Birthday Wishes and Bolivian Dreams

Strange birthdays abound en la tercera mundo and the manboy turns the page, becoming the Manking somewhere on a mountaintop in the Cordillera Real.

The Manking’s Prayer:

Our Manking who art in the Promised Lands
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in the wastelands
Give us this day our daily Cuy
And forgive us not our trespasses
For we can never forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us into the Promised Lands
Hasta la victoria

Huayna Potosi and the steel-hearted ascenders club: The Huayna Potosi lies about an hour or so outside La Paz and one might perchance glance their first glimpse of this magnificient white giant whilst bumping along the Altiplano at 14000 feet, its snowcapped summit punching a hole in the sky and a perfect place to usher in one’s dirty thirties. Although it should be noted that nothing is truly “easy” at 20,000 feet, Huayana P is largely considered to be the easiest 6000m climb in the world and will sometimes see 40 or 50 people in large groups making a push to its summit in the wee hours of the Andean dawn. Indeed, we had been up to its refugio at 5200m the week before and it was jampacked with souls, eager to counterpunch their touristic tickets after riding mountain bicycles down the death road. A week later the mountain Gods are smiling and there is nary a soul in the sky as the refugio is abandoned and the summit empty. On the celebratory stroll down we would pass a few people making their way to the top, but none with the style and aplomb of the manchild turned manking, Tupac bag a few ounces lighter now having shed its dessicated llama fetus on the summit as an offering to the Gods.

White lightnin’: Summiting in the dark, a constant theme. I am just too damn fast.

Obligatory pre-summit alpaca sweatered posedown

On the way up to the refugio

Looking down from the refugio

Aforementioned llama feto. Where does he get those wonderful toys!?! Sourced from the local witches market in the backstreets of old La Paz. Feto-pets.

HP as spied from the handlebars of CB

Ol’ HP loomin’ large over the cemetery of lost souls, and of European tourists who would try, and fail, to summit. A few gave some, some gave all.

A fitting end: Riding back to La Paz in a 4×4 Lada, llamas lining the road. Birthday dreams…

Note: To summit a 20,000 foot peak with complete ease one might want to do a little prep-work and the Cordillera Real offers up some fascinating gems on which to dope up. We managed to hook up with some like-minded gents, departing on microbusses to all corners of the empire in the frosty Bolivian morn in search of eye-hurting natural beauty.

Lagunas Arkhata at the foot of Mururata

Inukshuk shakedown: The natives of the North make little men out of rocks and you see them everywhere whilst driving through Northern Canada and Alaska. They’re chido bro and tactical cultural incisions sometimes have to be made.


Chacaltaya: In the 30’s a bunch of souls carved out a road and built a refugio and ski-lift on top of Chacaltaya. The glacier and snow have completely melted away but the refugio remains, as does the road which is one of the highest in the world. Would the CB make it? Not a chance bro, and the plug was pulled at just under 17,000 feet, refugio in sight, after overheating and stalling out more than a few times on the bumpy rocky ass route to the top.

…stuck at 17,000 feet

And as luck would have it, The Strongest were back in town, squaring up against those pinche Petroleros down old Oruro way. It was off to the ol’ Estadio, the highest in the universe to host world cup qualifying matches, to round out ones birthday dreams drunk, of course, in the cold Bolivian night and all done up in Strongest garb.

…the gente setting off rockets for my bday.

Greatest food selection I’ve ever seen at any sporting event. To the right, that’s what’s left of a whole roasted pig chopped up and dished out to Strongistas. In the foreground, well those are llama penises.

Well, that’s that.

I’m fuckin’ 30


4 responses to “Birthday Wishes and Bolivian Dreams

  1. Happy B-Day buddy 🙂
    Only 30 but nevertheless more life experiences than most. Well done – keep the pics and stories comin’ and ride safe.

  2. I took some of your clothes…happy belated birthday

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