Bolivia - Illimani Expedition
COVID-19 UPDATE: AAI is open and operating with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following links to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans and cancellation policy. Note that AAI requires proof of vaccination for COVID-19 beginning October 1, 2021.
Illimani base camp. Andrew Wexler
This is a 5-day expedition to climb the highest peak in Bolivia's Cordillera Real. Team members first make the ascents (and enjoy the benefits of the acclimatization accomplished) in Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition.
Nevado Illimani is the highest peak in the Cordillera Real, rising to 21,201 feet. It is a massive mountain with three summits over 20,000 feet and with a profile visible from hundreds of miles out on the altiplano to the west and from far out into the Amazon Basin on the east. Nearly a thousand feet higher than Denali, Illimani offers a serious, high altitude challenge without the continuous hardships of extremely low temperatures. It is noteworthy that because of their thorough acclimatization during Bolivia - La Paz and Remote Bolivia Trek and Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition, participants joining this short expedition have enjoyed a nearly perfect rate of success.
Zero Carbon Footprint Expedition
This expedition has a zero carbon footprint. Through AAI's Climate Initiative, the Institute pays to offset all carbon emissions incurred by the guides and clients on each trip, including emissions from flight, local transportation, electricity in hotels, and fuel burned to cook in the mountains. To learn more about how this works and AAI’s dedication to environmental protection, click here.
Bolivia - Illimani Expedition
Following our ascents in the Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Skills Expedition, we return to La Paz and have a day and a half to prepare for this expedition. We leave the city traveling southeast over very rugged roads to a small settlement where we meet our arriero. With our gear loaded on his animals, we climb gradually higher while enjoying brilliant views of Illimani, and eventually pass through the isolated village where he and his family live. Here Aymara life is very traditional, with thatch-roofed homes constructed of mud brick and stone and villagers busy attending to the soaking, drying, and freezing of their potatoes (in the world's original freeze-drying process). We climb above the village and establish base camp at a small lake at 15,000 feet, where in the evening we enjoy the dependable arrival of a flock of Andean geese that spend the night at the water, and from which we have a beautiful view of sunset over the altiplano.
The next day our arriero returns with members of his family who help us as porters. With them we make a 3000-foot ascent up trails and a rock ridge to reach a snowy bench at 18,000 feet where we establish our high camp. From that camp we get great views into the enormous, steep-walled cirque of Illimani and across Lake Titicaca into Peru. The next morning we begin our ascent of the peak's steep southwest buttress. The route is broken by a series of large crevasses, and we carefully zig zag our way up, using snow bridges and ice ramps where we can to shorten our route. Eventually we climb a 40 to 50-degree glacial face and gain the final ridge to the summit; a gently rising, exposed, and very photogenic finish that provides some of the finest views in the Andes. Always scenic and offering rewardingly varied alpine climbing, this is an exciting expedition on one of South America's greatest peaks.
Bolivia - Illimani Expedition
Prices and Details
$1330 - Part 3 only
Total tuition for all three Bolivia Expedition parts: $5800.
Prices are based on a minimum of 4 people per trip part. Contact the AAI office at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email: [email protected] for pricing on smaller groups.
Max Ratio - 4:1
Capacity - 9
Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions
Inclusions: Land transportation; hotel in La Paz and tents while climbing - all on a shared basis (available on a private basis, subject to availability and at added cost); meals while climbing; admissions to archeological zones; group cooking equipment; group climbing equipment (ropes and rack).
Exclusions: Airfare; personal equipment; meals except while climbing; gratuities to guides; insurance; expenses incurred because of late arrival or early departure; evacuation costs; government and airport taxes; inoculations; excess baggage.
Bolivia - Huayna Potosi Expedition or equivalent experience and acclimatization
Good general physical fitness is required as well as previous experience camping in the backcountry, and experience hiking in the mountains.
Flight arrangements should be scheduled so that you arrive in La Paz on the first scheduled day of the trip. Please schedule your departure so that you leave the day after the last scheduled day of the trip. Please contact our Travel Coordinator, Lisa Grief, if you need assistance with travel arrangements.
Our History in Bolivia
The following is an excerpt from an expedition dispatch dispatch from AAI's July 2006 from the Illimani Expedition of our Bolivia program. Reading AAI guide Jason Martin's reflection on our history in Bolivia underscores the unique nature of this trip and we thought you might enjoy learning more about the experience through his words.
On the summit of Illimani. Andrew Wexler
Jason Martin called in on Wednesday (July 19) after arriving at the base camp for Illimani at 16,000 feet, the team's next objective. The team, now consisting of Jason, Scott, and Mattias, plans on making the ascent to high camp tomorrow, and then going for the summit the day after that (July 21).
Jason reported, "We came from La Paz this morning, which is at about 12,000 feet, and drove in jeeps to the village of Pinaya where our Bolivian staff members live. We had a lot of fun in Pinaya. AAI has been coming through the village for 29 years now, and AAI guides have a long history of becoming padrinos , or godfathers, for the children of the village. I had an adult villager come up to me who asked if he could get in touch with his padrino, who turned out to be a guide who had worked for AAI 20 years ago!
I have become a padrino for a little girl who is about 3 years old. This year, we brought toys for all the kids in the villages - matchbox cars for most, but we also brought a frisbee, balls, and stuffed toys. There is one little boy who we watched play with his matchbox car for three hours. It was fun to hang out with the kids while our local staff got the horses ready for the trip to base camp - we played games with them and they taught us some Aymara (their native language), and we taught them some English.
The Illimani portion of AAI's Bolivian expedition is really a joy because we have been connected to this community for so many years. Besides making friends with the people of Pinaya, I know they appreciate the jobs we bring them. Between the local guides, porters, and cooks that we hire, we are able to contribute significantly to their income.
We're now at base camp at 16,000 feet and experiencing the difference in altitude. We all do feel that it's harder to breathe up here. Tomorrow we'll climb up a long, rocky ridge to gain our high camp, about 2500 feet above us. The route is mostly second class scrambling, but there is definitely some third class terrain. We'll have porters to help us, which will make it much more pleasant. Then the next day we'll go for the summit! I'll be in touch about our progress."