7/1/2011: La Paz to Huayna Potosi

I am so disorganized that it is painful. No matter what I do, I'm always the last one ready, and I'm always rushing around like crazy just to be late.

At Tarija, I had a pee bottle that was designed for use by sick people. The design perhaps made it easier to use for someone lying down, but the cap on it was far from secure. It was tippy, and if it were full and tipped over in the tent, it would make a real big mess. So I decided to use the morning to buy a Nalgene-like bottle with a tight-fitting lid to use as a pee bottle.

But first, a recap of the previous night. When I was going to bed the previous night, I made a mistake.  My nose was a little drippy, so I took my four hour antihistamine. So four hours later, around 2 AM, when the antihistamine wore off, my nose started being more runny, which also made it harder to get enough air through my nose. (Remember that even in La Paz, I was up around 12,000 feet) Eventually things settled down, and I got to sleep. Unfortunately, I found that with the blanket I was cold, and with the comforter I was too hot. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep all that well.

It looked like it was going to be one of those days. When I took a shower, the water wouldn’t get above luke-warm. I eventually went in, as there was no alternative, and although the water warmed slightly a bit later in the shower, at no time did I end up adding any cold water to the mix.

I went down for breakfast, and then was unexpectedly joined by Agata and Elaine. After breakfast, I did a little organizing, then the three of us and Mati went for a walk to get more gear. The girls got heavier mitts, Mati got a down jacket, and I just wanted a Nalgene bottle for pee. They only had a small one, so I had to go a few stores down, and they had one. Then we hiked back.

At that point, I was beginning to get a little more apprehensive about the climb. I wrote: It is getting scary again. For the climb it is supposed to be cold, snowy, and windy. What fun!

Due to the weather, I couldn't get any good pictures of Huayna Potosi, so here are some from the internet:

Diagrams of Huayna Potosi Route

I had only a little time before lunch, so I played with filtering water and mixing in some goo (a powdered energy mix). I did some organizing then ran off for lunch at a place Sebastian recommended. He was going to be there at noon, so I wanted to join him so that I would have a translator. The lunch took longer than I had hoped for, so I didn't run out of the restaurant until just after one, which was the time we were supposed to be ready to board the bus. I gave Sebastian some money and hurried down to the hotel.

I was happy that I could find my way around La Paz, but at one point things did not look familiar. Given the time, I really didn't need to get lost. I wandered a bit then asked a police officer. I had taken a slightly wrong turn and gone about 5 min. too far, so I had to backtrack. I really didn't need to lose those 10 min.

Up in my room I rushed around like a maniac, dumping the goo (whose taste I hated), and filtering clean water, changing clothes, and doing final packing. I carried my duffel to stay at the hotel down and checked it around two. I dashed back up and got my full pack, day pack, and my poles and hurried down. Everyone was already on the bus. Sebastian took my full pack. I checked out, grabbed my day pack, and hurried out to the bus.

As I got settled in the bus, I saw someone with a camera. This jogged my memory, and I thought I had left mine in the room next to the day pack. So I jumped off the bus, had to go to the front desk, get a new card, hurry up to my room, find the camera, hurry down, give them the room key, and dash out to the bus.

(See note at the beginning of this page.)

After we drove off, I couldn't remember taking my trekking poles from under my day pack. I thought I had left them in the lobby, but with the bus already gone, I couldn't go back to get them.

We drove up through some back roads to the plateau, and then ground up a dirt road towards the mountains. This went on for quite some time. It got colder and colder. The light rain from La Paz turned to snow, and the ground got snowier and snowier.

We went over a ridge and then ground up the Zongo Valley. We passed herds of llamas, and a string of small lakes made by dams. We eventually got to the hut, although we couldn't quite reach it because the road was too snowy. I carried my day pack up to the hut, then I went back for my big pack. I found my big pack outside the bus with my poles next to it. I'm not sure how they got there, but I was glad.

Entrance to Zongo Valley
Small Lake Made by Dam
Zongo Hut

Inside the hut, I saw my first Bolivian cat. (We had seen lots of dogs, but this was the first cat that I saw there.)

The hut is two stories. The bottom is three rooms – the room at the entry is for equipment. Then there is a dining room and kitchen. Upstairs is one big room with mattresses on the floor for sleeping. Shoes are not allowed upstairs, so this would have been a good time for booties. Of course, they were back in the US.

We met a climber from a different group who happened to be from Poland, so Agata had a long talk with her in Polish.

The plan was to leave the next day for high camp around 10am. It should take around two hours, and although it was snowing, hiking boots should be OK. Then we’ll take an early dinner, hit the sack, and head out for the summit around 2AM.

I was beginning to get nervous again, wondering if I would be too hot or too cold, if the weather would be bad, if the exposure on the final ridge would get to me, etc. The saving grace was that high camp was another hut (on the moraine just below the glacier) and not a tent.

Posters Showing Summit

Internet Credits:
1. Huayna Potosi http://academic2.strose.edu/Math_And_Science/smithj/
2. Huayna Potosi http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Huayna_Potos%C3%AD_La_Paz_Bolivia.jpg
3. Huayna Potosi Route http://www.azimutexplorer.com/img/content/photos_big/ascension_huynap_3dias/mapa_huayna.jpg
4. Huayna Potosi Route http://bolivianmountainguides.blogspot.com/p/climbing-huayna-potosi_17.html
5. Huayna Potosi Route http://ande-mesili.com/en/climbing.htm

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