Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beyond Chacaltaya

With a decent forecast, we made another attempt to ski Bolivia.  This time, we went to Chacaltaya, formerly the world's highest ski area at about 17,500'.  Sadly, its glacier has melted so it's no longer actually a ski area:

The weather is looking good as we leave La Paz just after sunrise:

Here is the front side of Chacaltaya:

Huyana Potosi, of course:

And Illimani:

After a tedious, and a little scary, drive, the refugio appears:

These Japanese weather monitors abound:

The world's highest lift shack with the cable tow now nowhere near the ground:

The boiling clouds below will burn off:

We had a slight problem gaining the parking lot:

The former world's highest ski area is mostly devoid of snow although one could find a novelty turn or two:

Roberto sprouts antennae and I dance a jig:

We get our lift tickets for about $2.25:

And take the quad lift:

I spy some goods but the group nixes immediate satisfaction:

We have no idea where we are going or what we might find there.  Time to put the skis on:

A clear path of snow to the ridge:

I wonder what that obvious pointy peak in the Hampaturi is:

Time to go up a bit:

Roberto looks for our first line:

Here it is:

The line below the initial steep headwall:

And the runout to a mining road, visible in the enlarged version, 1,000' below:

Roberto points out . . .

Tiquimani.  The obvious steep snowy dihedral on the left is my main climbing goal this fall (spring to you in the northern hemisphere):

I meet Alex and Roberto at the end of the first run:

We take this mining road:

Past these ancient (or not) mine works:

Roberto poses by the one and only Bolivian igloo:

We go up to the col:

Thanks to Alex, we take a Swiss chocolate break:

Savoring the taste with Alex:

Here is our second line:

And here is how we have to attain the ridge to get back to Chacaltaya, eventually:

Another view of the second line on the left skyline:

Roberto points the way:

Alex shows how steep the hump was:

Roberto shares his feelings:

So I let him lead the way:

Almost back to the ridge:

Yet another view of our second line on the sun/shadow divide:

Alex and an Andean lake:

Our first line is where the snow connects, sort of:

Looking back at Huyana Potosi:

Roberto on another fine snowfield:

A technical but short section of the ridge traverse:

The Charquini glacier looking better than when Roberto and I skied it a few weeks ago in white out conditions:

Trying to bring it home but more climbing fun awaits:

And here's another view of our second descent of the day.  At this point, we are starting to feel like we are racing the deteriorating conditions to the car: 

Alex reminds me of Munch's The Scream:

One last shot of the top part of our second desecnt:

Sajama, the highest point in Bolivia in the background with El Alto in the middle ground:

Wishing you were here on the dark side of the moon, or something like that:

The east side of the Hampaturi group:

The west side of the Hampaturi:

The gringo at rest:

Wow, that's a lot of work.  We do it all for the sandwiches, of course:

And the hot llamas, naturally:

And maybe to make the cervezas mejor:

And the chicas dig it, too:

Chica photo by AnnaMaria.