Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Illimani - report from Fred & Hazel

Yes we´re already back from our latest jaunt.
Getting to Illimani starts with a 4 hour drive by 4wd through mountainous terrain (only 46 kms), and finally arriving at a tiny village at the end of the road where the main occupations are growing papas (spuds) and other crops, and supplying porters and mules for the fairly frequent expeditions. From there mules took our packs up to base camp at 4400 metres. Next morning Andy measured the air temp at minus 17 deg C. Its a very dry cold so we were cosy at night. (Every day is sunny and hot in the sun and every night is clear and cold and it is usually not very windy - this is Bolivian weather from about May to September. The rest of the year it is wet - ie topsy turvey when compared to most other countries)
The next day we carried our day packs up to high camp at 5400 metres (at the snow line) while we trudged up with our day packs.
The high campsite had about 20 people in a small space when we arrived. Luckily most of them were on their way down so we had somewhere to pitch our tents. Hazel and I were very comfortable on the snow.
Unfortunately for me this seems to be the limit of my energy so I stayed behind while Hazel, Chris, Andy and Jesus, our guide headed up the snow at 2 am (so as to be back before the sun softens it). They finally reached the summit (6400 metres) at 8 am. It was apparently very cold up there so they set off back down straight away and got back to camp at about 11 am.
Meanwhile I had been melting snow for 2 hrs to have enough water for drinking and cooking. Our petrol stoves worked well.
After an hour to recover we set out for base camp again, where we stayed last night, and this morning headed back to La Paz.
Its been a very exciting mini expedition but nice to get back to the comforts of the hostel, and a couple of days to recuperate.
All the Best

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