June 24-25, 2007
La Paz is already the highest capitol city in the world, but it is dwarfed by Illimani, which at 6439 meters, constantly looms in the background. Whenever I entered the city, the massive mountain always seemed to be beckoning me to climb it, and after talking to a few tour agencies, I thought it might just be possible. However, I got an eerie feeling that they were just after my money because they all said "Let's go!" without taking much consideration for my questions regarding the mountain's safety. The other issue was that it would be way too expensive to climb because public transportation to the base of the mountain is difficult to come by. If only I could get accurate information, I could decide for myself if it would be worth the risk and the high price, but accurate information in Bolivia can be extremely difficult to obtain.
Finally one tour agency agreed to let me meet with an actual mountain guide. He told me that he had just climbed Illimani a week ago and knew the mountain well. He pointed out where the crevasses were on a map and said that it wouldn't be too hard to work our way around them. There was a 100-meter ice wall at a fifty-degree slope to worry about, but he thought I could probably handle it. However, he admitted to me that he didn't think I'd make the summit because I'm not acclimated enough. He suggested going to the high camp at Huayna Potosi (a bit higher than 5000 meters) for a few days until I felt comfortable climbing at that altitude. I thanked him for his honest advice and began to consider either doing as he suggested or forgetting the whole Illimani idea and heading to Peru instead.