Brrr, it's cold up here!
Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
79Trip End Jul 30, 2011
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What I did
Ice climbing and Tiwanaku visiting
That night we wandered back to the tourist local and booked our adventure for the next day… ICE CLIMBING
Step one: learn how to walk in crampons. Not as easy as it would seem, but we "mastered" a few different techniques for walking up and down shockingly steep glacial walls.
Step two: the ice axe! Again, looks easy, but there is a proper way of holding and using the bloody thing, and we were instructed on both the straight ice axe and the curved climbing one.
Step three: practice. Jam your crampons into the ice wall at a 90˚ angle (it hurts your toes!) Then jam in your other foot, and hammer each ice axe in above your head
The practice didn’t go well for me, as I fell almost immediately, bashed my knee and crushed my fingers. Josh fared better, and scaled our practice wall (a nice slant, but still pretty steep) in no time at all. He tried to direct me but it just wasn’t happening. Our next challenge was the real wall – perfectly vertical, sheer ice, with a line. Josh went first, and after a few stumbles made it up to the top to our cheers and applause. “Way harder than it looks,” was my positive encouragement as I hooked in and started up. I made it in surprisingly good time, scampering up to the top with very few faults, although I did have some helpers at the bottom giving me hints. We each had a few tries, but you can’t quite understand how exhausting ice climbing is at almost 5000m. I called it a day after not wedging my axe in quite hard enough and pulling it back into my head with my full body weight (no blood, don’t worry!) Josh had one more try, and after about 4 hours at the glacier we packed it in and headed back to the refugio for lunch before heading back to La Paz.
The next day was a day we booked onto a cheap tour ($7 each) and headed out to Tiwanaku
Despite all that, there were two museums, one of which contained the largest monolith found to date in the Americas. It had incredible detail representing Pachamama (mother earth) and various archeologist have speculated on the meanings of the ornate carvings, some of which can be traced back to represent the agricultural calendar. Very cool. There was also tons of pottery found, with a very unique painting style, along with incense burners, animal representations, and even a mummy.
The pictures will be far more descriptive than I can be unless this turns into a very long essay, but suffice to say we were thoroughly impressed. The Tiwanaku people also used raised fields as a way of combating frost and ensuring larger, more plentiful crops. There is still a great deal of excavation left to be done, and the site itself it huge and widely recognized as Bolivia’s most important archeological site.
Next stop: Copacabana!