Boulders in Bolivia

Just over the border  between Chile and Bolivia at Ollagüe we started seeing funky sandstone boulders, lots of sandstone boulders. I’m generally a reluctant boulderer, but just the sheer number and awesome formations meant we just hed to stop and play.

 

Given that just walking around leaves you breathless the problems we did were not very hard, but good fun…. Three new boulder problems in Bolivia now.

Breathless in Bolivia

Sending Breathless in Bolivia, V1.
Sending Breathless in Bolivia, V1.

 

For a Fist Full of Bolivianos

Sending For a Fist Full of Bolivianos. V1
Sending For a Fist Full of Bolivianos. V1

 

For a few Bolivianos more

Sending a V0 problem!
Sending a V0 problem!

 

The boulder field stretched in all directions as far as you could see so I guess there are plenty more possibilities. Although lots of cleaning required for anything hard… the holds can be a bit snappy! Oh and it’s a long way to go for a bit of a boulder.

Bolivia Here We Come!

With just two days left on our Chilean visas we headed for the Bolivian border and on to Uyuni famous for the Salar de Uyuni salt flat. The road was marked on the map as largely unpaved, but we were hoping the section on the Chilean side would be in good condition. We were wrong, although there were some random sections of good quality paved road out there in the middle of nowhere.

The landscape you pass through is awesome; surrounded by lakes,volcanoes (some of them smoking) and herds of vacuna grazing. The driving was engaging and fun too! Although when we saw a wrecked chilean police car that had left the road at some tight bends and rolled down the steep hill-side my focus on driving increased somewhat.

We arrived at a Chilean Cabineros post before the border, they were talking to me and when they caught sight of Cyril (the wood burning stove) (we may have spent too long in our van!) and exclaimed about our Estufa! I then opened up the back so they could see Cyril in all his glory, they thought this was very amusing – an estufa in a van! Out came smart phones to take pictures before sending us on our way. There’s a short video of the trip here, sorry for the poor editing!

The border crossing was the first with Steve so we didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out to be slightly mystifying, but relatively painless and we made it over with must of our food stash intact despite lots of internet stories of losing the lot. The roads actually improved on the Bolivian side of the border and we made good progress toward Uyuni, although we still ended up driving in darkness for some of the way. In an ideal world driving in the dark is a no-no, but when you’ve only got an hour to go you just have to push on through.

Socaire!

In San Pedro we bumped into Pierre, Manuel and Clementine who we had met climbing at Torrecillas. They were keen to go climbing at Socaire, a gorge about 100kms away and up at an altitude of nearly 4000m. They were struggling for transport, but then Steve came to the rescue!

We headed of to Socaire, which is supposed to have really good climbing. It did not disappoint, the gorge has a good mix of sport and trad and half the gorge appears to not have been climbed at all.   We had a great two days climbing with Manuel and Clem, it was just so beautiful there high above the salt flat with a backdrop of volcanoes.

Gorgeous!
Gorgeous!

The climbing was pretty hard though (maybe in part due to the altitude.)

Manuel on Route
Manuel on Route

 

Me near the top of a 6b just before falling off!
Me near the top of a 6b just before falling off!

 

We really wanted to stay, but our visas were due to run out in two days so sadly we had to head for Bolivia.

I thnk you'll alays leave this plce wanting more!
I thnk you’ll always leave this plce wanting more!

If you climb and get the chance to go to Socaire then go – it is great climbing on red sandstone in an amazing place, and you’ll likely be on your own.

Just take care to inspect those bolts, sandstone and expansion bolts don’t do so well. There were a good few horribly loose bolts on the routes, usually at the cruxes.

The first bolt on a route that was just about ready to come out! I thought I'd take a good look!
The first bolt on a route that was just about ready to come out! I thought I’d take a good look!