La Paz Stories and Tips

Huayna Potosi - the facts

1. Don’t even think about this unless you’re acclimatised. Just don’t. The agencies will tell you to make sure you’ve had at least a few days in La Paz, but given that you’re going to go to over 2,000m higher, I’d go for a few days trekking in Sorata first.

2. It’s difficult. Even with all the acclimatisation, it’s going to be a long, difficult slog.

3. Choose your agency carefully. The mountains are not a place to play cowboys. I went with Azimut Tours but wouldn’t recommend them because of their relaxed attitude towards safety.

4. Check all details, particularly equipment. Do you need to buy or rent anything (e.g gloves, sleeping bag)?

5. Don’t assume everything works or is okay. Check it all at least a day before, particularly harnesses (does it fit? do the buckles double back?). Under no circumstances accept harnesses that have been "modified" by the agency.

6. Make sure you get a helmet – basic safety.

7. Once you have the whole kit, make sure you know how to use it. Do you know how to use an ice axe and crampons? Ask the guide before you set out for the summit, as freezing on the side of a mountain in a gale is not the best classroom. Many agencies offer an extra day at the mountain practicing, which is also good for acclimatisation.

8. Bring spare batteries for your head torch. I don’t care how new they are, they’ll run out. And you’ll be left in the dark.

9. Wear sunscreen. Everyone forgets it at 1am and is too tired/busy later. And everyone comes out looking like they’ve been in a nuclear strike. A peeling nose is such a classy look.

10. Enjoy yourself. That’s why you’re doing it. Let the anticipation build. Take time to enjoy the summit. Safe climbing!

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