Friday, November 18, 2011

Around La Paz, Bolivia (November 1 - 11, 2011)

In La Paz we met up with Arnaud Lavelaye, last seen in Cusco, and together we formed a plan to climb Huayna Potosí, famous towering peak above La Paz.  For this climb we went with an agency, mostly for the great deal they offered: $100 includes all food, gear, transport, night in refuge, and guide service.  Probably some of the cheapest mountaineering on the planet.

we had the fortune to be in the same climbing group as three Spanish folks.  Pictured here are Ines (Zaragoza), Marta (Madrid), Xavi (Sevilla), Tom, Jeff and Arnaud. (photo: Ines )

approaching Huayna Potosí we had rain and foreboding weather (photo: Ines )

we started up in light snowfall

Tom chewing coca leaves, proven medicine for altitude sickness, hunger, and lots of other things (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

we moved up the right side of this glacier

the sky started clearing as we got nearer to the refuge

sublime scenery (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

(photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

a great group chilling in the refuge

Xavi and Tom trying to rest (photo: Ines )

gull seen on slopes of Huayna Potosí, no doubt due to the proximity of Lake Titicaca (photo: Ines )

... dusk scenes from the refuge area...
Marta clearly elated at the gorgeous weather and landscapes

after a nearly sleepless night at 5200m in the refuge, our team started up the mountain at 2:30 AM or so.  Jeff with our guide, Renato. (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Arnaud and Jeff at daybreak, somewhere around 5700m 

dawn views with several climbers coming up below

sunrise (photo: Ines )

spectacular colors during sunrise (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Renato and Jeff nearing the final push (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

looking down from the knife-edge summit ridge (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Renato and Jeff on the knife edge, the drop to the right steep and thousands of meters long (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

view from the summit (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Tom and his rope team several meters from the summit

we all made it up.  The summit of Huayna Potosí at 6088m. (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

(photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

breathtaking summit ridge of Huayna Potosí, looming in the background is Illimani (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Tom at the summit of his first major climb.  This is also Jeff's first time over 6000m.

the following link provides an amazing short video from the summit, by Arnaud:

starting down the knife edge (photo: Ines )

looking into a striking icicled crevasse (photo: Ines)

Jeff jumping across this crevasse (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

sublime descent with perfect weather (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

Dalí-like glacier landscapes (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

stunning (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

our rope team descending: Arnaud, Jeff, and Renato (photo: Arnaud de Lavelaye)

... Xavi was so tired he descended with his pants falling down, and Marta collapsed over her soup back at the refuge... (photos Ines )

back in La Paz, we stayed at the Casa de Ciclistas, run by a Swiss/Bolivian couple.  

Near the Plaza del Estudiante, we took advantage of the great ambience to busk:

... this session featured an interview by La Paz's main TV station...

... these are stillborn llamas, seen hanging in doorways and shop stalls in La Paz's Mercado de Brujo.  Apparently, the llamas are used to bless any number of things, from new houses to weddings and funerals...

A banner evening.  With the help of Brian Reale, friend of Jeff's from university last seen in Colombia in May, we arranged a 90-minute performance in the Adventure Brew Hostel's Sky Bar in La Paz.  

The Sky Bar.  Our first indoor venue since Open Mic in El Tunco, El Salvador... 11 months earlier.

 Luckily, the Sky Bar has great acoustics.  We played folk, blues, and bluegrass, and several originals.

 our percussion session: Sonja, Brian, and Tom (also doubling on ukelele)

Spoke-N-Strings Band

Craig was on fire this evening, and had some memorable solos on mandolin and guitar

we didn't get paid, but we received dinner, several jugs of microbrew, and the tips jar.  Great fun, great ambience.  Playing in bars to be continued in Argentina...


BU said...

Rock on!

Katy said...


Superfatou said...

Awesome! It's been inspiring following your trip every few months. Jeff, I live in Brazil if you all are headed this way. -Melanie "Fatou Patassi"

Harriet and Neil Pike said...

Hi guys,
I've been following your blog since we met up with Cass in London a few months ago and he told me about you. Loving the cycling and climbing you're doing - keep up the good work! And the busking too - it looks class.
Enjoy the rest of Bolivia