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Bolivia Summit Whiteout and Ave Maria Birds

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition

Ian’s post from Bolivia follows and we expect more from him soon, but we also wanted to let you know that another AlpenGlowExpeditions team is preparing to leave soon. In a couple of days, we’ll have a first report from that Himalaya-bound team. Meantime, from Bolivia:

Well, the group is complete now that Desiree has joined us and enjoying much deserved R&R in Copacabana. Brad and I summited Pequeno Alpamayo two days ago in a whiteout. Here is a recap…

We spent the last five days acclimatizing and working on skills necessary for our climbs. On Wednesday we bagged our first summit, Pico Austria, a two hour jaunt from basecamp to a 17,000+ ft summit. When not climbing Brad has become quite proficient in basic crevasse rescue and snow anchors. When I asked our cook, Edgar, what he thought about Brad´s skills he said he thought I would live… whew!

Friday morning we wake up to clear skies, but with flashes of lightning far off to the other side of the range. Nothing to worry about as the storms were much lower toward the jungle. But as we ascended so did clouds from the other side of the mountain, luckily without the lightning. By the time we climbed to the top of Pico Tarija, a necessary summit on the way to Pequeno Alpamayo, we were fully in a whiteout. From Tarija the climbing became more interesting, beginning with a rock down climb into the saddle between the peaks and up a knife-edge ridge of snow and ice. After four and a quarter hours of climbing, mostly in a whiteout and falling snow, we arrived at the summit of Pequeno Alpamayo!

In basecamp that evening we were again treated to blue skies. We had somehow managed to climb during the only bad weather spell since our arrival in La Paz. While admiring our good fortune, a striking bird flew into camp and we questioned Edgar as to the name. Apparently it is the Ave Maria bird that if you see during sunset is supposed to bring good luck. ´´A little late don´t you think?´´, I said to Edgar. But then again, maybe it forecasts our climb of Huayna Potosi. Stay tuned…

Ian B (by e-mail)