July 3, 2007
Condoriri Climb Day 1
I went to meet everyone at the tour agency this morning. Pedro was already looking pretty bad. He figured he had food poisoning from the night before. This was probably the worst day he could've picked to get sick, but he still wanted to go along for the trip.
We stopped to look for bread on the way out of town. Normally, people sell bread all over the place on the streets, but today there was none. We found out that the city's bakers had gone on strike over increased prices. Finally we were able to find some old prepackaged rolls for sale. I guess they'll have to do.
We went in a taxi down the usual route through El Elto and into the Altiplano. When we were passing through a small village, we turned down what appeared to be a driveway between two houses, but then the route opened up into a hidden road. The 21-KM drive down that heavily-potholed, sparsely populated road took about an hour. The taxi finally dropped us off in a little village called Tuni, which was still within a stone's throw of La Paz sitting under the backside of Huayna Potosi, but being just a few mud brick houses with no other towns in sight, it felt like the remotest place on Earth.
We contracted two donkeys to haul our stuff to our base camp and soon were on our way. I've had the pleasure of using donkeys to haul my gear a few times since arriving in La paz. Walking has been way too easy for me lately.
The walk to base camp was very nice. We went past a large reservoir of water destined for La Paz, and got our first glimpse of the Cabeza del Condor, the toughest mountain I was due to climb at 5648 meters. The Condoriri group of mountains, and specifically the Cabeza del Condor (condor's head) was named because it resembles a condor with outstretched wings. For the entire walk, we had a great view of Huayna Potosi (the opposite face from the one I climbed) in the background.
After a few hours we reached Laguna Condoriri, at about 4750 meters, where we could see the entire group of mountains available to climb. At the far side of the lagoon, we made our base camp. It was an amazing location, somewhere worth visiting just for the sake of seeing it. Pedro's condition didn't improve much throughout the day, and he decided that there was no way he'd be able to make it tomorrow. Teo and I agreed to attempt Cabeza del Condor (our most difficult summit) tomorrow while we still had some energy, and to try Pequeno Alpimayo the next day, hopefully along with Pedro. We cooked dinner early and were in bed before dark in anticipation of tomorrow's climb.
The photo album for this entry is here.