4. From La Paz: Huayna Potosí Mountain 3-Day Ice-Climbing Trip
Reach the summit of Huayna Potosi Mountain located in the Cordillera Real Range, northeast of La Paz. Learn the basics of ice-climbing and mountaineering on a 3-day tour that's perfect for those who want a challenging experience and their first adventure in the Andes. The tour includes an initial half-day which will help you acclimatize and practice some basic climbing techniques before your ascent. The second day is a trek up to high camp. The final day will be spent making the challenging climb up the glacier to the summit and then descending.
Start the tour with pickup from your hotel in La Paz, then set off on a 1.5-hour drive to Paso Zongo. Upon arrival, drop your gear in one of the huts and have some lunch to fuel up for the adventure ahead. Begin your 1-hour trek to the lower glacier and listen as your guide provides a briefing and demonstrates some basic techniques for ice climbing and mountaineering. Spend between 3 to 4 hours here and take the chance here to practice these techniques with the guides and climbing equipment. Later in the day, practice ice climbing on small ice walls with safety ropes in place. Afterward, begin the 1-hour hike back to the base camp for an overnight stay in a refuge, where your guides will cook dinner. Lunch and dinner are included on day 1.
After breakfast, embark on a relatively easy 3 to 4-hour hike to the high camp located on a rock buttress at the base of the glacier. Make the ascent on a well-trodden rock path. When you arrive, get the gear ready for the next day, as you'll have an early start in the morning. Take time to rest and rehydrate with an early night in the refuge. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included on day 2.
Start trekking very early at around 1 AM. Be sure to dress up warm as it will be cold. Start your climb on the glacier using crampons and climbing gear. Feel secure as you are tied to a rope for safety during the entire climb. The route will mostly follow a trail on the glacier and includes 2 steep sections, one at around 18,400 feet called the Pala Chica. Follow the trail through a snow and ice wall which is about 33 feet high. Once through this part, keep following the trail on the glacier up to 20,000 feet. From this point, you can see the summit above. The last section to the summit is great climbing on an exposed ridge.
When you reach the summit, admire spectacular panoramas of Illimani (21,100 feet) and Illampu (20,900 feet). After taking some photos on top, head back down the same way to high camp. Once back at high camp, have a short rest and pack up the gear. Then, head back down to base camp to meet your transport back to La Paz. The entire climb on this day takes between 9 - 13 hours. Breakfast and lunch are included on day 3.