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South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Occidental, Overview

Cordillera Occidental, Overview. Snow conditions were extremely poor in the Cordillera Occidental. Bolivia’s highest mountain, the extinct volcano Sajama (6549m), is normally a snow plod, but the 1998 season saw very few non-guided or guided groups summiting due to the length of time needed to climb a 40-meter, 60° ice gully to reach a huge and time-con- suming penitente field with spikes up to 1.8 meters high. Parinacota (6330m) was completely clear of snow on the east (normal route) side, leaving a massive amount of decidedly unpleasant-looking volcanic scree. Teams were failing on the Chilean (western) side of the mountain due to the length of time needed to get through the penitentes. No peaks south of Parinacota had any snow at all.

Yossi Brain, United Kingdom