Tahoe/Chamonix resident Dave Rosenbarger recently returned from what sounds like an epic ski mountaineering expedition to Bolivia. Check out is partner Giulia Monego’s blog at http://giuliamonego.com/ or keep on reading below for the second of 4 reports from their trip. Photo’s courtesy of Christian Pondella.
The main ski objective for last week trip was to climb and ski the beautiful South face of Pequeno Alpamayo, a stunning looking face of 300 meters of perfect 45°/50°snow slope, not high but esthetically unbeatable.
The plan was to get in on monday, then we delayed for tuesday, but unfortunately at midday of that resting day we all eat a delicious chicken, that meaningly poisoned us for the all night and next few days. It was horrible, we all felt super sick and had to move the trip for another day at least. The day we walked to base camp though I was still feeling incredibly weak and not in shape at all. The 3 hours hike from the village of Tuni to the lake by the camp, were luckily easy, but felt like the longest 3 hours hike in my life! I couldn’t hike anything steep that day, and hopefully we had cute little donkeys carrying our gear up the valley.
Arrived at the camp we set up kitchen and tents in little time. Had dinner and in few hours i was already snoring inside my sleeping bag!
The whole next day was recovery and nutrition day. Since that evil chicken i couldn’t eat anything with pleasure and my portions were as small as a sick grandma meal.
Finally the next morning we all felt good, and with enough energies to attempt our goal and go for the ski on the south face. We didn’t have to do a “Alpine start”, luckily, (i’ve never been good with those!), since the face was most of the day in the shade and we wanted the sun to hit it and soften the snow up, enough to be edgeable for skiing. The climb up went well and as we popped up at the top of the glacier we had in sight we finally had a good look at our objective. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and how the conditions of the snow were looking . I was only dreaming about so much snow coverage! When we were at the base of the south face we realized how early we were compare to the sun schedule, so we had to sat down and waist some time in the hope of seeing the snow melange sown on the surface.
That part of the dream never happened! We waited and eventually start climbing the face, but the sun rays were too weak for melting the hard icy layer of the face, which it would made the skiing extremely hard and dangerous. Once i realized we couldn’t ski what we wanted, even if it was looking sooooo good, i couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but surely it was painful to accept that. In the years of experience in the mountain i learned that a safe decision is alway a pleasure to make, but never satisfying. At least we were all agreeing on that, so the rest of the day went out smooth as it was meant to.
We all got easily to the summit still excited to have climbed our first peak in Bolivia. In the end the decision to ski down the west ridge instead, became the best option we could have choosen. The snow conditions were perfect at that time of the day, and we had a great fun ripping turns for Christian’s lens pleasure.
We took long time to go back to camp, not because we weren’t fast on skis, but because it was so nice and beautiful out, that we couldn’t stop shooting and filming, and enjoy every single moment in the maountain.
Back to camp I finally enjoy my meal and went to bed satisfied, at least on my belly!
The next day we started late again, this time going for a bigger peak, the Condoriri, the highest of the area. We didn’t planned our hike at the minimum details, and on the way up we realized it was taking us longer than expected. At the base of the summit west slope, we were astonished for how the snow was still hard, like was on the South aspects, , and didn’t get soft by the sun at all. At that point, cooked by the sun (us, not the snow!!) and late on schedule, we turned around and head back to camp. It was a failure, but a good teaching about snow reliability and timing.
The next morning was time to pack up the camp, and head down the valley. Our donkeys showed up really late, so I anticipated then, walking down, alone, first, making sure that the taxi would have wait for us in Tuni.
Something funny happened in my hike, that never happened in my life before… I got attacked by dogs! First 3 shepherd dogs looking after the sheep, got scared that i was too close and surrounded and followed me barking loud for few hundreds meters. There i got scared, but i managed to not get bitten. Lower down, though already on sight of the taxi, I stupidly walked through the village, instead of staying in the main dirt road.
That bad decision costed me a bite on my ankle by a big dog, that wasn’t too happy to see me walking in his yard! The bite was deep and cut open my skin, but luckily it wasn’t painful. Now i am back in La Paz with a doctor medication on my ankle and anti-rabies vaccine in my body. I feel good aver all, a little sore on the wound but with good hopes for the next objective: Hayna Potosi! I any hope the boots won’t be too painful!!!.
Stay tuned for more