Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

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Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby MyFeetHurt » Wed May 09, 2012 8:38 pm

Are either of these peaks doable solo, particularly illimani? I'm thinking about heading down to bolivia in July and trying some moderate climbs while I'm checking out Machu picchu. I climb 14ers alone all the time so that doesn't bother me, but can I get up these peaks unroped without taking undo risk? Is there a lot of crevasse danger or super steep long pitches? I'm not a crazy climber but if these are generally basic snow climbs with an axe or two than I'd like to try it. And yes I realize this is a subjective answer so I'm not looking for a lecture, just peoples thoughts!

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby ulvetano » Thu May 10, 2012 7:04 am

I did both last week and would say they could be done solo right now. That said, there is good and solid coverage on the glaciers now, but I believe that changes for the worse as the months pass right now. Also, if any snow falls, the light trail will quickly disappear and you'd be navigating many crevasses off route. Illimani has long sustained sections of 40 degree snow vs. PA's shorter/steeper sections of 55 degree snow/ice.

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby Woodie Hopper » Thu May 10, 2012 9:48 am

I have also climbed both of these. While yes, you could do these solo if conditions are good, in my honest opinion soloing glaciated terrain should in most cases be discouraged. Perhaps you have extensive glacier travel and high altitude mountaineering experience, but if not, soling these two should not be considered.

I'm leaving for another trip to Bolivia later today for Chachacomani and a few other peaks including Sajama. I'm using a local guide I know. If you can't find a partner, you should know Bolivian guide competence varies considerably and due diligence is important in this regard. Some information that could be helpful could be found at

Good luck to you and safe travels whatever you decide. Bolivia is a great place for climbing with great possibilities and adventure.


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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby kushrocks » Thu May 10, 2012 10:03 am

Not so sure about doing it solo but a buddy and I will be down there to attempt those two peaks June 29th to July 9th. We are using a guide though. Looking at logistics, red tape, trying to buy fuel down there in a country that I don't speak the langauge seemed like a big hassel so we just went with a guide. Below is our tentative itinerary. If you are going in July after we get back we can give you my best opinion and thoughts on it. However, I think there is a major difference in hiking 14ers solor and climbing 21k peaks in South America solo in my opinion.

Date Itinerary
Friday June 29th Leave Denver Fly all night
Saturday June 30th Arrive in La Paz really early, hang out and rest
Sunday July 1st Take Bus Ride to Chacaltaya ski area 16,550 then hike up to 17,000
Monday July 2nd La Paz - Condoriri Base Camp (15,219ft.)
Tuesday July 3rd Summit Pico Tarija (17,548ft.) - Little Alpamayo (17,712ft)-Base Camp
Wednesday July 4th Return to La Paz - Rest
Thursday July 5th Drive to Illimani  Base Camp (13,940 m.)
Friday July 6th Condors Nest High Camp (18,204ft).
Saturday July 7th Summit of South Peak Illimani (21,116ft m) - Return to Base Camp.
Sunday July 8th Return to La Paz - Drink lots of beer (Hopefully Celebratory)
Monday July 9th Marathon it home leaving La Paz early in the morning and get back in Denver at10:35pm
" The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain
"Danger in Alpinism is just part of the game. As soon as you eliminate the danger you have just every other sport." Febrizio Zangrilli
“The best climber in the world is the one who is having all the fun.” – Alex Lowe
"To travel, to experience and learn, that is to live" - Sherpa Tensing Norgay (first person to Summit Mt. Everest)
"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit" - Edward Abbey
" Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to loose."

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby seano732 » Thu May 10, 2012 11:58 am

@kush- That sounds like a sweet trip! Just curious, are you using a local guide service, or one from the states (i.e. AAI)? Also, roughly how much are you spending for a trip like this? Sounds frickin AWESOME!!!
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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby MyFeetHurt » Thu May 10, 2012 12:00 pm

Sounds like the glaciers might be a reasonable concern, not really something I want to mess with. I think I'd rather fall off the mountain then get corked in a crevasse solo!

I'll look into some Bolivian guides I suppose.

Is the weather generally fairly stable down there? Having been on Aconcagua the weather was definitely a total crap shoot. I'm hoping this will be a little more predictable, but it is what it is!

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby ulvetano » Thu May 10, 2012 12:29 pm

Inca Land Tours (Eliana and Will) were incredibly helpful throughout my trip. Highly recommend them!

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby Gabriel » Thu May 10, 2012 5:18 pm

The question you should really ask yourself is how you want to climb or attempt to climb these peaks. Is the act of soloing important to you or are you ok being a client on a guided tour? Would finding non paying partners be ok with you or do you really want the solo experience and the risk and reward that comes with it?

Happy climbing,


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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby MyFeetHurt » Thu May 10, 2012 8:17 pm

I don't mind going with somebody, I just don't have a partner lined up and I tend to do things spur of the moment. I just don't feel like paying for a guide unless it's cheap and for logistics. I like to be on my own schedule, it's more relaxing. Definitely more fun with friends though!

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby cheeseburglar » Fri May 11, 2012 5:42 am

This reminds me a little of the hilarious argument around "are you solo when there are other groups on the mountain?"
When we were there, there were multiple groups on Pequeno but only one other group summitted Illimani the day we did.
I'm not sure I would have put off a summit attempt just to be able to say I was solo.
And I would have been nervous on steep sections on both mountains unroped. But I'm old and conservative.
Also, finding the route in the dark is tricky and you could end up on the wrong part of a glacier. These mountains usually involve alpine starts.
The marmot said “Nobody is perfect and you are not nobody.”

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby viejo » Fri May 11, 2012 8:13 am

Excuse me Cheese, but there’s no argument. The Alpine Society of Soloists Having Optimal Lone Expeditions has distinct standards to define solo climbs.

The true solo summit, of course requires a minimum of 3000 ft. elevation gain.
During the ascent (and descent), the soloist must not pass within reasonable contact distance of another climber/s. To reduce judgment calls, this has been defined as a minimum of 100 yards (or 100 meters if you are outside the U.S. ).

No electronic means of communication (text of voice) are to be used during the solo climb. A SPOT or PLB may be on carried by the climber but not used at any time during the aforementioned 3000 ft. IPODs are discouraged but are not within the bounds of the standard.

Obviously there are those who count solo climbs using a lesser standard, and they’re free to do so, but the Alpine Society of Soloists felt it important to have a measurable standard.

Please use your own conscience when deciding when you claim the solo icon.

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Re: Illimani, solo?, Pequeño Alpamayo solo?

Postby SteveBonowski » Fri May 11, 2012 3:13 pm

I've used Bolivian Journeys from La Paz twice for CMC climbs. Good service. I second the emotion about having someone to handle the red tape.


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