I actually wanted to cross the Cordillera Real from north to south but during the rainy season there was no guide willing to go. And also the guides did not want to go on a 10 day hike without mules which would carry their food. Lazy ones! Going without a guide during the rainy season with high rivers and snow would have required a proper research and a decent amount of preparation. So I decided to just climb one of the higher mountains and enjoy the view from above.

We drove from La Paz to the Base Camp at 4.700 where we stopped for a quick lunch. You normally have the option of a three or two day tour. The three day gives you one night in base camp and a bit more time to acclimatise to the altitude. I hoped that I was acclimatised enough to the La Paz level of 3.600m and since I haven’t really been affected by altitude sickness on all my trips I gave it a go in two days. Meaning that we left for High Camp after lunch. A nice and easy 500m climb though amazing landscape.



When we arrived at the High Camp after about 2h the camp was locked. Eulogio tried to find the key which apparently was always hidden underneath one of the rocks but no luck.

Luckily enough there was a second camp near by where we spotted people and so our guide negotiated for us to stay there instead. Good call – would have been way to ugly out there without a tent during the night. We had good company and after a dinner at five we all laid down to rest.

At 23.45h was wake up again and we got ready to leave. The night had been so and so. It was partly completely clear with amazing views of the stars and the peak and then an hour later it snowed again. We had heard from the groups that came down the morning we arrived that they all had to turn back because the avalanche danger was just to severe after a lot of new snow during the last days. So we were all worried a bit about more snow.

Anyways at around 01.00am we left. 20 minute of rock climbing before we put our crampons on and went on the glacier. And then a five hour hike over the glacier started. A lot of easy parts, some steeper ice climbing and a lot of switchbacks to get around the massive crevasses. Unfortunately we were just a bit too slow for me. I was last in our roped party and in order to keep the rope tight I could always only walk three to four steps before I had to stop and wait for a bit. With this stop and go I never got into a rhythm and I was also getting cold. And on top we got caught in between the other groups being even slower and taking a lot of breaks. The temperature dropped to around -10C and I was glad that the wind was not strong. The gloves i rented were crap and my fingers were gone after about three hours.


And then at around 6.00am it was getting lighter and lighter and you could see the sunrise below the cloud layer which was probably 1000m below us. An amazing play. We were stuck again probably 70m away from the peak on a very steep slope. One group tried to make its way up the last bit through a very steep section and everybody had to wait again. I was to cold and to afraid to slip to take my camera out of my backpack to take pictures. After about 30 minutes of waiting our guide decided to turn around since he saw the other group struggling. It was a lot of fresh snow and therefore it was impossible to find proper ice to put ice screws in to secure us from a slip. He said we would take an alternative route. We therefore climbed down again for a bit – how painful since you just pushed yourself up and you knew you had to go it up again at one point of time. The views though were getting better and better.


We traversed over a flat part of the glacier which was full of big and small crevasses which you could very often identify by the sunken in snow bridges. The snow became deeper and softer – not a good sign if you have to cross crevasses. So we debated a few times if we should just call it a day. It was already 7am and the sun was getting stronger and stronger. We continued. After we had crossed the field we traversed of a narrow ridge to a little chimney. The snow was know waist-deep and soft. So the ice axe had no grip any more and we barely made any progress. It was tough! When we made it to the final ridge the snow became harder again – which was good. Both sides of the ridge were steep and the one to our right between 70 and 90 degrees steep and looking down we couldn’t even see the end.


Looking back on the ridge we climbed to the peak

At around 7.40h we finally made it to the top! A little ice knob was the highest point of the ridge an we climbed it one by one.



Amazing views from the top. We took five minutes to enjoy but then made our way back, I was seriously concerned about the sun heating up the snow and melting our snow bridges on the way back. So only quick pictures and back.



The field we had to cross and which worried me a bit.


On the way down I stepped into on hole and slid down but thanks to being roped my slide stopped after a few meters. We were all getting tired and my climbing partner David also suffered from the altitude, exhaustion and some nasty blisters. But we pushed on until we safely crossed the field.

We pushed on and tried to get down as quick as possible. First in the sun.



Down the steep section again.

And then we entered the clouds. After about 1.45h we were safely back in High Camp and after a quick soup and packing up we mad our way down to Base Camp again.

What can I say. The way up was sometimes a bit frustrating and showed me again how much I love to go my own pace in the mountains. The ridge climb was tough and beautiful at the same time. Even tough I jelled a few times – that’s part of the game: no pain, no gain. Great to have been back on a proper glacier, mountain and ridge! 🤘