September 18, 2015
This is part of a 5 day/4 night trek with Bolivian Journeys in the Condoriri Mountains outside of La Paz. For a full review of the company and our experience click here.
Day 4 – Laguna Chiar Khota (4620 meters/15,157 ft ) to the Camp at the base of Maria Lloco (4700 meters/ 15,420ft) via a 4950 meter/ 162540 ft. pass, about 6 hours.
Even after the previous day’s snow storm we woke once again to clear skies but they were not to last.
Started with the usual breakfast but sadly no egg.
We left camp at 7:15AM and started the climb up the pass on the opposite side of the lake from Pico Austria.
The track, covered in about 2 and half inches of fresh powder, was just enough to follow Thomas’s footprints and wet enough to keep your toes from thawing.
The clouds were already closing in and by the time we descended the other side of the pass the tops of the peaks were obscured in a thick fog.
We had a choice to climb a second pass, but given the weather conditions we instead headed down the Jallayco Valley, a landscape of golden grasses and lower peaks towards Lake Tuni.
Dark clouds to the west were starting to build with streaks of rain in the distance.
As we skirted around the hills heading southeast, storm clouds were moving in from the southwest. Thunderheads were also building to the north and for a while it looked like the two systems would merge but they never quite did. The wind howled and the thunder roared in the distance but we managed to stay in the sun passing through one valley to the next towards Huayna Potosi.
The last part of the journey followed a dirt road and then a better maintained road to the camp at the base of Maria Lloco.
Consisting of a few adobe buildings the camp has stunning views of Huayna Potosi which remained mostly masked by passing clouds until late in the afternoon.
The wind continued to howl and we pitched the tent using one of the adobe buildings as a wind block.
The tent, absorbing the sun’s rays, was a welcome shelter from the cold wind.
Just before sunset the mountain peaks emerged.
Our last dinner of the trip is a dismal mishmash of what was left, consisting of potato soup base with pasta, rice, tomato and 4 hardboiled eggs for 3 people.
Thomas tells us we will have to carry out our own packs in the morning.
As we head to our tent for the evening we notice lightning in the distant mountains to the north. Thankfully the wind has calmed.