Steve's Adventures in South America
I bought a one-way ticket to Venezuela and I'm not coming back until my tube of toothpaste runs out...

Huayna Potosí, Base Camp

Our Frozen Cardboard Tent

Having become more used to the intricacies of my sleeping bag I sleep much better. Still it must have been much colder last night because the fly sheet was frozen solid. You couldn't roll it back, it had to be folded back like cardboard! After getting up I waited patiently for the first rays of sunshine to appear over Huayna Potosí - instant warmth! Then bizarrely this boy appears out of nowhere asking for 10 Bs camp site fee!? The fee is fine, I just wanted to know where the hell he came from?

Cordillera Real Mountain Range

I stashed some coca leaves upon my person and chewed them on the way up the pass, back over 5,000m again. On the way down the other side I began to feel a little queasy so when I stopped to iodine more water I spit the leaves out. Further on I spot a building at the top of a hill. "Is that the base camp?" I enquire hopefully. "Yes, but there are two. We go to the second one." "Bloody typical," I muse.


We walk around a large reservoir under the watchful eye of Huayna Potosí to some buildings used by the nearby Hydroelectric station. They kindly let us camp behind them. No toilets or long drops, you just hike up the hill and find some out-of-sight rocks. It's lunch time, 4,700 m, and I'm to rest here for the day so I go walkabout. The reservoir is a dam at the top of a huge drop off into the Zongo valley. It is hugely impressive, like Wow!

Flimsy Fence on the Dam

There is a red metal fence running along the edge of reservoir and the huge drop next to it. I was a little confused by the fact the fence running along the drop was a lot more flimsier than the one running along the water!? I hole myself up, out of the wind, on the side of the mountain overlooking the hydroelectric station for a few hours and update my journal.

Looking Out Over the Zongo Valley

On my return, the camp has been joined by 2 girls. Katrina, a bulky, stereotypical looking East German girl who's here to experience the pain and discomfort of altitude. And Shannon, a cute little Irish surfer girl, who's besotted with her absent boyfriend. She's here because some of her friends climbed Huayna Potosí a few years ago and she's up for the challenge. Like me they each have their own guide and it looks like we'll climb up together. Eliseo joined one of the other guides in his tent leaving me to myself.

Sunset :: Time To Get Cold Again

Looking up at Huayna Potosí we can see the High Camp that we'll climb to tomorrow morning and from there the tracks leading up high in the snow'n'ice. The only water available at the High Camp is from what ever snow they collect and boil so we fill up what we can now. I take 4 litres. Foolishly I didn't check a "Hot Water Bottle" that a guide filled before chucking it in my sleeping bag along with some clothes. It leaked. Being a down sleeping bag, which doesn't dry well, and knowing how the temperature would soon plummet I was very concerned. Especially as my night clothes also got wet. Ulp! But fear not, an hour with a super absorbent pack towel and hot water bottles dried most of it up! Phew! Bed again for 19:30.

Posted by Steve Eynon