Our climbing of three peaks in Bolivia is underway. I arrived early, as in 1:30 am Thursday morning, to El Alto at the world’s highest commercial airport at 13,175’/4061m and was promptly met by the Mountain Madness team and liaison. We made our way to our great hotel in La Paz where I’ve been adjusting to the altitude of 11,607’/3550m for the last couple for days.
Today, Sunday, July 14 along with Mountain Madness guides Gaspar Navarrete, and Paul Guerra we took a walking tour of the city including the market and the Witches Market where you can buy all things dealing with spells including potions, dried frogs, medicinal plants like retama and armadillos used in Bolivian rituals. The most stricking, and disturbing in my opinion, are the dried llama fetuses. They are taken when llama is killed for food and was unknown to be pregnant. The fetuses are buried under the foundations of many Bolivian houses as a sacred offering to the goddess Pachamama.
Something a bit less dramatic was the market. Similar to most market around the world like in Ecuador, Moshi or Namache Bazzar, it is a feast for the eye with all sorts of native fruit, vegetables, clothing, hand-woven accessories and more. Of course, its often the people that make the experience. Here are a few scenes from today. Click to enter the slideshow.
One of the mountains we will be climbing is Illimani at 6,438 m – 21,122 ft which is constantly overlooking La Paz Bolivia with its famous gondolas.
Another cultural experience we had was a visit to the “Teatro del Charango” where multiple acts entertained the audience with their talent, humor and creativity. They play every Saturday night. The charango is a small Andean stringed instrument of the lute family, which probably originated in the Quechua and Aymara populations in post-Colombian times. It was traditionally made with the shell from the back of an armadillo but now is made of wood. I picked one up in the market and tried to play with zero success! This is short example from the show:
The First Climb: Pequeno Alpamayo
Standing at 17,749 ft / 5,410 m, Pequeño Alpamayo, or Little Alpamayo is located at the Condoriri Group in La Coordillera Blanca in Bolivia. It is a pyramid of snow, with the standard route being about 55 degrees, snow, nice in the morning, but sticky later in the day. It was first climbed in August 1962 by South Africans Irene and Keith Whitelock. We will take the West Ridge route. We are hopping to summit on Friday, July 19, 2019.
Then we are back in La Paz for a day then off to the next peak, Huayna Potisi.
Alzheimer’s Fundraising Opportunity
Please don’t forget the new fundraising concept for this time. For this Bolivian expedition, I want am offering to speak at any event in any mainland US City as long as the organizers (individual, group, organization, company, etc.) will guarantee that a minimum of $5,000 will be donated directly to a research-oriented Alzheimer’s non-profit. I am coving all of my own expenses.
I’ll update the bids on my blog throughout July and announce the winner on August 1, 2019.
Memories are Everything