Illampu (6368m) is the northern most mountain in the Cordillera Real, and according to indigenous folklore is considered the King of the mountains. Despite being 6356m, which is 200m shorter than Sajama (6549m) the tallest peak in Bolivia, Illampu is one of the hardest climbs – both physically and technically – both in the Sorata massif and in Bolivia. This climb offers steep snow climbing, and spectacular views of the Cordillera Real, Lago Titicaca (3810m), Cordillera Apolobamba and to the east, the dark green mass of the Amazon Basin spreading out to the horizon .
Our first day is the drive to Sorata. As we head out of La Paz into the city of Al alto with have great views of La Paz city and the surrounding mountains.
Later we cross the Altiplano were we pass most of the Cordillera Real, it’s rugged peaks breaking the horizon. After 2 hours we reach a pass which takes us down into the valley of Sorata.
Along the way we stop for photos of Illampu, one of the most impressive peaks in the Cordillera Real. Once in Sorata we notice the warmer cliate due to the lower altitude, and take advantage by relaxing in the plaza with a cool beer. 3 – 4 hours driving (LD) Hostel.
Today we head to the base camp. First we drive up the new road to Lachathiya where we meet the mules to carry our gear up to base camp. We climb up the valley to cross over the pass of Huilakota (4886m), and then descend down the other side to reach the base camp of Illampu.
We still won’t be able to see the mountain as it is hidden behind other peaks. 1 hour driving, 3 – 4 hours walking (BLD) camping.
Porters will carry all equipment and personal gear up to the high camp. We will climb over the old glacier slabs and climb along the valley of the mountain. We will make camp just below the last glacier. 6 – 7 hours (BLD) camping.
This is a very long day and we will need to leave very early in the morning. There will be a 2 hour walk up to the base of the wall, from where we will start to pitch up the wall, climbing on ice up to 60° for 400m.
We then have a further 300m on the ridge until the summit. After a short rest we head back down the same way. 12 – 17 hours (BLD) camping.
In the morning we pack up camp and meet the mules. We head back up to the Huilakota pass. From the pass we have an easy walk back down to Lachathiya.
Here we meet our transport. First we have to drive back to Sorata and then onto La Paz. Drop off at hotel. 2 – 3 hours walking, 4 hours driving (BL) END of SERVICES.