Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bolivia Expedition - Huayna Potosi Summit

AAI currently has a team in Bolivia, and they are close to finishing up their expedition. Read below for AAI Guide Andrew Wexler's most recent dispatch and to view his breathtaking photos of Huayna Potosi. For more dispatches from Bolivia, Denali, and around the world, check out our dispatch webpage.

"Hello again from Bolivia! The 1st Bolivia Expedition of 2008 has returned to La Paz after a successful ascent of Huayna Potosi. Here is a brief re-cap and some highlights from the past few weeks."

Reflection of Condoriri on Black Lake

"Early in the morning on Monday, June 16, the team left the Huayna Potosi High Camp and headed for the summit. Despite some unsettled weather in the area, the skies remained clear and the temps were pleasant. We rolled out of camp on two rope teams and quickly made our way up to the flat basin below the French Face (Campamiento Argentino). From here, the rope team comprised of Tim, Johann, and myself climbed over a short, steep bergschrund and emerged into the day's first rays of sun. Ahhhhhhh... Unfortunately, at about this time, we received a call on the radio that the other rope team (comprised of Jaime, Peter and Michael), were not feeling 'top-banana.' Despite some hemming and hawing, they made the wise decision to listen to their bodies and return to camp. That left the overall success of the climb in the hands of Tim, Johann, and myself."

The Refugio on Huayna Potosi

"We gathered our strength in the rising sun and vowed (our first vow) not to return without a summit scalp! A few hours later, after much flat footing, front-pointing and duck walking, we reached the summit of Huayna Potosi herself. We sat there speechless for a few minutes, (due mainly to the hypoxia, but also owing to the overwhelming beauty of nature), before starting down. Less than two hours later we were back in camp. Michael, Jaime and Peter were feeling better and we vowed (our second vow) to celebrate the Team success in La Paz. Of course, by the time we got back to the city, we were all too knackered to do much of anything and so vowed (our third vow) to celebrate tonight!"

Huayna Potosi in the distance

"During our two and a half weeks together, we had some good laughs, climbed some great routes and ate too many excellent meals to remember. Tim Jung's comment (while listening to the IPOD in the dining tent), 'Are Snoop and Dre the same?' was probably the highlight of the trip . Michael Hennon's laid back composure and constant humor throughout his evening bout with Montezuma was formidable. Peter Wiesenekker's evolution from cramponing neophyte to Pequeno Alpamayo Summiteer was impressive. And Johann Melillo's list of 'First Maltese Ascents' was astounding. Well done!"

A Sunset view of Huayna Potosi from the Condoriri Valley

"That's it from me. Jaime, Johann and Peter will be travelling to Illimani tomorrow morning for a final show down. We wish them the best of luck!"

The Summit Team

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