Friday, May 11, 2012

Bolivia Is Kind of Close

Bolivia is kind of close

I have finished my meeting in Washington DC and more work awaits me next week in California. But first things first. There's a weekend in between, and what better way to spend the weekend than to fly 16,000 kilometers to Bolivia?

I'm expecting action packed two days. Wish me luck. I don't even know if I'll be able to breathe at the airport at La Paz as it sits at 13,300 feet (4061 meters). And the going gets just tougher from there. When I start my return journey, the aircraft flies just 500 kilometers before it needs to make a refueling stop. The airport is so high that the aircraft cannot get up with any meaningful fuel load.

And I also don't know if I'll manage to find the necessary help to take me to the real mountains. Or if I'll find snow or be able to climb at all in the extreme altitudes. Or if my gear makes it with me to La Paz; losing the luggage is very likely, in fact. Or if they let me the country, as the information about the vaccination requirements is conflicting.

Trip length

As a way to deal with one of these uncertainties, I have acquired backup skis that fit into my carry-on luggage. If my real skis fail to make it to Bolivia, I can carry these miniskis to the mountain. These children's skis might be strong enough to allow me to do at least a bit of skiing down the mountain.


Anyway, the most likely outcome is that I'll spend my weekend with a headache in my hotel bed. The altitudes are just so high. Getting as far as the snow would be a real win, but I'm not counting on this happening. Hopefully it will be an interesting experience anyway.

Photo credits (c) 2012 by Jari Arkko and the Great Circle Mapper


  1. Did you ever make to the snow in Bolivia? I presume you were aiming to ski what is left of Chacaltaya?

  2. I did make it to the snow on the Cordillera Real mountains. With some adventures... Chacaltaya would have been another option, but there's very little snow.

    The blog article appeared a little later, here: