June 26-27, 2007
Climbing Illimani seemed to be out of reach for me, both financially and geographically. When I told Nicolas, a French Canadian guy I met at my hostel a few weeks ago, about my options of either doing one more trek before going to Peru, going to Peru now, or going to the high camp at Huayna Potosi in preparation for Illimani, he told me of his own plans to climb Huayna Potosi without a guide. He suggested that I come with him all the way to the summit instead of just going to the high camp, then if all went well, he might accompany me to Illimani with a guide. At first the idea of me climbing a mountain without a guide seemed crazy. But then I realized that I had already climbed Huayna Potosi a year ago, so I knew what to expect, and Nicolas had all his own mountain gear and plenty of experience. On top of that, finding a partner to climb Illimani with normally would be practically impossible, and if Nicolas went with me, it would drive the cost down considerably. Suddenly, the idea didn't seem so crazy after all.
We decided to give Huayna Potosi a shot. It took awhile, but eventually we found a shop that would rent out mountain climbing gear to me at reasonable price. We also arranged to go to the mountain in the same taxi as a couple who were going to go with a guide, so it worked out to be pretty cheap. Another added bonus was that we could judge how good the guide was on this mountain and decide later if it would be worth going to Illimani with him. My plans finally appeared to be coming together.