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  Cerro Charkini, Parinacota, & Sajama


Mountain Madness Sajama 2004 Expedition - Dispatch 1

Trip Leader: Mark Ryman and Gaspar Navarrete

Expedition members:

Dennis Bankowski

 James Weismueller

Robert Oglesby

Danny Driggs

Steve Voss. 

This is Mark Ryman here in Copacabana, Bolivia on the shore of Lake Titicaca.  This is the third day of the trip and so far our group is acclimatizing well.  In addition to myself, the group is composed of Everyone is healthy and in great spirits.  We started off in La Paz at almost 12,000 feet above sea level and made a few hikes over the last two days at elevations approaching 14,000 feet.  We have encountered a few obstacles with travel.  As is often the case in Bolivia, there is a bit of political strife.  As it has been explained to me by some of the locals, the problem is with the export of oil from Bolivia by large non-Bolivian owned corporations who pay a much lower tax percentage than is common in other countries.  The campesinos who live in the rural areas of the Altiplano are very upset by this and have been expressing their opposition by forming many road blockades.  This is done by simply placing huge amounts of debris and rocks on the main highways.  The rocks range in size from that of a cantaloupe to a medium sized TV set.  They also just build dirt wall barriers three feet tall across the entire road at one to two mile intervals.  This all proves very effective to disrupt commercial transport and tourist traffic.  I have encountered this before and there is no threat of personal harm, especially to tourists.  They are simply trying to make a statement to their government. 

We were lucky yesterday when our microbus driver was able to maneuver through and around the barricades to get us to the ruins at Tiwanaku.  After spending the day exploring the ruins, we maneuvered our way, sometimes slowly and tediously, through vague off road detours to finally arrive here in Copacabana. This morning we started our day with hiking up to the highest point above the town.  At 4200 meters, the views of the lake and the border with Peru are excellent.  We got into a boat for the afternoon and made the journey out to Isla Del Sol for more acclimatization hiking and exploration of the ruins on the island.  The vista from the island allows for incredible views of the northwest end of the Cordillera Real, including Llampu and Ancohuma.  On the boat ride back to town, some heavy clouds moved in and we could see a thunderstorm brewing and moving toward the Condoriri region, possibly dumping some fresh snow.  Tomorrow we will attempt to travel to Zongo Pass at the base of Huayna Potosi to prepare for our first objective, Cerro Charkini.  Preliminary reports about the state of the road blockades indicate that we may have some more serious obstacles and potential delays tomorrow.  Wish us luck.  I will attempt to send another dispatch in a few days.  Mark Gunlogson/ Mountain Madness

Dispatches

 
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