In 2012 there were heavy snowfalls in both the rainy and dry seasons, which sometimes made for difficult conditions on the Andean faces. Conversely, the good snow cover made at least one new route possible, on Huayna Potosi’s south peak. The guru of Bolivian climbing, Alain Mesili, is producing a third guidebook, which has fewer routes than his former editions but more details. It is being translated into English by Robert Rauch with the help of Chris Clarke, both La Paz residents.
A new guide to the sport climbing at Peñas has been published. This venue, set at 4,000m on the altiplano, one hour’s drive from La Paz, provides fun climbing and perfect acclimatization for the visiting alpinist. Among the 30 or so established routes are five four-pitch lines, from 5 to 6a+/6b. There is also rock climbing on the granite crags above the Refugio Casa Blanca, close to Zongo Lake.
Most Bolivian rock climbers are sport climbers, without trad gear. There are naturally protected climbs at Peñas, but they are mostly ignored. However, in the mountains (for example, on the granite walls of the Quimsa Cruz), nearly all cracks are trad, though this area also has worthwhile partially bolted routes. There is good bouldering at Peñas and at Challkupuncu, a huge collection of boulders in a half-desert area at ca 4,000m near Sajama National Park, four hours’ drive from La Paz.
There continue to be access difficulties in Bolivia. El Penon, the local climbing ground in La Paz, was closed, though at the time of writing some problems appear to have been resolved. And Rumi Campana, the crags above Oruro, three hours’ drive from La Paz, will probably be off-limits.
Robert Rauch, Bolivia Tours