29 May 12. We met up at 1900 outside our 2* Hotel Sajama and hailed multiple taxi’s at 10 Boliviano’s per vehicle (£1= 10 B$) to ferry us down to a fabulous restaurant called La Comedie in central La Paz (Soppacacci). The Argentinian beef steaks with a choice of pepper, butter or roquefort sauce were devoured by the hungry team and washed down with carrafes of very palatable Bolivian wine. After the 180 B$ meal most took a taxi home to prep their kit for the treck which began the next morning. Alastair Nicol , Mike Mc Erlain , Rob Norris and Will Buxton struggled to find a taxi so ended upheaded in Mongo’s nightclub/ bar, the haunt of the young, professional Bolivian crowd who dance the night away to South American Salsa and Regetton hits. 3 Mojito’s later we were in the back of a taxi speeding across the city back to our hotel.
The next day we all sat in the bus at 0800 ready for the trecking to begin. Mark Howley, the day before, had mistakenly expressed a desire to (for the purpose of base camp photos) write onto his buttocks “Hola Chicos”. For his poor Hispanic gender differentiation he was awarded “the hat” a multi coloured ditinctly unfashionable cap which was purchaced from an extremely touristy stall.
The group were well acclimatised with low Lake Louise and AMS (C) scores. Our observations had also shown some improvement with lower BP’s and heart rates and higher oxygen saturations. After a 3 hour drive, half of it down a dirt road, we arrived at 4200m and set off up a trail to a peak of 4600m. There were stunning views of Lake Titicaka behind us and the Cordeillera Real Oriental range towering ahead of us. We had a perfect view of Chachacomani, one of the mountains we hope to summit. We also glimpsed other peaks, some of which are unclimbed including Cola Juncko Huyo and Pica la Calzada and Pico Viluyos. The weather was perfect, hardly a cloud in the sky. As is to be expected, some members of the group found the altitude taxing. We all arrived safely and well, in staggered groups of 4, at base camp and immediately had observations, blood tests and an ECHO. That evening after a delicious rice and chicken supper cooked by our porters, we went to bed at around 2000 hrs for our first nights sleep beneath the incredibly bright southern stars of the Bolivian Andean Altiplane.