy and Super Mario. Karel and David went with another Bolivian guide. His name was so complicated that we have never learned it. He has been guiding in the mountains already over 10 years which was obvious from his physical condition. We were even faster than indestructible Super Mario and all other groups on the way, including Czech climbers who went up on their own without any guide. We were almost running on the ice. “He is crazy. Pull his rope to slow him down a little bit!” was screaming David to Karel. It was getting harder to breathe.

We carried with us coca leaves, chocolate and chocolate bars. Everything was starting to freeze as we were getting to higher altitude, including our smiles. We made it through the hardest ice part and we were going on in crazy pace. Luckily we were taking many breaks to drink and eat some snacks and coca leaves. David was already feeling little bit dizzy and he was walking like a drunk person. “Last 100 meters guys and we are almost there!” the Bolivian guy was encouraging us.

We made it – Travel4ever on the top of Huayana Potosi
“We made it. I can’t believe it!” we were so happy to be on the top. “Sit here and don’t move too much!” was telling us our guide. We imagined that we will be walking on the top and taking pictures but at the end we were very glad that we could sit down. The top was very steep. We were very lucky that it wasn’t windy and we weren’t cold. We could comfortably wait for the sunrise.

The sunrise was really beautiful. Suddenly we could see the way we took up. Karel dislocated his shoulder while taking pictures with Czech flag! “Ouch, it hurts, wait I will put it back!” he screamed. Karel put his shoulder back in half a minute. “Ufff, I don’t know how I would get down from 6000 m high mountain with dislocated shoulder!”

Other groups were starting to come up and we were slowly descending. Especially the first part of the descent looked very dangerous. Now even Karel got headache. Chewing coca leaves was not helping anymore. “My chocolate is frozen and water too!” it must have been freezing during the night. During our descent the sun was getting up and it was getting warm. When we arrived to the huts we were sweating and we were completely exhausted. Kate was welcoming us back with congratulations.

“Have some tea and toasts we are going down in one hour!” told us our guide when we arrived to the hut. “I have never been this tired in my life,” said David. We could barely move but we had to pack our backpacks again and continue to the base camp. A minivan was waiting there for us and we were soon back in La Paz. After a short nap we all met with French and Canadian guys for a beer to celebrate and to evaluate one of the biggest experience of our life!

Well done to all climbers from Travel4ever team!! It was not easy!

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