Huayna Potosi Normal Route- A climb that took
a little more time than expected.

Huayna Potosi (6088m ).

27th of June 2001
We wanted to climb the normal route on Huayna Potosi as an acclimatization before an attempt on the west face.
We managed to get by all the blockades and demonstrations in El Alto, the suburb to La Paz, and arrived at the refugee at Huayna Potosi at 10:00.
12:00 we departed for high camp, Campo Argentino 5500m and we arrived there without problems at 15:30. We were though the only ones who did not use porters so it was quite hard. At Campo Argentino there was only one tent and it belonged to two Americans, Scott and Lee McCook who had arrived there the day before. We spoke to them for a while and then we made camp, cooked some food and went into our sleeping bags. We wanted to go to the summit the next day.

28th of June 2001
We woke up at 03:00. It was snowing, wind gusts was blowing, and there was no point in trying to reach the summit. We stayed in the tent, vegetated (a word we learned from Scott and Lee) and waited for better weather. Mike was sick and did not feel very well.

29th of June 2001
Again we woke up at 03:00, storm winds was blowing. What had happened to the nice climbing weather that was supposed to always be in Bolivia? Mike was feeling very bad and decided to go down  when the weather calmed down later in the day. Scott also decided to go down. Lee and Olof decided to stay and team up for one more night to see if the weather gods would change their mind. The evening was spent discussing how to find the right girls (in climbing gyms was the result of the discussion), old climbing stories and life in general. Dinner was cooked by Lee who made an incredibly good casserole on noodles, tuna and parmesan. Olof wrote "please summit" in the snow with big letters during the day to calm the wrath of the mountain gods and "Pacha Mama" (Mother Earth). 10-15 other climbers arrived to Campo Argentino. One American girl together with a Japanese girl, three Swiss, a mother with her two daughters and a bunch of Americans.

30 of June 2001
Lee and Olof woke up at 03:00 once again and this time and attempt for the summit was possible. The weather was calm and clear. We left Campo Argentino at 05:10 and were the last to leave camp, but we had plenty of time. A long serpent of lights was moving up the glacier. We ascended the ridge and there we had to do an icy traverse. Olof led and put a couple of snow pickets. By then we had bypassed a couple of persons that turned around and the American (Lisa) and Japanese girl (Nuri). We had no problems with the traverse but noticed already then that the Japanese girl had problems, was tired and was about to cry. Then there was a pitch of 50-55 degree snow/ice that led to the top of the ridge. Olof led and Lee followed without problems. Then there was a short walk on the ridge that led to the upper glacier where we took a break. Lee was not feeling well, cough up hard mucous (that later on was colored with blood though it was not pulmonary oedema), and was mowing slowly on sheer will. On the way up to the summit face we met two of the Swiss who had summited early and were descending.
One of the Americans in front of us had stepped into a crevasse but was alright. Right behind us was the two girls.

At 10 we were below the summit face (200m, 50-55 degrees) and we took a break. On the face was the mother and her two daughters, two Americans and the girls who passed us.  Olof started leading the summit face next to the girls who was moving slow. At the same time the mother with her two daughters abseiled down the face after they summited and right behind came the to Americans who also had summited and down climbed. Olof reached the summit and shortly after so did also Lisa. Then Lee reached the summit after he had been fighting a mean cough and then came Nuri who was crying and gasping franticly. The time was 13:00 and it was getting late. Olof proposed that Lee and the two completely exhausted girls abseil down and then Olof would take out the snow pickets, release the rope and down climb. At 13:30 we started to descend. Two ropes were tied together to make it possible to abseil 100m. Lee and the girls abseiled and Olof released the rope and soloed down.
At 14:00 two abseils had been made and we were standing below the summit face as bad looking clouds was closing in... white out. The girls had two com radios that they used to communicate with with the other Americans and Olof was given one so also Lee and Olof could hear what was going on. We arrived to were we had taken a break on the way up, just before the ridge. There was supposed to be a faster way down there but none of us had seen it so we took the same way that we came up. A worried Scott who did not know what was going on up on the mountain managed to find a com radio and talked to Olof and heard that we had summited and was descending. Lee could not talk since he was about to loose his voice. A lot of hefty conversations and arguments was heard on the com radio. At the steeper section Lee and the girls abseiled and Olof down climbed. Then Lee led the icy traverse and Olof and the girls followed. Nuri started crying again because she was so tired and did not trust her crampons and she used her both axes even though she was being belayed. After the traverse we all tied in to one rope and descended the glacier to Campo Argentino. The time was 18:00 and the sun was setting. We had been climbing for 13h without anything to eat (Olof discovered that he only drank a little bit less than one litre of water during 13h of climbing).
We did not have the strength to descend to the refugee so we stayed yet another night at Campo Argentino, Lees fifth night there and Olof fourth. After a bit of vegetating we managed to cook some food but we were in such a bad shape that we hade to take a little codeine/aspirin to be able to sleep (though we did not sleep much that night).

1st of July 2001
Incredibly tired and worn out we managed to get our things together and departed towards the refugee at 9am. We descended without problems but took the wrong way in the moraine and had to find our way back to the trail. We were in a hurry because at 12 the jeep was leaving for La Paz. We managed to find the trail, but to get to the hut one had to walk on the wall to a water aqueducts. The wall was a feet wide and there was water on one side and a 30feet drop on the other. Not entirely easy to walk on with a heavy backpack when you are very tired.
We arrived at the refugee at 11:40 and met a relieved Scott.
In La Paz that evening Scott and Lee bought us dinner.

"The climb was a lot of fun and it was rewarding to reach the summit with Lee who had fought hard against a bad cough and ascended on pure will. We had a lot of fun discussing climbing and life in general. But it was quite frightening to see a lot of inexperienced climbers going up on the mountain expecting everything to be just a piece of cake. It was just luck that nothing worse happened."

Huayna Potosi (6088m ) with the dam and the Refugio Huayna Potosi.

Photos & Text Copyright © Swedish Apolobamba Expedition 2001

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Huayna Potosi West Face