Posteado por: altitud6000 | agosto 24, 2010

Summitting Sajama at 6,552m!

On August 17, 2010, Altitud6000 set out for a fantastic 4-day expedition to the highset summit in Bolivia – Nevado Sajama at 6, 552 m! With clear blue skies and only a light breeze rather than the howling dusty blustery winds that Sajama is legendary for, we reached Sajama National Park at midday. Our climbers were Robin and Amandine from France, and Stella from France; our Altitud6000 team was Juancho, Sergio, and Cayley.

View of Sajama as we arrive – clear blue skies!

The most popular phrase of the trip was “WOW that’s a big mountain!”

After a quick picnic lunch out of the back of the jeep, we loaded up the mules with our mountain equipment and food, and began the two-hour trek up the valley to the Sajama Base Camp (4,810 m).

View of the Payachatas behind us as we hiked up the valley

First night at the base camp, our hungry bellies feasted on a delicious choclo (corn) soup, and then “asado a la pimienta” – peppered llama meat with rice. We had so much extra llama meat that we were able to make sandwiches for the next day with asado meat instead of ham slices. Good day!

The next day we had a filling breakfast of banana pancakes and peach yogurt, before packing up and departing at 10:00 am for the High Camp.

Hiking over the ridge towards Campo 23 de Marzo

 Passing Campo 23 de Marzo at 5,090 m, we began the steep climb up loose rock and sand, past the Cambio de Pendiente (Change of Slope) at 5,250 m. We stopped for a lunch break just above Cambio de Pendiente where we were sheltered from the wind.

Lunch break at 5,300 m just above Cambio de Pendiente

Continuing up to the High Camp

 We continued up the shale slope to the High Camp, just above the large rock cliffs. We reached the High Camp (5,680 m) within 5 hours, and were grateful that the porters had already set up the tents for us.

Arriving at High Camp!

Other view of the High Camp

After tea and cookies, the clients enjoyed a snooze in their tent, and the staff set about making dinner and preparing for the following day’s summit climb.

Juacho boiling water for dinner... sand in his teeth?

View from the High Camp towards La Paz

After dining on asparagus soup, mashed potatoes, and breaded chicken fillet, we watched a beautiful sunset silhouetted by the twin volcanoes Parinacota and Pomerape. After brushing the dust out of our teeth, we crawled into our sleeping bags and contentedly fell asleep.

Waking up at 1:00 am, we had a quick hydration breakfast and packed up our gear for the summit trip! Heading out along a steep rocky slope, we hiked up and up in the darkness until we reached the first section of ice.

Break time!

After passing the first ice section, we scaled along an exposed, rock ridge still with our crampons on. We passed two sections where we had to take off our *WARM ALTITUD6000 MITTS* to do some rock climbing (with crampons still on!). Finally, we reached the bottom of the glacier and the start of the penitentes.

Stella breaking to pull out her camera... lucky I had mine ready to snap a shot!

Sajama's shadow as the sun rose behind the mountain!

In the middle of the penitentes...

Weaving our way up, over, around and through the penitentes.

Passing through the penitentes seemed endless – it was almost the end of us, as we were all tiring out quickly from having to crawl and climb up penitentes of 1 m. Finally, we reached above the penitentes and followed along the snow ridge up to the big crevasse just below the summit.

Happy to be finally above the penitentes!

Sergio leading Amandine and Robin along the ridge

The last haul... passed three mounds which we were sure would be the summit, only to find more MOUNTAIN ahead!

FINALLY, WE REACHED THE SUMMIT OF 6,552 M! Breathing heavy and a little cold, we were relieved and at the same time very excited to have reached the summit of Bolivia at 11:00 am and after 8 hours of climbing. We all welcomed a good rest at the top and a few photos.

View from the summit of the Payachatas! Check out that crater!

Stella and Cayley sharing the glory on the summit!

Robin reaching the summit

Amandine reaching the summit

Cayley on the summit

Warm and beginning to sunburn, we had to start our descent. Back through the penitentes and over the rocks, we figured it best to remove our crampons and descend on the far south side over the rocks, avoiding the bottom part of the penitentes.

Looking back up the mountain's summit from where we came

Back down over the rocks

After another short rock climb and another ice penitentes section with crampons, we scantered back down to the high camp. Tired and late in the day, our clients still decided they would prefer to continue the descent down to the base camp, to be closer to the thermal springs for the last day. We packed up the gear and tents and hiked back to the base camp in 1.5 hours. After Sergio and Juancho prepared us a great rice & veggie soup and Italian pasta, we were all in need of some serious sleep – but not without taking one last photo of Sajama at sunset!

Sajama at sunset

The fourth and final day, we made our way back down through the valley to where our trusty 4×4 was parked, and drove to the thermal springs. After 3 days of dust and wind and sand, we all eagerly jumped into the natural hot springs.

Robin and Amandine in the hot springs!

Sergio and Juancho passed us some delicious, cool watermelon that we snacked on  while bathing.

Finishing up lunch and watermelon while drying off

Sergio, Cayley, Amandine, Robin, Stella

Congratulations to the whole group for an incredible summit and a rewarding trip! We’re all returning with sunkissed (sunburnt in my case) cheeks, windswept hair, and stronger, bigger lungs. Thanks to everyone for a great 4 days!



  1. Great story. Great photos.

    Editing: Too many “afters”
    Tip: get some metaphors to help paint pictures. Craig Copeland writes mountain guide books and he paints such colorful pictures with his metaphors. google him and I am sure you will find some of his work and it will inspire you.

    Well done!

  2. Wow it looked like a great climb! I am very envious. On August 17 as you started your climb I was having surgery in Cochabamba for a torn Achilles tendon – my climbing plans have been postponed for a few months. I REALLY want to climb Sajama with Juancho, Sergio, and Cayley. Great job with this group! Take care, Brian Steber

  3. Everything was perfect!!!!
    Sjama summit succeed in august 2010 with Amandine!!! Thanks very much to the 6000D team especially to Cayley (pancakes banana were perfect!!), juancho and Sergio for there energy and good mood wich help us to this trip!!!
    Thanks to you i could have done my marriage proposal to Amandine…..


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