6000m twofer (Sajama 6,542m, Parinacota 6,342m)

Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
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Trip End Jan 19, 2012


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Flag of Bolivia  , Oruro,
Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 8:
We take the bus to La Paz and find a cheap but quiet hostel near the bus station.

August 9:
We visit La Paz. there is a lot to see and explore in the giant city. At the same time we shop for our next mountaineering outing. We meet other mountaineers who tell us that the weather near La Paz might not be the best for the upcoming week so we head for the sure weather bet, Sajama, ĘBolivia's high point at 6,542m.

August 10:
After locating fuel for our stove (which wasn't easy), we take the bus to Patacamaya, then another one to the small altiplano village of Sajama situated at 4,200m. We spend the late afternoon playing basketball with the local kids and enjoying the sunset. Then we set up our tent at the edge of the village.

August 11:
We make our way to Sajama Base Camp at 4,800m. So many camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicunas) along the way.

August 12:
Up to Sajama High Camp at 5,600m. It is hard work on steep terrain to bring our heavy loads up there. The night is windy

August 13:
Up at 2:30am and on the move to the summit at around 3:45am. The wind has died down and the way up is exciting with a few steep sections and an exposed ridge. We reach the summit of Nevado Sajama (6,542m) without issue and are back to High Camp at 10:30am. Then we decide to make it all the way back down to the village. We reach the village of Sajama at around 4:00pm and head for a local restaurant to get our first taste of alpaca meat. We have enough energy to attempt another 6000M peak...one just across the border on the Chilean side: Parinacota (6,342m).

August 14:
Transportation to Parinacota's Base Camp is pretty pricy (800 Bolivianos = USD$125) so we decide to cover the 27km on foot. It is a fun approach and fortunately the mountain is non-technical so we left behind the heavy equipment (like rope, harness, pickets, screws, helmet). However, we have to carry more water than usual as the approach to the mountain isn't documented and the landscape is arid. We cache a couple water bottles for the way back and discover a water source along the way.  

August 15:
At 3:00am we are on our way for a summit attempt. A lot of traversing in sand at first then we connect to a foot trail that switches up the volcano's slope.  The wind gets increasingly stronger as the day advances. When we reach the snowline, we are in deep penitentes...for 5h of grueling effort. I guess the previous peak (Sajama) took a lot out of us. We reach the crater rim at 1:00pm, pretty exhausted after 10 hours of uphill effort. After a quick lunch, it is only 25 minutes more to reach the hight point of Parinacota (6,342m)....We did it: our first 6000M twofer (two in a row).
We make it back to our tent at sunset and call it a day after 15 hours of effort.

August 16:
Easy day today. All we have to do is make it back to the village of Sajama. We pack up the tent in cold wind and head east. Our water caches are frozen solid and we also try to locate one of the hot springs along the way but without success.

August 17:
In Sajama, we catch the one-and-only collectivo that departs at 6am. The morning is so cold that everyone wears his down jacket and we have to jiggle our toes for at least an hour to prevent frostbite :-), 4 hours later we arrive in Patacamaya,then share a taxi with other climbers headed for La Paz.
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