Canyons and Silvermines

We didn’t take much persuading to leave Uyuni. The next stop was to be Potosi, once one of the richest cities in the world due to the now largely exhausted silver mines. Our guide we’d had on the salt flats tour had told us the the road to Potosi was good, and it turned out to be a nice new fully tarmaced road through the mountains and altiplano, the drive was very enjoyable.

Vacuna and cattle grazing the altiplano.
Vacuna and cattle grazing the altiplano.

About 60kms south of Potosi we passed by a really impressive canyon near Aguas de Castilla ,which looked like there could be some good climbing and be a good park for the night.

There's got to be someeeee routes in tha there canyon
There’s got to be someeeee routes in tha there canyon

We continued on to Potosi, however, as we needed some supplies and wanted to have a wonder round the city. The city is built on a steep hillside and at over 4000m this makes just walking round the city a challenge, although well worthwhile as the old colonial buildings and narrow streets are really pretty.

Streets of Potosi.
Streets of Potosi.

There was no information about climbing in the canyon on the internet, so we would have to just go and see what we could find. After a good and undisturbed nights sleep we found a way down into the canyon and started looking for suitable lines to climb (strong lines that did not look too hard). We could see lots of good potential routes, but the easier lines all seemed to be involve a lot of loose crumbly rock and required more cleaning than I was prepared to take on. The harder lines were solid, but were more than one pitch and looked a bit hard for Barbara to follow.

Steep corner cracks in the canyon walls.
Steep corner cracks in the canyon walls. 

After a couple of hours we gave up on the climbing idea and decided to go for a walk down the canyon. The canyon was really stunning with a beautifully clear stream running down the middle, the high sandstone walls were impressive. The stream had many deep pools so we took the opportunity to have a much needed quick dip and a bit of a wash. The water was COLD, but we felt refreshed and importantly clean afterwards.

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