The mountains of Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo are both within 40km of La Paz in the Condoriri Group of the La Coordillera Blanca part of the Bolivan Andes of Latin America, a bit of a mouthful! If fact on a clear day you can see both peaks from the edge of the city. Confusingly, Bolivia has two capital cities, the official one being Sucre but the second is La Paz. The government sits in La Paz but the ‘seat of justice’ is in Sucre (one for the pub quiz?). At 3200-4100m, La Paz is at the limit of the human body is prepared to accept as a permanent home. Arriving here on a plane from sea level therefore needs to be followed up with some proper relaxation to let your body catch up with its acclimitisation. As luck would have it, lake Titicaca is nearby to offer up some relaxed days ahead of the climbs.
Huayna Potosi and Pequeno Alpamayo are shapely pyramids in form, with ‘proper’ cartoon-book summits at the culmination of nicely Matterhorn-esque ridges, they are very photogenic.
These features make the peaks look like they should be the preserve of craggy-faced, square-jawed alpinists with triangular upper bodies throwing out one-arm pullups at will. Thankfully for the rest of us, there are actually some relatively straightforward ridge-routes graded at around Alpine grade AD.
That isn’t to say that this is an easy climb that anyone can do though. Anyone considering it does need to have previous experience of altitude, a head for heights, composure, experience with crampons, ice axes and basic rope-work. This will not only help to ensure your safety, but also your enjoyment and how much you are able to take in and get the most from the climb.
Along with climbing in the Himalayas, an expedition to the Andes has to rate as one of the great adventures that all aspiring mountaineers have on their bucket list. So in answer to the question; ‘What on earth is a Huayna Potosi or a Pequeno Alpamayo?’ – it is a great opportunity for the aspiring mountaineer to come out to Bolivia and climb not one but two beautiful ‘Andes’!
Take a look at the Adventure Alternative website for more info.