Licancabur [EN]

22nd September 2008. Bolivia. I got up at 3:30 in the morning, in the room there were 2 degrees Celsius. If you can call it a room – we slept at 4,500 meters height above sea level in a small building with no heating or running water. In fact, because of the altitude and the terrible cold, I didn’t sleep all night. Before leaving, I ate one corncake and drank tarred coffee. We set off at 4 am.

It was totally dark, the nearest artificial lights were 33 kilometers away, already on the Chilean side of the border. Five minutes later, the car stopped – there was the start of our climb.

After thirty steps I wanted to turn back, my head was throbbing and I couldn’t breathe. Our Bolivian friend Humberto encouraged me to fight on. I took a thermos of coffee and instead of taking a drink, I doused myself with it while severely steaming myself. The energy came right back.

We climbed strenuously, walking one behind the other with torches on our foreheads. In this dark, windless but impossibly cold night, we must have looked like phantoms. Five of them to be exact: a local guide who looked like he was 100 years old, Humberto, who was always smiling, and three daredevils from Poland who were much less prepared for high mountain climbing.

At 6 am it became bright and beautiful. I had long forgotten the difficult start. The sun began to paint the surrounding mountains and valleys with all shades of pastel colors. On the way, we passed a cross set up to commemorate the death of a tourist from the Czech Republic. Halfway up, at an altitude of 5200 m, I was already convinced that this was the most beautiful place I had ever been to.

We reached the summit at 5917 m at 12:30 pm. Despite eight hours of climbing and almost 1,500 meters of altitude difference, I did not feel tired at all. I literally ran up to the summit. We spent about half an hour at the top, admiring the world and I took a few photos (including this one) before we started the descent. I reached the bottom at 4:30 pm, twelve hours after starting. Tired, but not exhausted. And how exhilarating.

locationBolivian-Chilean border
exposure time1/60s

Looking for someone to do a landscape shoot for you? Check out what collaboration with me looks like.

Copyright © 2022 arekphotography.com