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Sunchuli Pass: Lord Nerd Beta

Sunchuli Pass

Sunchuli Pass: Lord Nerd Beta

April 7, 2015 | Information & Education

Information & Education with regards to the Sunchuli Pass expedition.

Sunchuli Pass: Lord Nerd Beta

I II III IV V VI

I Sunchuli Pass: Route Prospectus

We went to Bolivia because of the mines.

 

Everywhere else in the world roads go where roads go and trails go where trails go. There is very little confusion about which is which, and it’s clear where one ends and the other begins. Roads are wide, paved or graded, and maintained to some degree. Trails get rad. In Bolivia, because of the mines, the situation is more fluid.

 

If gold was discovered on the top of Mt Whitney, and California didn’t give a fuck about large scale mining and environmental stewardship because it was the poorest country in South America, somebody with three snow shovels lashed to the front of a minivan would figure out how to build a road to the top. Now imagine thousands of Whitneys, only 40% taller, steeper and more rugged. That’s the Cordillera Apolobamba.

That’s why we went to Bolivia. To ride a network of the world’s most ambitious, ludicrous roads. Roads that defy physics. Roads that weave throughout an ancient and venerable Alpine Wonderland that is currently transitioning into to Tolkien’s Mordor.

II Route Map

III Bike Setup
Art by Greg Davis

Sunchuli Pass: Lord Nerd Beta

IV FYI
Basic/Assorted Tips

  1. Before you visit Bolivia you will need a Yellow Fever shot. You should know that this means putting Yellow Fever eggs into your blood stream. Neat.
  2. The La Paz airport is a Hot&High airport. This means that landing and taking off are extra challenging. Our research shows that American Airlines is the only international carrier that flies into La Paz, the story goes that AA execs were busy doing blow during the airport draft because they got stuck with La Paz. The airport feels like it was converted from a bus station, not necessarily desirable.  The good thing is that their planes are old, like wall paper, cigarette lighter, and VHS tapes old, so the vibe, the whole experience, is at least consistent.
  3. If your like us, when looking of hotel’s in La Paz you will search for the place that CIA operatives, Mineral Barons, and Dignitaries –both foreign and domestic– choose to stay. But you don’t need to. Just stay where we stayed, Hotel Rosario.
  4. Our average daily elevation was over 14,000 feet. For perspective, the highest point in the contiguous United States is Mt Whitney at 14,505 feet. It’s so high, and therefore so special, compared to everywhere else in America it warrants a built-in mountaintop guestbook—generally speaking you climb up, sign the guest book, take a topless selfie and leave as soon as possible before the weather or an aneurysm or HAPE kills you. There were no mountaintop guest books in Bolivia, if there were our progress would have been greatly impeded.
  5. Water is abundant. There is water basically everywhere. Technically speaking, you can filter and drink it and survive. We didn’t. We bought and packed ALL of our water. Everywhere else in the world, once you get above a certain elevation, say 11,000 feet for example, the water is relatively potable and/or at least clean enough to filter. Not in Bolivia. No matter how high you go there is always a mine/agriculture/livestock/human-latrine above you. There are small towns and campamentos everywhere you go, and almost all of them sell water. Note: sometimes the only water available will be pepsi flavored. Win some, lose some.
  6. To mitigate Bolivia’s TTM (Trash, Turds, Mud) problem, carry lots of quality antibiotics.
  7. Know Spanish, at least some of it.
  8. Bolivian’s love drinks in bags – they have a storage vat full of your drink, it then goes bucket, ladle, pour in a plastic sandwich bag, include a piece of fruit, tie in and knot, and Bob’s your uncle. 

  9. We thought Shoulder Season (April and May) was the period of time during the transition from rainy to dry season. That’s why we went when we went. It turns out Shoulder Season is the period of time during the rainy season when the precipitation fluctuates throughout the day—based on elevation, time of day, prevailing weather patterns, etc.—between rain, sleet, hail and snow.
  10. Laying down and/or sleeping at extreme elevation is painful and difficult. And, sometimes, impossible. It’s a lot like trying to fall asleep in the middle of a panic attack or five-minute mile. To properly prepare for a trip to Bolivia we recommend learning to sleep standing up.
  11. I know you know this, but this is a cash society. Outside of La Paz, be prepared to pay for everything in cash.
  12. While traveling it makes sense to separate your money and valuables into two different piles. One pile is For Steal; these are things you’re prepared to part with if it becomes necessary. For Steal things are to be kept on your immediate person and should be easy to access. The other pile is Not For Steal; passports, the bulk of your cash, cameras, your talisman, etc. Not For Steal things should be hidden in deep recessed places and kept out of sight.
  13. DON’T carry your water bottles on the outside of your bike or bags due TTM. Or else.
  14. The movie Avatar is based on Bolivia, if it’s not a well know fact, it should be.
  15. The Cordillera Apolobambas are closer to the moon than they are to sea level. Hey, facts are facts.

V Basic Packing List

Category
Food
Item
Qty
Suggested
Dehydrated Meals
1/day
Mountain House, assorted—Pro-Pak is preferred
Instant Oatmeal
2/day
Pick your favorite—hot food in the morning is a lifesaver
Bar #1
2/day
CLIF Mojo
Bar #2
2/day
CLIF Athlete Series Squeeze Tubes (Banana Mango w/ Coconut and Margherita Pizza)
G.O.R.P.
3oz/day
Homemade or bulk
Candy
3oz/day
Haribo Gummy Bears
Chips
2oz/day
Kettle Sea Salt or Salt & Pepper, pre-crushed
Hot Chocolate
1/day
Swiss Miss
Coffee
3/day
Stumptown, ground for pour over or with a grinder, in an airtight container
Category
Clothing (Bike)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Padded Bib Shorts
1
Specialized SWAT
Stretch-Woven Overshort
1
Mission Workshop Stahl
Gloves
1
Specialized BG Ridge
Socks
3
Icebreaker Merino
Shoes
1
Specialized RIME Expert
Helmet
1
Specialized S3 Mountain
Shell
1
Mission Workshop Meridian
Down Jacket
1
Mountain Hardwear Ghostwhisperer
T-Shirt
1
Mission Workshop Linear Merino
Riding Hat
1
Bolivian tapestry baseball cap
Rain Pants
1
KUIU Chugach NX
Category
Clothing (Camp)
Union Suit
1
Poler Stuff/Airblaster Merino
Underwear
2
Icebreaker Merino
Long Underwear
1
Icebreaker Merino
LS Baselayer
1
Icebreaker Merino
Camp Hat
1
Your favorite beanie/toque/skull cap/etc.
Camp Shoes
1
Slides or Bolivian House Slippers
Liner Gloves
1
Wool or synthetic
Camp Shirt
1
Cotton tee
Camp Shorts
1
Lightweight and quick drying
Category
Gear (Bike)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Seat Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion
Frame Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket
Handlebar Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket MCA
Backpack
1
Mission Workshop Hauser
Small Hydration System
1
Non-leaky
Mini-tool
1
Specialized EMT PRO MTB
Patch Kit
1
Rema, duh.
Tubes
2
FRESH, not patched
Tire Levers
2
Specialized or whatever is closest
Bottles
1/place you can fit one
Whatever you've got
Mini Pump
1
Specialized Air Tool Flex
Category
Gear (Camp)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Tent/Shelter
1
Snow Peak Lagos
Sleeping Bag
1
Mountain Hardwear Phantom
Waterproof Stuff Sacks
Several
Sea to Summit EVAC (you need at least one for your sleeping bag)
Sleeping Pad
1
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite
Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool
1
SOG
Headlamp
1
Snow Peak Mola, with NEW batteries, not ones from your smoke alarm
Cup
1
Snow Peak Ti
Spork
1
Snow Peak Ti #sporklife
Bandana
1
Yonder Journal or Manual for Speed
Teeth Stuff
1
Brush twice daily and floss, alright?
Book
1
My Struggle by Karl ove Knausgaard
Lighter
2
Bics, inside ziplock
Sunscreen
1
MAX SPF, waterproof
Lip Balm
1
Whatever is in the medicine cabinet, MUST have SPF though
Sunglasses
1
Oakley Frogskins
Repair Kit
1
Homemade, with sleeping pad patches, needle/thread, etc.
Sharpie
1
Roll some Gorilla Tape around it
Wet Wipes
1 soft pack
Small, soft, moist, angelic, essential
Category
Gear (Bike, Shared)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Spare Parts Bundle
1
Chainring bolts, bailing wire, spokes, pliers (if no multi-tool), brake pads, assorted nuts & bolts, tire boots, zip ties.
Category
Gear (Camp, Shared)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Water Filter
1/2-3 people
Sawyer Squeeze (or Mini), WITH the backflush syringe
Soap
1 small bottle
Dr. Bronner's Almond
Stove
1/2-3 people
MSR Whisperlite International (necessary in many countries with limited fuel options)
Fuel Bottles
Variable
MSR 30 oz bottles, conduct tests at home based on your specific cooking schedule to determine amount needed
Cord
50ft
Paracord
First Aid
1/2-3 people
Homemade, don't bring stuff you don't know how to use

VI Sunchuli Pass Crew

yonderjournal_deadreckoning_sunchulipass_beta-69
James Crowe, Whistler, British Columbia.
yonderjournal_deadreckoning_sunchuli_dayone_crew-2
Kyle Von Hoetzendorff, Portland, OR.
yonderjournal_deadreckoning_sunchuli_dayone_crew-3
Daniel Wakefield Pasley, Portland, OR.
FROM THE YONDER JOURNAL STORE
Dead Reckoning: Sunchuli Pass Print
$30.00

Single, limited edition of 30 prints. Art by Jon Bailey. Screen printed by hand in Brookyln, NY by LQQK Studio. Shipping in 4-6 weeks.

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Additional Support for this Project was Provided By Clif Bar SRAM Porcelain Rocket Mission Workshop Mountain Hardwear Oakley Snow Peak Stumptown Poler