South America, Bolivia, One-day Climbs, Cordillera Real

Publication Year: 1980.

One-day Climbs, Cordillera Real. It is possible to climb Andean peaks in a single day from La Paz. On my first season back in Bolivia after an absence of ten years, I took advantage of this unique situation and accumulated nine such climbs, as well as the usual walks, jeep breakdowns, skiing and so forth. The most convenient climbing is provided by the Charquini group, a five-kilometer ridge south of the Zongo Pass one hour from downtown La Paz. Huayna Potosí and its satellites stand north of this pass. By doubling driving time, you can reach Condoriri, the peaks above Agencia Mina Palcoco, and the mountains walling the Hichucota Valley. The Charquini routes usually involve cramponing on agreeably hard snow, for which stiff boots and rigid crampons obviously are preferable. As for the rock, the granite is variable and the metamorphics tend to be loose. The ice has retreated somewhat in ten years, turning our old routes into dangerous-looking gullies. The granite continues north of the Zongo Pass, providing the skeleton for Huayna Potosí before disappearing beneath Maria Lloco, a frequently climbed 5522-meter summit. Huayna itself is perhaps the only one-day 6000-meter peak on Earth.* My best climb this year was the south ridge of Cerro Milluni, the high southern outlier of Huayna Potosí and a mountain of exceptionally graceful form. As a novelty, I had a climbing partner—one Doc Odel, a solid and fast mountaineer from the Pacific Northwest. When Doc and I climbed Mullu Apacheta Norte a couple of weeks earlier, he had shown respectable adhesive powers, edging on hard snow without crampons at the end of a careful belay. (The crampons were still in Nicaragua where a change of governments had interrupted the mails.) Today Doc had crampons, but while putting on his gaiters at the edge of the glacier, he twisted his knee, earlier damaged in a soccer game or some other ridiculous sport. So he went back to the jeep to sleep and I continued alone, with a touch of angst. A 1000-foot headwall of hard snow began the route. The toe- pointing was like climbing a ladder and the last meters to the col below the ridge were steep, with wide bands of glassy ice requiring careful tool placements. (I found an easier place for the descent of this part.) The climbing above was typically Bolivian—a straightforward couloir, an

easy ridge, a summit slope which seemed to have no end. My doubts of ten years had been answered: The climb had taken exactly six hours from the jeep. I did the following climbs solo except where noted: Charquini group (c. 5300 meters, 17,389 feet), various climbs, including one ski descent and three new snow-and-ice routes on the southwest faces, one with John Greenough, May through August; Taquesi (c. 17,389 feet), July; Millu Apacheta Norte (c. 17,000 feet) (see A.A.J., 1975, pp. 173-6; Peak is WKE 1 on map) with Doc Odel who had to stop before the last steep bit, June; Wila Manquilizani (5324 meters, 17,467 feet), August; Cerro Milluni (5720 meters, 18,767 feet), new route via south face and ridge, July 8; and “Roca Milluni” (5483 meters, 17,989 feet; rock-and-ice peak southeast of Cerro Milluni) with Greenough, September 16.

Stanley S. Shepard

* Although Huayna Potosí is frequently climbed by its easiest route, and several one-day and solo ascents have been made, it is not quite a walkup. A Japanese party took a non-fatal but damaging fall this year, possibly for lack of acclimatization, and Masao Harada disappeared on a solo in 1970, probably falling from the summit pyramid into a crevasse.