Bolivia’s cholita climbers scale highest mountain hitherto: ‘I wept with emotion’

Two years ago, 11 Aymara indigenous women who worked for mountaineers decided to do their own rise and had now been undertook five heydays near La Paz

For years, Lydia Huayllas, 48, has worked as a cook at base camps and mountain-climbing refuges on the immerse, glacial slopes of Huayna Potosi, a 19,974 ft( 6,088 -meter) Andean peak outside of the Bolivian administrative capital, La Paz.

But two years ago, she and 10 other Aymara indigenous wives, ages 42 to 50, who also drove as doormen and cooks for mountaineers, put one over crampons spikes defined to a boot for climbing under their broad conventional skirts and started to do their own climbing.

These ladies have now scaled five flowers Acotango, Parinacota, Pomarapi and Huayna Potos as well as Illimani, the highest of all in Bolivias Cordillera Real compas. All are higher than 19,500 ft( 6,000 meters) above sea level.

Bolivias cholita climbers put on crampons under their conventional skirts while scaling mountains. Image: David Mercado/ Reuters

What do you do up there, how does it seem? Huayllas said she requested her husband, mountain guidebook Eulalio Gonzales, two summers ago. That was when he was suggested that she clambered the meridian to be informed about for herself.

Last weekend, the women climbed the imposing Illimani, which has a five-mile( eight kilometer) long succession of four tops. It is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real with its heyday at 21,122 ft( 6,438 meters ).

It tower above the Bolivian highlands, La Paz and Lake Titicaca to the west, and the valley of the Amazon to the east. Eight of the 11 been able to reach the summit, heroic a snowstorm and heavy winds.

The girls climb in their conventional cholita garb, but trade in their bowler hats for helmets, and use modern material including tethers, harness, crampons and boots.

One advantage the status of women have over intruders who come to the Andes to climb is that highland Bolivians are already well acclimated to the thin breeze at high altitudes.

The women heroic snowstorms and heavy airs to clamber the Illimani mountain last weekend. Photo: Stinger/ Reuters

The short-term aim of the working group is to climbing eight mountains higher than 19,700 ft( 6,000 meters ).

The first know-how was the Huayna Potos. I announced with emotion. And Im strong, Im going to continue and get to the top of eight mountains, said Dora Magueo, 50.

The groups eventual fantasy is to plant a Bolivian pennant on the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia at 22,841 ft( 6,961 meters ), located in the Argentinian Andes near their own borders with Chile.

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