On a solo mission....

It was a sad thing to say goodbye to my girlfriend and riding partner in LaPaz...
We have been riding together since El Salvador, over a year ...
what happened... yes.. we are still together!
After buying Angela´s motorcycle, we didn´t really think importing her bike into Chile would be any problem. But we soon found out it was impossible. So our only choice was to sell her bike somewhere down the road. We tried to sell it in Cusco Peru. It wasn´t easy, as no one wanted a bike without papers.
Bolivia was our next option...
As we rode close to the City of La Paz. I noticed a bike repair shop and stopped. ¨why don´t you ask these guys about your bike?¨
The guy was psyked... he liked her bike, little bargaining for a while...we agreed on a good price... good for him but not for us! ¨We come back tomorrow¨
So we came back, the guy had the cash, handed the keys over, - that was the end of Angela´s riding... It was sad to see the Yamaha XT225 off our hands... but it needed to be done.
Angela also needed to go back to Chile to help her dad with business. There was too much work to handle and Angela was the only one that could do it right.
Also without her bike, it would of been too hard to ride both of us on my bike with bad roads coming up thru Bolivia.

So from now on... I will ride on solo thru the Salt Flats of Bolivia via Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, On to San Pedro de Atacama Chile, across the Paso Sico Pass to Northern Argentina and fallow the route 40 south to Mendoza before crossing back into Chile to make my temporary final stop (while waiting for winter to be over...) and hopefully continue on into Ushuaia ... the very southern tip!

Stay tuned for crazy road stories of the ¨camino de la Muerte¨ - road of death! in Bolivia, to riding along 1000 kms of isolated desert land to Chile, Argentina...

High above sea level on Huayna Potosi - 6088 meters

Climbing Huayna Potosi (BOLIVIA) - Story By James " Diego" Cruikshank

The first ascent took place in 1919 by Germans Rudolf Dienst and Adolf Schulze. The easiest route entails an exposed ridge and sections of moderately steep ice, with a UIIA rating of PD. Huayna Potosi’s summit is at 6,088 meters.
I met up with my buddy Alain Denis from Squamish and his girlfriend Angela in La Paz. They have been riding their motor bikes through Latin America. Big Al and I decided to go on a mission to climb our first 6000 meter mountain. So we took Alains’ motor bike on a gravel road from LA PAZ to the base of Huayna Potosi, which took two hours. Finally we came to a lovely lakes area at an altitude of 4700m. This was where we would begin our massive siege of the mountain
We had a coffee and jam sandwich and then found a concrete room to store the motor bike over nite. Al wrapped his baby in a blanket, kissed it good-bye and we were off. From here it was a 2.5 hour hike up to the high rock camp at 5300 m. We passed the refugio and opted to camp, thus climbing a purer, more ethical mountaineer style. The camp area was level rocks, and suitable for pitching tents. We arrived at 5pm and checked out the amazing scenery, mountains lakes and valleys below. We cooked up some lentils, took some pictures, watched the sunset and tucked ourselves into bed at 6:30 but we never really slept, just dozed, tossed because of the altitude. Al had problems breathing but no problem farting. I actually considereded getting out of the tent to sleep but it was windy and freezing -5 plus wind chill. It felt like -10.

We got out of our sleeping bags at 1:45 to make coffee and pack our tent and summit packs. We began our summit attempt at 3:15 AM after falafelling around with our crampons. Luckily we didn’t have ropes or harness to mess around with, we did have Alpine axes and ski poles though. After 30 minutes of hiking our feet were freezing or rather frozen.

The route was clearly visible because of the full moon. It followed the main glacier up and across the bergschrund and directly up a ridge. This was our first small semi vertical wall to climb, it was about 50 degrees. After that the route curves behind a small mountain.
I prayed for sun rise to come quickly and it did. Then it started to get warm. So we plodded along easy slopes for another hour.

The final approach is very exposed along the summit ridge it may may been safer to rope up but Al (a.ka. El Burro) had no fear and I thought OK just don’t fall. The summit is small and has a pronounced cornice, reducing usable space. We sat for 5 minutes took pictures and then bailed. As we arrived at 9 AM. Morning sunshine causes the snow to become less stable for walking, and increases avalanche risk from 8 am onwards. The views from the summit were unbelievable the mountain is far higher than anything else nearby, the Cordillera Real, Lake Titicaca, and La Paz are all visible.

With jelly legs we slowly plodded our way back down the mountain. Arriving at rock camp by 11 AM.

We napped for an hour, Split a 500ml. coke and headed down to when the motorbike was parked. The packs had gotten mega heavy, “did Al fill mine with rocks cuz I put a few in his”. We got to the bike by 2pm, packed it up and Al drove back to La Paz as fast as he could. We were both really tired and needed to sleep. We got pulled over by the cops in the city doing 110 KM. but they said “please slow down”. We arrived happy to have climbed our first 6000 meter peak....

Leaving the pollution of La Paz behind

My loaded DR... but no problem making it to base at 4800 meters

Cemetery and Huayna Potosi in background

Base camp at 5369 meters - full moon - cold night!

The last summit push, narrow and killer exposure!

James and I on the summit 8:45 am - 6088 meters

Copacabana to La Paz

The ride from Copacabana to La Paz was a motorbikers dream road. Riding over 4000 meters in altitude, windy, perfectly paved, amazing views of Lake Titikaka.
At one point we had to cross the lake on a car ferry. Once in the middle of the way, the guy asked us for money...
"Cuanto?" I asked... 30 bolivianos each... "what?" more then we paid for our room in Copacabana for a 5 minute ferry crossing.
We had a feeling he was overcharging us. So when we got to the other side, Angela went to ask around what was the normal price to cross.
5 minutes later she arrived with a Port officer. The price was 8 Bolivianos, so he was really trying to get a few coins in his pocket. He still insisted that we pay 15 each because we were the only one on the boat and no other cars. The argument went of for 15 minutes. We finally paid him 30 Bolivianos for 3 bikes.
100 kms later, we were approaching the city of La Paz surrounded by 6000 meters snowy mountains. Once again, we found ourselves in clouds of black smoke for the exhaust of nasty buses...

Our rip - off boat man

Isla del Sol

Sweet job!

See if you can find the face of a Puma - Their god.

Copacabana Bolivia - May 4th, 2009

Welcome to Bolivia

market ladies

It doesn't get any better... a $3.50 room with a sunset view!

Charly and Trueno under the rainbow

Bike repair in Puno

Back yard welder fixing my rack

A sweet view of high snowy peak of Cordillera Real

The city of Puno and Lake Titikaka

We arrived in Puno at sunset, so we spent the night. We met Eamon along the road, his bike (KTM) was running a little sick so he asked us if he could tagged along incase he would break down.
Puno is a very hectic city on the edge lake Titikaka. The reason tourists would come here is to visit the Lake and to visit the floating islands on the lake . * These islands are made and re-made from the totora reeds which provide home, sustenance and transportation for their residents. Home of the Uros tribe, one which pre-dates the Incan civilization. According to their legends, they existed before the sun, when the earth was still dark and cold. They were impervious to drowining or being struck by lightning. They lost their status as super beings when they disobeyed universal order and mixed with humans, making them susceptible to contempt.*
We didn't go visit the islands, we thought it was nothing but an expensive tourist trap.
Instead, we paid a visit to a local welder... my bike rack was cracked for the 4th time from all the vibrations of bad roads.
He fixed my bike for $3... (he wanted $1.50 but gave him $3) a job that would cost me at least $40 in Canada!! got to love these countries!
The rack was solid again, ready for more beating in the worst roads of Bolivia..
Off we went for another border run to Bolivia.