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Huayna Potosí

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Dec 15, 2021

Huayna Potosi is a mountain and National Park in the La Paz Department of Bolivia. It’s about 30 km north of La Paz and the mountain reaches 6088 m above sea level. About 1000 climbers make it to the summit every year, and it is said to be an “easy” peak. Base Camp and the obvious entry point for treks in the park is at Zongo Pass 4700 m, on the way to Zongo. Rock Camp at 5130 m offers great views and is the place from where climbers make their ascent of the peak.

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The mountain was first climbed in 1919 by Germans Rudolf Dienst and Adolf Schulze.

Snow covered “nevados” contrast a crisp blue sky in front of the sea of clouds hiding The Yungas in the east, while the outskirts of El Alto on the Altiplano stretches towards Chile to the west. Glaciers has made the ground on the mountains rocky and the beautifully green dammed lakes in the Zongo Valley adds color to the landscape.

Domestic llamas, sheep and alpacas digest what little plants survives at this altitude. Birds in all sizes are abundant and condors make spectacular moves in the wind. A surprising colony of mice thrive among the rocks in Rock Camp.

Winters are sunny and dry, summers wet and more cloudy. Although snow can fall at any time and season. Winter is the main climbing season.

Map of Huayna Potosi area.

Buses to Zongo Pass depart from Plaza Ballivian in El Alto daily. A minibus leaves at 05:00 and a supposedly larger bus departs at 06:00. Green micros cruise central La Paz and terminates at Plaza Ballivian. Jump off either at “base camp” before Lake Zongo, or at the Refugio Huayna Potosi 2 km further on at the end of the lake.

  • From La Paz it takes 1½-2 hours and drivers will try for Bs. 400 to start with. They should be able to go for under Bs. 200. Cheaper rides from Plaza Ballivian in El Alto, see below.
  • From El Alto it takes 1½ hours and costs around Bs. 100 after bargaining. Green Micros takes you from central La Paz to Plaza Ballivian in El Alto.

Bring copies of passport or remember your document’s number, as there is a police check at the turnoff to Chacaltaya. Police ask for Bs. 2. Another checkpoint is 5 km before Zongo Pass. Drivers are held for 5 minutes by police and are sometimes charged Bs. 5. If you are not keen on organizing the trip yourself, go to an authorized operator. Ex. Topas Bolivia (http://www.topas.bo/climbing/clhp02-uk.htm[dead link])

Map of Huayna Potosí

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