Pequeno Alpamayo, Huayna Potosi, Illimani
Pequeno Alpamayo (17,749 ft / 5,410 m.), Huayna Potosi (19,974-feet/6,088-meter) and Illimani (21,122 ft / 6438 m)

Bolivia: Pequeno Alpamayo, Huayna Potosi, Illimani

These peaks have become extremely popular climbs for aspiring high-altitude climbers. With relatively easy access, low cost and reasonably high success rate, many people new to climbing seek these out for their first big peak. I had a few different reasons to go there in July 2019.

  • First up, I’ve never climbed in Bolivia but they are perfect for some of my Summit Coach Special 2000 COVID pricingends News Year's Eve clients looking to build their skills at higher altitudes so I want to climb them myself.
  • My Ecuador trip with Mountain Madness was outstanding from their back office support to the in-country team led by Ossy Frier.
  • Finally, do I have one more 8000er in me? These climbs will help me understand if I do. I continue to struggle with my fitness after breaking my leg a couple of years ago.

Pequeno Alpamayo

Located at the Condoriri Group in La Coordillera Blanca in Bolivia it stands at 17,749 ft / 5,410 m. It is a pyramid of snow, with the standard route being about 55 degrees, snow, nice in the morning, but sticky later in the day. It was first climbed in August 1962 by South Africans Irene and Keith Whitelock. We wanted to take the West Ridge but a foot of new snow the night before our climb caused us to summit nearby Tarija at 17,400'  instead due to avalanche danger. I took this picture of Pequeno Alpamayo from the summit of Tarija.

Huayna Potosi

Huayna Potosí is 19,974-feet/6,088-meter in the Cordillera Real and the closest high mountain to La Paz. Surrounded by high mountains, it is roughly 15 miles due north of the city, which makes this mountain the most popular climb in Bolivia. The climbing sounds like fun! As one person put it “The summit ridge of Huayna Potosí provided a spectacular finish to this climb. The snow at the top is too narrow for pickets, and too soft for ice screws. If someone falls the only recourse is, hopefully, to jump off the other side in time – in other words “watch you step!” The normal ascent route is a fairly straightforward glacier climb, with some crevasses and a steep climb to the summit. The first ascent of the normal route took place in 1919 by Germans Rudolf Dienst and Adolf Schulze.

When we made our attempt, the winds were gusting to 50 mph with a wind chill well below zero. No one summited that day. I took this picture on the drive out.


At 21,122 ft / 6438 m, Illimani is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real of western Bolivia. It is in easy sight of El Alto and La Paz at the eastern edge of the Altiplano. It is the second highest peak in Bolivia, after Nevado Sajama, and the eighteenth highest peak in South America. The name seems to derive from the word Aymara Illi mani, meaning Golden Eagle. It is infamous when on January 1st, 1985 Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 crashed into the mountain, killing all 29 people on board. I didn't make an attempt due to illness but the rest of the Illimani team summited. I took this picture as we drove out of La Paz.

A full Trip Report is available plus the updates from the climb on my Blog.

As usual, my climbs are to raise awareness and research funds for Alzheimer's Disease. I was thrilled to raise almost $6,000 during these climbs all going to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund for Alzheimer's research. You can still donate at this link. Please learn more at this link.

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Pequeno Alpamayo, Huayna Potosi, Illimani Resources

I attempted Pequeno Alpamayo, Huayna Potosi, Illimani in July 2019 with Mountain Madness