A group of Bolivian “Cholitas” – (Aymara indigenous) women to climb the Aconcagua, the Highest Peak of the Americas (6,962 m/22,840 feet). Aconcagua is located in the province of Mendoza, in Argentina and towers the other mountains of the Andes by more than 1,000 meters.
These ‘Cholitas’ have been working cooking for tourist expeditions in the mountains of Bolivia. They got caught with curiosity on why people were coming back, year after year, and started climbing themselves. The feeling of freedom got them hooked and they’ve started doing it more and more.
Aconcagua is a magnet for all climbers. Being the highest peak of the Americas, where the treeline is low, makes it a very tough mountain. It has three climbing routes – the normal route, the Polish Glacier and Traverse route and the third route known as the Direct Route or the Polish Glacier Route. You can read a good article on these routes here.
Aconcagua is also known as the world’s highest ‘trekking peak’ and thousands of hikers attempt to climb it each year. However, it is one of the most underestimated mountains in the world and has one of the lowest summit success rates. Extreme altitude and temperatures going up to -30C, plus having a low treeline, that makes you feel the lack of oxygen sooner, makes Aconcagua a difficult mountain to climb.
These ‘Cholitas’ have left La Paz in Bolivia to get to Mendoza and start their ascent. They are between 24 and 50 years old.
Their idea is to show their abilities in climbing the Aconcagua and show that they can do it, even as they have been before discriminated for being women and indigenous. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Bolivia communicated that the objective of this mission is to show the women’s abilities and being part of a documentary video that will be aired in Spain. This expedition has been financed by Montura.
At the beginnings of 2017, this group managed to climb the Illimani. This is one of the most emblematic mountains of the department of La Paz in Bolivia. One of the climbers expressed that the ‘feeling of arriving was the most beautiful that one can feel, is like being in paradise. I’ve felt free of everything. I remembered that everybody thought that not even myself nor my colleagues would be able to reach the Illimani. But we demonstrated we could do it with facts, not words. It was a really unique experience’
This is what they’ve written on their Facebook page:
“Press Release 1
We say goodbye to our families with a lot of nostalgia from our homes and at the airport. The trip from peace to Mendoza was very beautiful and surprising because we saw the Royal Andes Mountain range from the plane
We made a small scale in Santiago de Chile and landed in Mendoza at night.
We met different people on this journey that wished us a lot of success in our ascent to Aconcagua. Especially women who felt inspired by our history, they called us warriors, representatives of a female empowerment for being fulfilling this dream so special that we have to conquer the highest summit in America. And many people took pictures with us we feel very happy and represented.
The arrival to Mendoza received us with lots of sun and heat.
We are now preparing our backpacks that are our ..and many people are pending every detail of what we lack.
Today we will go to Horcones and stay in the shelter of the caves and tomorrow we will start walking towards confluence.
Let’s go with the heart of our Bolivia and meet Argentine friends and other countries to share experiences.
We are very excited and now we feel that this is the beginning of the dream.
Let’s go for the top!!! Sincerely #cholitasescaldorasdebolivia#cholitasclimbingbolivia #cholitasblimbersbolivia
Lidia Huaylas Estrada
Dora magueño machaca
Ana Lia Gonzales magueño
Cecilia Llusco Alana
Elena Quispe Tincuta
This message was yesterday, we are now in the caves already about to start our promotion.”
And here is posted their petition for funds and explaining why they are attempting to climb the Aconcagua:
“We are a group of Bolivian women passionate about the mountains. We have worked for years as cooks for tourist expeditions to different mountains of the Andes. That way, curiosity began to awake inside us. Why did tourists return so happy, what was up there? We started climbing and we were caught by the feeling of freedom that we found.
Our dream is to climb the largest mountain in America, the Aconcagua Mount. We want to record on video our expedition, and show the world that we can, even though we have been marginalized before because we are women, and because we are indigenous. We are capable of great feats.
We need help, we have never climbed out of our country and the expedition costs money: plane tickets, permits to climb to the top, food. We are going to climb Aconcagua at the beginning of next year. We are sure that, if we achieve to pay the expedition, we will be able to reach the top. We are preparing physically, and we are in a very good shape and with a huge motivation. If you follow us, we will show you the video at the end and we will try to let the whole world know what we have done thanks to your help.
Thank you so much. “
The link to this petition is here.
National Geographic en Español
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Featured Image: A group of Bolivian ‘Cholitas’ women to climb Aconcagua. Photo Marzena Wystrach Marchowska. Posted on their Facebook page.