General information. Unseasonably early snowfall arrived late in the climbing season, substantially increasing the avalanche risk. Local guides say the climbing season is moving earlier each year. Last year the weather was almost continuously bad throughout September. The political situation is always an important consideration in planning a trip to Bolivia’s cordilleras. The February democratic elections saw unprecedented turnout and results. For the first time Bolivia elected an indigenous leader from a nontraditional party as president. Evo Morales from the MAS Party (Movimiento A1 Socialismo [Movement Toward Socialism]) won by a clear majority, surprising commentators and observers. The victory has given rise to a populist-socialist government, with strong ideological affiliations to Venezuela and Cuba, and has been a resounding rejection of the United States’ influence in Bolivian politics. Morales spectacular ascendancy from poverty to power brought initial stability to the nation. The frequent political demonstrations and strikes that in previous years paralyzed the nation were not a problem during the May-September climbing season, but political tensions have again surfaced, and a struggle for autonomy in the Eastern Provinces may lead to serious unrest in the years to come. Despite the stability during the climbing season, visitor numbers were below those in previous years. This may have been due to an unfair and often misleading press coverage given to Morales’s government.
Erik Monasterio, Bolivia/New Zealand