[meteorite-list] Last report from Bolivia

From: MARSROX_at_aol.com <MARSROX_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:43:28 2004
Message-ID: <12f.dbe2a2.287227a4_at_aol.com>

                 The Pending Civil War

The noon demonstration of thousands of protesters has just ended. People wer=
e chanting following the shouts of a man with a bullhorn. Drums were beating=
 to a rhythm like a person pounding on your door. Dynamite was going off lou=
dly every few seconds. The streets are still full of police in full riot gea=
r. Storeowners were gathering garbage to burn as "protection" against tear g=

Welcome to La Paz, the City of Peace.

Meanwhile, campesinos numbering in the hundreds are blocking the road north=20=
to Lake Titicaca and the road south to Oruro. Besides their physical presenc=
e on these two main roads, they are covering them with rocks and broken glas=
s. The military beat two protesters to death this weekend, their bodies show=
n on the nightly news. As the military chases the campesinos off the roads w=
ith tear gas, they simply reassemble at night elsewhere and block the road a=
gain. Since they=B4re throwing rocks and bottles at any vehicle trying to pa=
ss, all travel is stopped. Tourism, mountaineering, trekking are paralyzed.=20=
Spot food shortages are showing up in La Paz. All planes all fully booked fo=
r the weeks ahead as people are fleeing. Othewise, you can=B4t leave town. I=
t looks like it=B4s becoming class warfare, the priveledged people of La Paz=
 (Pacenos) v. the rest of the country. I feel like I=B4m living in a city un=
der siege.

                A Mountain Too High

Illimani towers over La Paz and dominates the skyline at 6,400m/21,400. Wedn=
esday last began my four day attempt at the summit.=20

After a three hour backroad, blockade-dodging thriller ride at cliff=B4s edg=
e with 1,000m/3300=B4 drops we began our walk-in to base camp (4,200m/15,000=
=B4-all altitude m/feet approximate). My mountain bag rode on the back of a=20=
mule. The next day we continued to high camp (5,200m/17,400=B4). At first th=
ere was a narrow 1m/4=B4ledge w/ a 100m/330=B4drop on loose slate to negotia=
te for about 100m/330=B4. Nothing about this in my guide. After scrambling u=
p rock for three hours we hit the glacier and put on the crampons and tied u=
p together. Three hours later we made high camp after following a steep jaw-=
dropping ridge. We had to use 12 belays of ice screws and other protection o=
n the way down here.

Five other teams had tents on the small plateau of high camp. It was snowing=
 and we were sleeping on ice For safety you did your bodily business within=20=
peeing distance of your tent.=20

Since we were making a midnite start for the top, bedtime was 7PM. A slight=20=
blizzard constantly rattling my tent kept me from sleeping. At the appointed=
 time I found that my respiration had frozen on the inside walls of my very=20=
small bivouac tent. As I squirmed around to dress, little flurries of ice fe=
ll on me. Embarrassingly, I had to be rescued by my guide. The tent door zip=
per was frozen solid from the inside as were all my water bottles.

The snow had stopped although the wind continued. Everyone=B4s headlamps cas=
t a wild glow as about 30 people and their guides headed up in mild -17C/0*F=
 temps. The first ridge was a killer, 50 degree slope that narrowed to 1m/3=
=B4towards the top. This was where 6 Chilean climbers died in 1989. In 2 hou=
rs I had made only 300m/1,000=B4progress and was faced with a 200m/660=B4dec=
line immediately followed by a deep technical crevasse and the 200m/660=B4re=
covery. We decided tha I wouldn=B4t make it in the allotted window of time -=
 too slow means frostbite danger. I wasn=B4t having an altitude problem, but=
 the motor was running and the wheels weren=B4t turning. Better to save ener=
gy for the descent - a period far more danger than going up as you=B4ve burn=
ed your adreneline and just want to be down.

Two climbers summited, one, an Australian now has eight 6,000m mountains to=20=
his credit. Knowing what it takes, I am in awe of his achievement.

Am I dissapointed to not reach my minimal goals of 6,000m/20,000=B4? I reach=
ed 5,600m/18,300=B4. Hanging off of the ice looking down a 60 degree incline=
 and a thousand feet of air on either side was exhilirating. Each person on=20=
the rope depends on the others to save their life in a fall. Teamwork and co=
ncentration are paramount and your focus must be transcendental. It{s the pu=
rest of experiences. You look down on high, snowy peaks. I don=B4t know what=
 could be better.

More good news may be forthcoming. Blaine has been back in Colorado for a we=
ek and has cut the rock. He writes me that pending thin section analysis, he=
 sees every indication that our stone is the first authenticate meteorite fr=
om Bolivia. =20

Un abrazzo ultimo(a last hug)from La Paz, Bolivia,

Kevin Kichinka
Received on Mon 02 Jul 2001 03:38:09 PM PDT

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