We travelled non stop to La Paz from Machu Picchu. After a train journey, 2 taxi rides & a bus later we arrived in the highest city in the world - very tired!! On the same day we booked a five day treck which would start the next morning, allowing us little time to catch up on sleep. Me & Luke opted to attempt to climb Huayna Potosi (6088m) - one of the Mountains in the Cordillera Real Range that overlooks the city. Marie decided she had no desire to climb a mountain & so chose to meet us on the second day to start the Choro treck.
So me & Luke got kitted out in our mountaineering geer & headed on up to the high camp. Luke got a hard deal as he had to carry the tent & a lot of the equipment (sadly I only had a small bag). We struggled up to the camp as the altitude made it very hard to catch our breath. Eventually we made it & set up our tent in the sun, ready to get an early night as the climb to the summit was to start at 1am. Unfortunately our tent did not stay up long as the winds picked up & blew it (& us in it) over. We tried to save it & attempted to move to a more sheltered spot but failed to find anywhere safe enough to pitch up. we were soon joined by our guide whose tent had also collapsed. By this time it was dark & very cold. We eventually managed to take shelter on a very exposed spot under a make shift tent - all three of us cramped into a tiny space with lightning & gale force winds surrounding us!!! Needless to say when midnight came Mario our guide informed us (with hand movements as he spoke no English) that we were likely to get blown off the mountain if we attempted to climb to the summit. I had already decided there was no way I was getting out of my sleeping bag as had no motivation to climb 6 hrs up a glacier in the freezing cold, wind & dark having had no sleep.
As the sun started to rise Mario told us to get up as we could begin our ascent. After attempting to drink coco tea & eat our frozen bread breakfast in the wind, we put on our crampons & started our tortourous climb. It was sooooo painful as the glacier was very steep & we had to smash our crampons & pick axe into the ice at every step to stop ourselves from slipping. The air was also very thin so the two of us felt extremely unfit having to stop every 5 meters or so. We climbed for 2 hours before Mario informed us we had run out of time & had to turn back as the summit was another 4hrs away. He had obviously told us this at the start but because we spoke so little spanish we didn't realise this - duh!!! So we slomped back to the high camp and then another 2hrs down the rocky face of the mountain to meet Marie at the base camp.
After a half a day of rest at the base of Huayna Potosi we started our 70km journey with our new guide Benancio. The Choro trek took 3 days and mainly followed the Bolivian part of the Inca trail. On the 1st day we climbed up to a high point of approx 4500m with amazing views across the mountains. We then clambered right down into the valley, walking 9 hours a day and eventually desecending into lush mountain forsets. We camped the 1st night in a village & the second on a lowland mountainside. Again Luke had to carry the tent & being the determined guy he is refused to let me & Marie carry more weight. We soon got used to life without a toilet although did manage to get a shower in the form of a trickling stream passing through a plastic bottle end (bearing all to a mountainside really makes you feel at one with nature!!) After a very scary but brief fainting incident by Marie we eventually made it to Choro and the treks end well BEHIND schedule even with our ever patient guides attempts at getting us to walk faster.
We got a 4x4 to the nearest town of Coroico where the bus to La Paz would leave from. Unfortunately to get back to La Paz the only route is via what is know as Death Road or more pleasantly put as the ''The World's most dangerous road''. In the dark this was a rather traumatic experience. There was very littly passing room and when traffic was coming the other way neither driver wanted to pass on the cliff side. Each time it took ages to argue over who would go which way. We had to get out of the bus twice as the locals would start screaming as the bus reversed towards the cliff edge in the dark. It was hard to believe the bus drivers had to go though this every day. We eventually got back to La Paz late at night, tired but luckily still alive and crawled into our comfy beds at Hostal Gloria with our ensuit toilet - what luxury...