Posts Tagged ‘bolivia’

Final 24 hours in São Paulo. Quite excited, to say the least; just getting final bits and pieces together. A quick visit to Casa de Pedra where we did some wall traversing, slackline and bouldering for an hour or so. Not long but it was nice to see everyone at the gym again and get a little more exercise before we leave. Final packing of the bags – not everything in the rucksacks, but into a couple of large duffle bags (aside from our summit packs which we will use as hand baggage). Our flight to La Paz will last four hours, as we have a change at Santa Cruz. We will arrive in La Paz at 8pm local time.

From – rucksack guide

Everything will of course go into the rucksacks – I have an 85L and Natalia a 75L pack. There are ways which you can pack to make things easier in terms of accessing everything and distributing the load so it’s all nice and balanced. We find that putting the sleeping bag and the foamless sleeping pads makes it easy to get to them through the bottom zipper at night when we camp. Anything else that we might need at night can also go down at the bottom; heavier stuff going into the middle and also close to the spine – this helps keep the centre of gravity close to your body rather than unbalancing you. Food, cooking kit and long term water supplies are good candidates for here. Wrapping lighter weight items around these is a good way to stop things from moving around when you are going, and then everything else that we might need to access quickly (headlamps, med-kits, sunglasses, rain jackets/shells etc) closer to the top where you can get at them.

Ice axes and other long poles can go on the outside.

Plenty of places online which provide advice about packing rucksacks – REI is a good place to start ( as does (, with a good overview of rucksacks and their common features, and how to pack them, and also (very importantly for the larger rucksacks) how to fit them so the weight is transferred over your body properly.

Illimani atrás de La Paz

Semana pré viagem… Hummm! Tanto a fazer e eu e o Ben parecemos dois idosos esquecidos, cada hora vemos que algo está faltando. Serão 28 dias na Bolívia, tudo será uma grande novidade o clima, as cidades, a altitude, a cultura, o esporte, a paisagem, as pessoas, a comida… UFA, tudo. Adoro me sentir desafiada e de aprender coisas novas, e nada como um mês no desconhecido.

Algumas coisas conseguimos nos preparar como o frio, que compramos diversos layers um pra cada tipo de temperatura; quanto ao montanhismo treinamos os nós e tentamos concentrar o treino em força e resistência; quanto a altitude a Dr Isabela explicou a importância de estar hidratado e que lá mais importante do que nunca é seguir a risca a alimentação de 3 em 3 horas e consumir entre 3 a 4 litros de água por dia…

De todos os fatores o que mais me dá medo é a altitude. Quando fomos para Galápagos ficamos 2 dias em Quito – que é quase 1000 metros mais baixa que La Paz – eu fiquei grogue. Cansada, com dor de cabeça forte e falta de apetite. Não sei ao certo quanto tempo levei pra me adaptar porque para ser sincera não deu esse tempo, viajamos para Galápagos no segundo dia de manhã.

Tudo bem que dessa vez temos 7 dias de aclimatação. Depois encontramos com o grupo da MGI.

O roteiro é assim:

Os primeiros dias serão de aclimatação em La Paz mesmo e nas ruínas de Tiwanaca. Seguimos em direção a Copacabana onde aproveitaremos o Lago Titicaca (o lago navegável mais alto do mundo) onde passearemos de barco e caminharemos bastante em volta. Uma vez aclimatados nas partes baixas, iremos para montanhas mais baixas treinar a parte técnica. A primeira montanha será o Condoriri (15200 pés), depois de aclimatados aqui vamos para o pico Pequeno Alpamayo (17,613′), Ilusioncita (16,896′) ou Ilusion, (17,500′) ou até mesmo completar o Condoriri, que seria demais. Se der tudo certo aqui vamos ao nosso primeiro grande objetivo o Huayna Potosi.  Com 6088 metros, parecendo uma grande pirâmide de gelo é a montanha mais frequentada da Bolívia. Ao terminar esse pico terminamos também a primeira fase da viagem. Depois de 14 dias voltamos a La Paz, mas só por um dia. Certeza que dormir numa cama quentinha e tomar um banho quente será um presente.

A Cordilheira Real

Depois seguimos para o Illimani o pico mais alto da Cordilheira Real, com 6462 metros. Esse é o nosso objetivo. Sabemos das dificuldades, sabemos das exigências físicas e como teremos que nos dedicar à parte técnica nas montanhas anteriores. Mas quem acredita sempre alcança, assim diz o ditado e assim queremos que seja…. Quer dizer pelo menos assim dizia Renato Russo.

É agora a ansiedade bate, afinal escrever o roteiro, preparar as malas, comprar as coisas que faltam… Esses preparativos todos só me fazem ter mais e mais vontade de ir logo…

Nesse mês tentaremos mantê-los o mais atualizados possíveis. E vão acompanhando as aventuras do Paulo por aqui, esse mês pra ele também vai ser puxado semana que vêm tem mais uma etapa da competição de endurance dele, 300km. Toda a força pra ele nessa etapa e pra nós lá na Bolívia.

Seeing deaths in any sport is never good, and mountaineering is an activity that sees its fair share of fatalities. Last week has been bad when we look to see how there were four deaths on Mount Everest, near the summit. Happening just before our adventure into the Andes, the timing for us reading about these things isn’t great either in terms of making us nervous.

Photo by Lesley Weber at Alligin, Scotland. Beautiful region; potentially deadly without the right preparation…

Mount Everest might be the highest, but it isn’t the hardest mountain, technically speaking, in the world to climb. Hundreds of people climb it each year. Tamae Watanabe has become the oldest woman to climb the mountain, at 73 years old. Other mountains are much more dangerous – on K2 for example, around 25% of those who have attempted it have perished. But people still get killed climbing Everest, just like they do on lower mountains. The mountains in Scotland are by no means the highest in the world, but people still get killed climbing them. One of my sisters, Lesley and her boyfriend Billy frequently venture into the highlands – they can easily talk about how the conditions in the mountains can change from pleasant to terrifying there…

Things can go wrong, even for the most skilled and experienced mountaineer, no matter which mountain range they are going up.

Up in the mountains, the weather can change in the blink of an eye, and if you find yourself in a blizzard, you can quickly find yourself disoriented. Even with experience you will be in trouble, though with inadequate preparation, you could easily become lost, frostbitten or falling off the edge of an unseen precipice…

After 2,500 metres, the altitude starts taking effect. Though there are times of day and periods when the risks of avalanches are higher than others (fresh, heavy snow is always a high risk, and as the temperatures warm up, so does the likelihood of snow falling), you can always be unlucky to be on the wrong end of one….

Above 5,000 metres and you are reaching the extremes already. Couple this with the physical exertion of mountaineering, and you are taking risks. Going too high too quickly will make things even worse and increases the risks of disaster. Becoming fatigued and arriving too late in the day at the summit will increase risks of exposure to the elements… equipment problems won’t help…

A host of other reasons can contribute towards a tragic end.

Not the best thoughts to have as we start on such an expedition, huh? Maybe not, but at the same time we always need to remember how we need to always be as careful as possible. Huayna Potosi is generally considered one of the “technically easier” mountains, though in spite of this, we will not be taking it lightly in any way; we are there to climb, enjoy the experience but also respect the mountain; we are there to learn and to train for greater challenges ahead, not take unnecessary risks with our lives. Indeed, respecting the mountain and being aware of all of the risks and possibilities is a good way to start minimizing the risks as we are making our ascents.

Illimani – one of our objectives – a tremendous backdrop to the city of La Paz

So yes, less than three days to go till we leave São Paulo! Our excitement is growing – this will be a major first for us. The first time to Bolivia; the first time on a big mountaineering expedition; the first time going over 6,000 metres… feelings of anxiety, excitement, worry… nervousness… all setting in! Have we done enough training to be able to deal with the challenges ahead? How will we cope with the climbing in the snow? Carrying the heavy rucksacks? How will we be able to cope with the altitude (La Paz is around 4,000 metres, and the body starts feeling the effects of altitude at about 2,100 metres)? The amount of oxygen in the air at 5,000 metres is about half what it is at sea-level…

Well, we believe we have done enough and are in good enough shape for this training project (training for a training expedition… sounds strange, doesn’t it..?! but we are taking this all very seriously and everything needs to be trained for!). And what we will be doing over the next few weeks will be exciting. Traversing glaciers; setting out at midnight for summit attempts; climbing some of the most beautiful mountains in the Andes… a lot to learn and a lot to look forward to!

So, here is a basic overview of our itinerary for the month – an itinerary that should allow us good time to provide updates on the site and indeed, we should have plenty of great stories from the expedition!

  • Days 1-3: Settling in to La Paz and acclimitising to the altitude
  • Days 4-6: To Salar de Uyuni and the salt flats
  • Days 7-10: Back to La Paz and hikes at Tiwinaku (one of Bolivia’s most important archaeological sites) and Isla Surique on Lake Titicaca
  • Day 11: To our first base camp near Lake Tuni Condorini (4,500 metres / 15,000 feet)
  • Day 12: Further acclimitisation hiking to 4,875 metres (16,000 feet) at the glacier terminus
  • Day 13: Reviewing skills and preparation for ascent of Ilusion
  • Day 14: Climb over a heavily crevassed glacier and steep snow ridges to the Ilusion peak
  • Day 15: Summit attempt of Pequeno Alpamayo, from where (hopefully!) we should have some fantastic views Huayna Potosi, the first major objective
  • Day 16: Hiking and return to rest at La Paz
  • Day 17: Relaxing in La Paz
  • Day 18: To our Huayna Potosi base camp at 4,785 metres (15,700 feet)
  • Day 19: Climbing all day to high camp at 5,600 metres (18,400 feet)
  • Day 20: Up at midnight for our Huayna Potosi summit attempt, over glaciers, through ice falls and around crevasses for over eight hours to the peak at 6,088 metres (19,974 feet)
  • Day 21: Resting
  • Day 22: To Illimani base camp, near Pinaya village, at 4,420 metres (14,500 feet)
  • Day 23: To Camp I at 5,090 metres (16,700 feet)
  • Day 24: Scrambling over rock to High Camp at 5,600 metres (18,372 feet)
  • Day 25: Summit day on Illimani! Going along crevassed glaciers and slopes of 30-40degrees to the summit ridge and reaching the top at 6,438 metres (21,122 feet) – the highest mountain in the Cordilleira Real and second highest peak in Bolivia! Should be quite a view!
  • Day 26: an optional summit/weather day
  • Day 27: Return to La Paz
  • Day 28: Back to Sao Paulo
  • Day 29: Back to work and back to planning!!

Less than a week to go…

Posted: May 23, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Equipment
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Less than one week to go before we fly to Bolivia and we are just about all ready, equipment-wise. We have all of our base, mid and shell layers as well as down jackets to keep us even warmer in case weather turns against us; balaclavas; beanies; helmets; BD Storm headlamps; trekking poles; Black Diamond Raven ice axes (walking through the New York Metro with the axes was quite an experience in terms of getting some very strange looks from people, including police officers who were probably wondering if they were legal – they are pretty darn big and sharp!); socks; boots…

The clothing is mainly North Face, Deuter, Curtlo and Salomon, with Casa de Pedra base layers; and we have also got Julbo ski goggles and mountaineering sun glasses which look pretty cool…  The technical, largely Black Diamond or Petzl (we also got ourselves Petzl Reverso 4 belay devices which, whilst we probably won’t need to use it in all its functions, will most likely come in useful in the future).

Also, among other points medications are not something that we can afford to leave behind – we will be taking with us a broad spectrum antibiotic in case we get any bugs, Diamox and Decadron (Dexamethasone) for altitude sickness; iodine for water sterilization; and other medicines for stomach problems and nausea. Obviously we are not planning on being sick, but we need to be prepared.

Also, armed with the Canon EOS 7D (probably not something we will take on the summit attempts as it is a bit big and heavy!); a smaller digital camera and Contour HD video camera and a Sony video camera, we should be able to get some good footage in and make something we hope will be pretty special at the end of this journey.

Muita calma que dá tempo

Posted: May 9, 2012 by Natália Almeida in Português
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Controlar a ansiedade e administrar o tempo acredito que seja algo que estamos tentando fazer agora.

Falta menos de 1 mês para a nossa viagem para a Bolívia e ainda temos muito a fazer. O Ben esse final de semana vai para Nova Iorque comprar equipamentos técnicos e as roupas pesadas. Eu vou ficar aqui treinando e aproveitar para ir até Mairiporã deixar com que as mãos milagrosas da minha  madrasta quiroprata resolva essa tensão no meu pescoço. Ainda tenho que achar o comprovante da minha vacina contra Febre Amarela, e reunir o resto de documento que talvez me peçam na entrada e saida de La Paz.

No trabalho também tenho que por muita coisa em ordem, a equipe de edição está passando por um remanejamento e com isso o esquema para cobrir as minhas férias foi desfeito. Agora estou em busca de algum editor de Avid disponível e competente para me cobrir. O que não anda sendo nada fácil, parece que todo mundo ou está freelando ou está trabalhando na correria. A equipe do Polícia 24h também não está na sua melhor fase, diretor de licença, coordenador de conteúdo tendo que fazer 3 funções ao mesmo tempo, a maior parte da equipe em si me parece um tanto estressada e sem ritmo de programa semanal, essa parte do problema eu acredito não conseguir resolver. Mas o mínimo que tenho que fazer é organizar toda a edição e estabelecer prazos limites para o corte e conteúdo.

No quesito gatas a solução também está complicada, precisamos de alguém que tope ficar em casa 1 mês e dar comida e água para a Lillou e Mocha. Nesse caso quem topar ia ter a vantagem de ter um mês inteiro um apê bonitinho com internet, tv a cabo e empregada de graça.

E o último item a ser resolvido da lista são os exames exigidos pela agencia de montanhismo na Boívia que eu devia ter terminado de fazer hoje mas por um erro no sistema do Laboratório tive que remarcar.

Por isso repito para mim toda vez que começo a pensar em tudo isso: RESPIRA, RESPIRA, RESPIRA…

The Yungas Road, or the “Death Road” as it is also fondly called, looks to be one amazingly scary stretch of highway and, after leaving Brazil at Corumbá, we will be taking a slight detour at Santa Cruz de la Sierra in order to take it to La Paz.

I remember one of my brothers after having gone travelling through Bolivia and Peru telling tales of going along this road by bus and that it had been one hair-raising journey with the bus tearing along the highway which has a sheer drop on one side and a vertical climb on the other. I was pretty much captivated by the stories and have since long wanted to travel along it.

The 61 kilometre (43 miles), incredibly narrow (at parts, it is only three metres wide) road passes up over altitudes of  over 4,500 metres, and has been described by the Inter American Development Bank and reported by the BBC some time ago as “The world’s most dangerous road”, as apparently 300 or so people are killed along there each year.

Extreme weather conditions along the high altitudes of the road make it even more treacherous and just looking at images of the road from groups that have travelled along it makes one shiver. Reports from media showing busses crashing along it; landslides reported blocking the path for hours; near-death accidents with cyclists… don’t help too much!

As well as helping us get to grips with higher altitude conditions, it will be an amazing experience to go along it. Fortunately (though perhaps more tiring) we will be going up rather than down (downhill drivers never have rights of way and must go to the outside of the road), so we will try our best to keep to the inside: whilst I am working on my fear of heights and still have quite a lot of time to work on this, I still wouldn’t feel too comfortable riding so close to such a perilous drop!!

The website, from where the photos (thanks Rick!) here were provided, has some great stories and further terrifying images of the road.

Exciting news in moving this project forward in that we have established a partnership with Mountain Guides International – an Alaskan-based international mountain guides organization and expedition organizer.

We shall be working with them in our training, first of all by going on our first expedition to Bolivia – a 21 day adventure which will start off at La Paz (the highest capital city in the world) and see us have a bit of sight seeing at Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca, before we go further up in the Andes and climb Pequeno Alpamayo, the 6,088m Huayana Potosi peak, and the 6,438m Illimani mountain – the second highest peak in Bolivia.

The trip will see us learning advanced roping techniques, navigation through crevassed areas as well as helping us really experience in climbing in the cold, high altitude. Looks like it will be a lot of fun and certainly great preparation for the main expedition ahead!