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Condoriri Massif Climb - Climbing Cordillera Real - Bolivia

The Condoriri Massif consists of a cluster of 13 beautiful peaks, all above the 5000m (16,400ft) mark. Climbers have their pick of snow-capped peaks ranging from 5100 - 5648 m. The mountain range’s breathtaking scenery, along with the variety of climbing skills/techniques each summit requires, make it a popular playground for climbers to romp around in. It is possible to spend days here tackling multiple peaks, alternating between ascents, descents and periods of rest.

The “head” honcho here is literally a head, called the Cabeza del Condor (Condor’s Head). Known as the Matterhorn of Bolivia due to its impressive and distinctive shape, this summit is flanked by twin winglike peaks called Las Alas (Wings). The three peaks form the majestic image of a condor, wings outstretched, preparing for takeoff (hence the name). Although beautiful and rewarding, this is a tough climb and should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers. Those with less alpine experience can still enjoy the mountain range by ascending the popular Pequeno Alpamayo (5370m) or Illusion (5330m). The best time to climb is June through September, when weather conditions are more stable.

There are various routes for Ala Izquierda (5532m, 18149ft), Cabeza del Condor (5648m, 18530ft) and Ala Derecha (5482m, 17,985 ft). The central peak (Cabeza del Condor) is the most popular, but its sharply exposed ridge can be dangerous. There are a variety of other routes besides the ridge route.

 

Getting To and Away From Condoriri Massif

There is no public transport to Condoriri. From La Paz, you can arrange a private vehicle or 4WD to get to the starting point, located at the dam at Laguna Tuni ($60-80, about two hours from La Paz).

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also trek the 24km from Milluni to the Laguna Tuni dam on the road to Zongo Pass.

 

A locked gate prevents cars from going pass the dam. From this point you will have to walk. From Laguna, follow the rough path that circles around the lake south, then continue up a drainage heading north. At this point you should be able to see Cabeza del Condor and the Wings (Las Alas).

If you want mules or llamas to help carry your things,  locals in the tiny town of Tuni rent for around $7 per day for mules, and slightly cheaper for llamas (since they carry less).

 

Condorir Massif Base Camp

Follow the paths on the right side of the valley until you reach a large lake, then continue along the right side of the lake. You’ll reach base camp about three hours from Laguna Tuni. The base camp is situated along the shores of the idyllic and tranquil Laguna Chiar Khota (4700m). The camp is basic, but has toilets, clean water and offers camping for about $2 per night.

 

Cabeza del Condor Climb

Note: This is a rough outline of the climb but should not be used as an official climbing guide. For detailed route explanations, please refer to the resources listed in the Cordillera Real Overview.

 

From base camp, you should leave around 8am for your ascent. Follow the northward valley, passing through boulders and up the slope of a moraine (stones and boulders deposited by a glacier).  Stay left here as you descend slightly to arrive at a flat part of the glacier, just above the steep crevasses. It should take around 90 minutes to get to this point.

From here you will need to rope up and put on crampons. Go left across the glacier to reach the col (lowest point of the ridge). Be cautious and avoid the crevasses. Climb to the right to the summit of Tarija, then drop down a scree and rock slope before joining up with the glacier again on the other side. At this point you can either climb directly up the ridge or follow a path to the left that later cuts right and goes up to the summit. The ridge is very exposed, so be very careful if you take the ridge route.

Climbing



Here are other activities in and around Cordillera Real that may be of interest: Illimani , Ancohuma Climb, Cordillera Real Climbing and Huayna PotosĂ­ Climb.





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