Time: 3 Days
Cost: $120 (850 Bs)
Level of Danger: High
We were higher than a kite…
To start, I would like to define myself as a relatively fit individual. From time to time I will do a pushup or two, jump the jacks or go for a bike ride. As far as skinny dudes in their early 20’s go, I’m pretty average. Which, would suggest that climbing up some steep hills for a couple of days wouldn’t be that insane of a challenge.
Though Huayna Potosi is considered one of the easier 6000 meter treks in the world, its still a 6000m trek. This 3 day hike up the side of a mountain was one of the most physically, and mentally challenging things I have ever done. That said, geting to the top was also one of the most satisfying things I’ve done so far in South America. With that in mind, here are some fun facts about what life is like at 6000 meters.
- There is less than half the breathable air at 6000 meters when compared to sea level
- Wind Instruments don’t work up there
- It’s effin cold
- Your legs decide to stop working after 6 hours walking of at a 60 degree slope
- Life doesn’t exist up there…because why would anything want to live there?
- It will be one of the most beautiful things you see.
These are all facts confirmed by an encyclopedia I found in La Paz, Bolivia that was destroyed immediately after I read it. Don’t try to look for it, you wont find it.
But, in case you would like to confirm them all for yourself, here’s how to climb a 6088 meter mountain.
How to Climb Huayna Potosi
You Will Need
- To be Acclimatized to La Paz Bolivia*
- Warm Clothes/Boots
- An Ice Pick
- A Guide
- Legs of Steel
- Coca Based Stuff (optional)
- To be Slightly Insane
Mental Vs. Physical
Through my experience with the three day trek you will encounter two main challenges that have the potential to prevent you from reaching the peak.
The first being: Acclimatization*.
“is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a gradual change in its environment (such as a change in temperature, humidity, photoperiod, or pH), allowing it to maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions.”
Acclimatization is all about pacing yourself, and giving your body time to adjust to the new and extreme conditions you have put yourself in. It doesn’t matter if your are Usain Bolt, Batman or Chuck MOTHA LOV’IN Norris, if you don’t take the time to let your body catch up with the altitude, you’re going to be heading back due to a massive headache, puking or whatever combination of unpleasant experiences you can imagine.
So my suggestion to you would be to pace yourself, take altitude pills before leaving and chew on some coca leaves. If you do this, you should be muy, muy bien.
The second: Is the challenge you will face Mentally.
Though I would like to say that I am an incredibly fit super human that was only able to get to the top of Huayna Potosi due to my physical prowess, I won’t. Because its far from the truth. If you are in relatively decent shape, you will be able to get to the top…but only if you want it bad enough.
During the trek, I can remember at least three times when I felt like throw’in in the towel, head’in home and watching an episode or two or Friends. Doubts surfaced, lactose acid built up, and the head was pounding. But, due to my desire to get to the top, to see the world from 6088m and play Wiggle ft. Snoop Dogg to the mountain gods… I was able to push through.
So if I have could have one suggestion to you before heading out on this trip, find a good reason as to why you want to get to the top, and stick to it. It’ll make a world of difference.
What Did I Learn?
Wind instruments and 6000 meters of air do not mix. Though I am obviously not a professional recordists (if that’s even a thing), I guarantee that if you try to make music with anything involving moving air though a tube, you’re gonna have a hard time.
As well, from a logical, survival based perspective, climbing a mountain makes zero sense. Why the hell would you want to spend all that time and energy, put yourself in danger and reduce your chances of passing on genes just in order to walk up the side of a massive hill?
BECAUSE, THAT’S WHY!
My theory, is that because all of our basic needs are met, and we no longer have to worry about basic survival, our current challenge is more of a spiritual one. In order to feel alive, we need to feel physically challenged…we need to feel close to death and create our own survival situations.
The desire and need for illogical challenge is a way of substituting our previous need to survive.
Though I’m sure there are many other ways to explain this phenomenon, it seems to me that humans have an innate need to create abstract and nonsensical challenges for themselves for no reason other than to feel alive. That…or I may still be feeling the effects of the altitude.
Anyways, thanks for reading and we’ll talk next week