Sajama (6542m) – Highest point of Bolivia
6542m! And trust me, this is bloody high…
The season for climbing Sajama has ended a month ago and the conditions were bad.
Penitentes as high as a meter posed very tiring obstacles at altitude and hidden crevasses on the glacier would have made an approach to the otherwise not very technical demanding mountain irresponsible without a guide.
Thus Wil (an Australian climber I found days earlier in La Paz) and I hired transport, equipment and two local guides at one of the numerous mountain outfitters in La Paz.
|With day one lost in the village looking for helping legs for the next days, we had to climb the 1400m from Sajama village (4250m) via the Northwest Ridge to High Camp (5665m) in just one day, missing out on the highly recommended/needed night at Base Camp (4850m) to acclimatise.||After arrival at High Camp (5665m) in the afternoon we pitched tents, prepared our gear and tried to sleep for about 3 hours before launching our summit attempt just after midnight.|
|Zigeiner & Wil happy as Schnitzel!||Bayern on top of Bolivia!|
Zigeiner carefully climbing back down the icy penitentes at around 6500m
We climbed Sajama: village toÂ summit & back to village in under 36 hours, the fastest our guide has climbed it in his 30-year career on this mountain:-)
I can highly recommend our guides:
“Jose Chura” (Cel.: 77591407) and his son “Alfredo” (Cel.: 77744319; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
They did a fantastic job & are as technically trained as Bolivian mountain guides will get.
The village of Sajama (altitude 4250m) is 290km from La Paz and no particular climbing restrictions apply – no permit is needed, but as entering the Sajama National Park, you have to register at the Ranger station in Sajama village.
You also have to pay a fee of about U$4 to enter the park. The rangers (theoretically:-) can arrange anything for you there like transport, mules, guides etc.
At over six and a half thousand meters, weather conditions can be severe. You should be equipped to deal with very low temperatures and high winds, plus localised storms. We had -12.5Â° C (without windchill) on the summit.
And no matter what people tell you, bring a helmet! Just before you reach the glacier high on the Northwest Ridge there is a 3 pitch mixed rock & ice scramble on very loose rock. Get the rope out and climb very carefully one by one. This is the only really dangerous part on the mountain.
Zigeiner and his fight with the Royal Bavarian Flag & the wind on the summit…
My altimeter stats:
|28.10.2009||07:32am||4470||Trailhead to Base Bamp||Start hiking|
|28.10.2009||17:06pm||5850||Northwest Ridge||Acclimatisation climb|
||Start climbing Sajama|
||Packing up camp|
|29.10.2009||17:16pm||4470||Trailhead to Base Camp||Short rest|
|29.10.2009||18:33pm||4250||Sajama Village||Finish hiking|
Sajama is also the place where the highest football match in the world took place:
|The players ascending||And finally playing the match|
It took several attempts to meet the conditions necessary, but, finally in August 2001, on the slightly convex summit of the volcano, they marked the terrain, they installed the goals, and the 23 actors of the game (they of course had a referee), put on their shorts, T-shirts and mandatory crampons to play two 20-minute half time during which they used an unusual number of footballsâ€¦
History does not remember the score or the name of the winning team, the goal of this â€śsummitâ€ť game literally reaching beyond human and sportive performance.
(Photos + info regarding our guides and various Internet sources)
Another story about the initial first attempt to play the match can be found here. It is another frustrating proof of typical Bolivian efficiency…