Sunday, March 11, 2007

Curahuara de Carangas

Curahuara de Carangas: 3/2-3,12-13/2007

After the nasty, barf’y, diarrhea’y spell in La Paz, we headed out in our rented 4-runner to do some rock climbing at Curahuara de Carangas. The drive there is through a beautiful, Utah-ish landscape. We asked the commander at the military base in the nearby town where the rock climbing is. As it turns out the military have a mountaineer division, and they train here (how to climb, rope work, etc). When we get to the climbing area, we found it bustling with camo-clad soldiers getting ready for a graduation ceremony, that will take place tomorrow, under the climbing area. A little uneasy about our climbing prospects, we pitch camp and enjoy watching a thunder and lightning show approach us as we ate dinner. The storm gets a little too close for comfort… we moved the car further away from the tent.

The next morning we woke up to a military marching band playing about 100 m from our camp. They were loudly processing up to their graduation ceremony area, and playing for the civilians that were in attendance. After breakfast, we walked to the base of the climbs, watched the military demonstrations for a while, and decided that we didn’t want to be climbing right in the middle of it all. Our luck… this ceremony happens once a year and we chose this exact date to climb here!! We went off to an area to the side and set up ropes to practice crevasse rescue and glacier travel skills. We stayed until the afternoon, then decided to come back to climb another day.

When we came back to Curahuara de Carangas (after finding Tunupa), we had a much better (and quieter) climbing experience. This little cliff band is beautiful, and the surrounding area is filled with amazing rock features and wildlife. During dusk and dawn the quiet peace is consistently broken by the loud squawks of the three nesting Condors in the cliff band. And, as we walked along the top of the cliffs in the afternoon, we were surprised to find that we were being studied for a while by a wise silent owl.

The climbing here is excellent, and we got a good morning in before the skies darkened and we were barraged by hail. We thought we would stick it out, that it would be a short inconvenience… we ate some lunch, opened a beer… it didn’t stop. We pulled our gear and took a hike in the rain/hail for the afternoon. We left the next morning.

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