What Moab is to mountain biking, Bolivia is to ski mountaineering and climbing.
After several years of honing our cold weather ski mountaineering skills in the Alaska and Wrangel/St. Elias ranges, fighting monstrous storms and getting pinned in tents for days on end, a friend told us we were crazy and suggested we go to Bolivia where the weather is consistently good and the climbing is superb. So in 1996, instead of heading north to Alaska we went south to La Paz, Bolivia where we were treated with some spectacular technical steep snow and ice climbs that were the perfect training ground for our first 8000 meter peak, Broad Peak, in 1997. We climbed four different peaks on that trip Condoriri (18,530 ft), Pequeno Alpamayo (17,618 ft), Huayna Potosi (19,974 ft), and Illimani (21,125 ft).
Jim Gile belaying Mike Marolt up the couloir that leads to Condoriri's knife edge summit ridge.
Jim following Mike's steps up Condoriri's beautiful, airy summit ridge.
Mike on the summit of Condoriri.
Steve Marolt and Jim Gile on the summit of Pequeno Alpamayo.
We have been back to Bolivia many times since 1996 to prepare for other Himalayan expeditions. In recent years we have taken our experience to the next level with single day ascents/ski descents on three of Bolivia's 5000 and 6000 meter peaks (Mururata, Sajama and Illimani). These peaks offer as much as 9000 vertical feet to altitudes above 21,000 feet. It is rare to find such uncrowded and easily accessible peaks of this magnitude in such close proximity. Combine that with incredible weather, superb climbing, and excellent skiing and its easy to see why Bolivia is a true ski mountaineering and climbing mecca.
Jim Gile skiing on Mururata.
Steve Marolt skiing on Sajama.
Mike Marolt skiing on Illimani.
- Team 8K Peak