Nevado Sajama is the highest mountain in Bolivia. It is an isolated, symmetrical volcanic cone, towering to the sky close to the Chili border. The mountain makes part of a system of easy climbable volcanoes. But this lady is a greater challenge, with her high altitude and steep ice cover.
The mountain is easy to reach, thanks to a new road. This is in a strong contrast with the first ascents. In those days, it was a five day journey on the back of a mule crossing a boring, dead Altiplano, under a cold sun en tortured by an icy gale, according to Josef Prem, who was the first to climb the summit of Sajama in 1939. The gales are infamous on Sajama, especially in high camps, which are really exposed. Because we want to acclimatise on this mountain, we have chosen for the normal route (=the easiest route).
There is a chance that we have to climb trough a ‘nieve penitentes’ field. These are thin needles of ice, that can be more than a meter high. These icy needles are shaped by the exposure to sun and wind. Thus, the nature will decide whether we will encounter these fields or not. The question is whether we want to see these fields, because they are really hard to cross.
We planned to follow the northwest ridge route, the normal route. This route is the ridge on the left side of the photo below. There are camps on 4,700, 5,500 and 6,000 meter.