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The Climbing Club • View topic - Bolivia 2011

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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 Post subject: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:22 pm 
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Alpine Slogger
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:01 am
Posts: 826
Location: Too far from a summit
This is to start a thread about Jim, Craig, and my trip to Bolivia. Several people have asked about it, and I have some stories I'd like to tell. What this is not, is a trip report of climbing. A travel narrative may be more appropriate, filled with some humor, disappointment, illness, and a bit of unexpected adventure.

"Bolivia or Bust!"

I wrote that in my gchat status a couple days before I left for Bolivia. I was drunk with excitement, having planned and prepped for the trip for months, nervous that I hadn't done enough actual climbing for the more technical routes we had on the list, and very much interested in how my body would cope with the high elevation. It was going to be cool to cold, but sunny. We had all the gear, plenty of time for acclimatization. We were going on a grand adventure, with two solid friends and partners. I was well prepped at work, had made all the arrangements, and desperately needed to unplug.

What I never expected was that we would get "Bolivia and Bust."

We were hit with a terrible string of weather, during the dry stable portion of the Bolivian climbing season. After beautiful days acclimatizing in La Paz we headed into the mountains only to have the weather move in, and spend 3 out of our 4 days out getting snowed on, winds, and low visibility. 7 days after leaving Seattle, I hiked up to the top of a trekking peak, Pico Austria, and felt somewhat elated at reaching 5360M. I didn't know that this would be the highest I would get for the entire trip, the only peak I would stand on top of. I would in the end only spend 8 days of my 26 in the Bolivian Andes, with an an additional 2 on shorter day trips out of the city. I spent less than an hour roped up.

The rest of our time we spent confused about the weather, disappointed in not being able to climb. We read, watched dozens of english movies, and got ill. We tried to find new places to eat, and I had to go to the hospital to deal with a relapse of illness due to bad dosing on the part of my travel clinic. We shivered under the covers of our beds, and tried to reconcile the reality on the ground with the lofty expectations we brought with us.

That being said, I've also seen and hiked in the Andes in the shadows of 6000M peaks. I've seen llamas and alpacas up close and on my plate. We toured pre-Incan ruins, mountain biked from the high mountain passes to the jungle, and zip-lined 300M over the valley floor at 85kph. I carried a 50+ lbs pack at 5000M, and completely left my comfort zone to visit a developing country where I didn't speak the language. We laughed a lot. I completely unplugged from work, and was reminded how lucky I am in so many aspects of my life.

It would be easy to get angry, or depressed about this trip. We didn't climb. I had to pull a lot of strings to get a full month off, work hard to prep at work and at home. It wasn't cheap, and it took me away from my wife, and undoubtedly caused stress and worry for my family. But I can't find it in me. I've come back with stories and some photos, which I will remember and tell for the rest of my life. I may not go back to Bolivia, or even South America soon, but it hasn't taken my need for travel and adventure away, and like the poorest trips in the Cascades, I'm already planning the next trip.

Beyond this introspective post, I plan on posting some photos and maybe some short bits from the trip, mostly of the eye-candy, or lighthearted variety, and hopefully Craig and Jim will add their voice to the story.

Cheers, and its good to be home.

Doehle

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"Where the clouds can go men can go; but they must be hardy men."
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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:22 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:28 pm
Posts: 279
Sometimes I feel like the hardest part about climbing mountains, is not being able to climb mountains. I'm sad I won't be able to read TRs of some epic climbs, but it sounds like you had a lot of good times anyway.

Welcome home!


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:28 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 6:11 pm
Posts: 137
Welcome back! Lots of successful climbs or not, I'm looking forward to hear more about your trip! I hope you had a good time nevertheless.


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:41 am 
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Longshanks
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:47 pm
Posts: 927
Location: Denver
It sounds like a cruel disappointment , but it does sound like you guys made the best of it. I hope you were able to find some :drink: to drown your sorrows!


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:03 pm 
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Burly Skinner
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Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:52 pm
Posts: 183
Sorry to hear about the lack of climbing, but looking forward to seeing eye-candy involving Jim and Craig. Or perhaps the eye-candy was just in reference to the mountains...?


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:17 pm 
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giving spoon
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Daddy

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Somehow I find Nature knows how best to push the lazy human form from its comfortable life and knock him face down into the living of it.
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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:15 pm 
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Alpine Slogger
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:01 am
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Location: Too far from a summit
Some pics:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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"Where the clouds can go men can go; but they must be hardy men."
- Andreas Maurer


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:16 am 
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The 11th Essential
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:28 am
Posts: 612
Location: Boulder, CO
Beautiful. From the looks of the landscapes captured in those photos, the trip couldn't have been that bad. :D
Relieved to hear you all made it back safe, albeit a little down on your climbing luck. I'll be in Seattle by next week, and hope to hear some stories in trireo, be they of mountains in a distant place or of adventures in clumsy Spanish in a small town.


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:58 pm 
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Mountain Rhombus
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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:32 am
Posts: 584
Location: Near the taco truck
I finally got through some of my pictures. Here are a few highlights from the first portion of our trip....more to come.

La Paz
Image

San Francisco Cathedral
Image

Condoriri Peaks at Laguna Chiar Khota
Image

Brian on the way to Pico Austria
Image

Some exciting weather on Cabeza de Condor
Image

We all made it to the top of Pico Austria (5,350m) but didn't get to attempt anything else.



Next installment: Some time in La Paz and Huayna Potosi attempt

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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:44 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:23 pm
Posts: 33
Beautiful photos. Sounds like an amazing adventure you guys. Reading Brian's "introspective" post was quite interesting - stepping outside your comfort zone with great expectations & ambition only to discover that there are things in life outside your control - the journey itself leaves a greater impression than the end goal.

Very nice photos indeed. The night shot of Condoriri is very cool.


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:06 am 
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Mountain Rhombus
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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:32 am
Posts: 584
Location: Near the taco truck
Here are the rest of my Bolivia photos:

Huayna Potosi was the only big peak we attempted to climb, unfortunately the wind had other ideas

We took a tour of some ruins west of La Paz

We had a wonderful day biking down over 11,000' except for Brian taking a little spill

I had to try every Bolivian beer available....they mostly left something to be desired


A few highlights:

Huayna Potosi. The summit is on the right. We made it to the rock shoulder on the right of it.
Image

Huayna Potosi Sunrise
Image

Tiwanaku
Image

Mountains near the beginning of our ride
Image

Into the jungle
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Bolivia 2011
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:37 pm 
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Duchess of Bearington
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Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 7:44 am
Posts: 199
Location: closer to josh, kris, and mel than craig
I'm bummed you guys didn't get to climb tons, but I'm glad to hear that it was still an enjoyable trip. It sounds like you guys made the most of it, and I'm glad to have you all back!


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