Existing Member?

Maz's Adventures My experiences of South America, New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia and China.

Climbing 5038m

BOLIVIA | Monday, 19 February 2007 | Views [1808] | Comments [1]

On top of the world

On top of the world

This is an extract from my journal.

Day 1

I have just returned from our jolly upto Laguna Glacial some 5038m to be precise. After much deliberation in La Paz and Sorata i decided i could do it. We set out with our guide Roland to go shopping for supplies then meet our trusty mule.  Our first stop was to Rolands house to pick up sleeping bags, which i later found out had bed bugs and my back was savaged by the little critters.    We met Rolands grubby children whilst they were playing in the dirt and persecuting kittens with sticks.  With our mule loaded up with supplies and all the camping utilities we were only left to carry water and camera, easy right. Except it wasn't.    We set off for our first days ascent totalling 6 hours. The terrain wasn't to bad across feilds, ravines, passing llamas grazing the lands. Finally we  arrived at Laguna Chillata our base camp. A beautiful green laguna with breathtaking views down the valleys into Sorata.     As soon at the sun went down the temperature plummeted below zero. With all our clothes on, ski pants, hats, gloves, thermals, t-shirts and 2 pairs of socks to keep us warm Rolando cooked up dinner and we immediatley retreated to our tent afterwards to sleep at 7pm. I awoke at 2am and not relly sleeping for most of the night, not too cold just altitude insomnia.

Day 2

The next day was the main ascent upto the glacier at 5038m, base camp was at 4200m so only 800 or so meters to ascend. A freezing start to the day with a frozen tent and a tired maz.   The hike up to the Glacier was possible one of the hardest things ive done in my life. A 10k race was nothing in comparison with this.  We hiked up slate, across giant boulders, across volcanic flats, vertical walls. Through rivers, over peaks, along walls, across ice fields and frozen rivers. Every type of rock imaginable a geologists dream.  I slipped, tripped and dragged my body up that mountain. With my lungs burning out of my back and the strength of a 4 year old child i clamberd further and further. Four hours into the hike and i was beaten, severly panting and sruggeling. 35 steps and i would have to stop, my body was exhausted from lack of oxygen and my muscles cramping up. It got so painful i collapsed and believed i couldn't go on any further. Sobbing because i felt defeated, useless and beaten but knowing that it was only altitude that had me. John comforted me and the guide informed us that it was ony another 40 mins head of us. This spured me on and i didn't want to let this beat me. So i picked myself up and headed on through some of the toughest terrain yet. Cursing with every step and trying to lift my legs, one in front of the other, its easy right? No it wasn't.   Two steep peaks later an hour on and we finally arrived. Worn and broken, emotionally, mentally and physically i pushed my body to its hilt. The Laguna glacial was awesome and  Mt Ancouhuma looming over us was beautiful.  I felt like i was on top of the world, I was.  The mountain has all the power, its diverse landscapes and cool temperament command all around it to worship it.    After a brief lunch and a much needed rest the appropriate photos were taken strength was regained and the daring descent started.  Three hours of slipping and trying to hold on to my stick, rocks anything i could grab to support myself and release the pressure from the toe crushing descent. After the grueling ascent i had now gained power. A drop of a few hundred meters makes all the difference. It was only the knees and the ankles baring the brunt this time.  John turned ill and the was feeling the altitude with nausea and pressure headaches.  The glorious sight of the mule meant that camp was close, knowing the laguna was't far off and that we could finally relax. We finally made it back in one peice having gone through all the motions. I washed my scorching feet in the icy cool laguna. John didn't fare to well after dinner and the altitude gripped him and dinner came back up.   That evening we collapsed with big smile on our faces.

Day 2

We awoke the next day with slight relief of knowing it was all down hill but at the same time the ankels were screaming out for release. Every step feeling my weight on my feet but also trying to get down as quickly as possible just to get the ordeal over with as quickly as possible. Four hours descent later and we arrived back at Sorata vowing never to attempt such a grueling task as this again. Those final steps into our hotel hurt like hell and ive never been so happy to see a shower and a bed.  Laguna Glacial was amazing and something i will never forget. The tears,the joy and the happiness of coming back in one piece.

Tags: Mountains



Hello, Mariann, We were wondering where you are 8 months on from when you left NZ. I have just been re-reading your journal about climbing the Laguna Glacial, and
marvelling how you put yourself through all that torture.We have spent many hours looking at all your photos, and thinking that if you are home again,how you felt about that 'Epic' journey. We would love to hear from you. Give our Kindest Regards
to your Mum & Dad, and Nana Marie

  James & Sheila Johnson & Sheila Milne. Oct 6, 2007 7:20 PM

About mcgurk77

Washing my feet in the river after the first afternoon of treking

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Bolivia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.