Huayna Potosi is a mountain in Bolivia, located about 25 km north of La Paz in the Cordillera Real.
Huayna Potosi is the closest high mountain to La Paz, a city which is surrounded by high mountains, and itself is the highest capital city in the world. Huayna Potosi is roughly fifteen miles due north of the city, which makes this mountain the most popular climb in Bolivia. The normal ascent route is a fairly straightforward glacier climb, with some crevasses and a steep climb to the summit. However, the other side of the mountain, Huayna Potosi West Face, is the biggest face in Bolivia. Several difficult snow and ice routes goes up this 1000 meters high face.
The first ascent of the normal route took place in 1919 by Germans Rudolf Dienst and Adolf Schulze. It is often called the "easiest 6000er in the world." However the easiest route entails an exposed ridge and sections of moderately steep ice, with a UIAA rating of PD. There are many 6000m mountains that are easier to climb in terms of technical difficulty. The main reason Huayna Potosi has been called the easiest 6000m climb is that the elevation gain from trailhead to summit is less than 1400 m; with easy access from La Paz. Since La Paz lies at 3600 m, climbers have an easier time acclimatizing.
Climbing the Mountain
Huayna Potosi can be mounted in two daily stages. Climbers generally take a 4x4 up the valley on a gravel road from El Alto taking about two hours to reach a car park at 4700m, Zongo Pass (where a base camp may or may not be established). There is a recently established refugio here. They are happy to book walk ins if they have rooms available, and a reduced price can be negotiated outside of the peak season.
From here it is a 1 - 3 h hike up to the high camp at 5200 m on the snow line (Time taken depends greatly on acclimatization and fitness). It consists of a number of areas of leveled rocks suitable for pitching tents. As of 2006, there is a refuge at the high camp where it is possible to stay the night for around $10. Booking is preferable, and essential during peak season. Conditions are spartan, with all sleeping mattresses placed next to each other on the upper level in two rows.
Most climbers begin their summit attempt between midnight and 3 AM. Fit and well acclimatized climbers rise and leave later, overtaking other groups during the climb, and can reach the summit in around 34 hours, but people frequently take twice that time. The route is usually very clearly visible between the penitentes, and follows the main glacier up directly (across the bergschrund and directly up a ridge) or along an arete on the right. Following that it curves behind the mountain when viewed from Zongo pass. The final approach is fairly exposed, either directly to the summit, or along the summit ridge. The summit is small and frequently has a pronounced cornice, reducing usable space.
Morning sunshine causes the snow to become less stable for walking, and increases avalanche risk from 8 am onwards. The views on a clear morning from the summit are unbelievable - the mountain is far higher than anything else anywhere nearby, and the Cordillera Real, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, and part of the Altiplano they reside on are all visible. Until early 2004 there was a guest book for summiting climbers to sign, unfortunately this overhang collapsed mid 2006 leaving the original metal container protruding out of the summit ridge hanging above the city of La Paz below.
Huayna Potosi on SummitPost.org
Huayna Potosi on Peakware.com
Huayna Potosi West Face
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Huayna Potosi