Mind. Blown.

The next day I pushed on to Chacas through lovely countryside, the dirt road finally giving way to the velvety-smoothness of asphalt for the final 11km or so.  It turned out to be a fairly big day, so I was glad that I hadn’t tried to push on through the day before.  The attractive but fairly quiet town of Chacas would be the launching pad for my assault on the Punta Olimpica the next day.

The fairly uniquely grassy Plaza de Armas…

The Punta Olimpica was ‘bypassed’ a few years ago with the construction of a tunnel but the old paved road still exists and is, for the time-being, still passable.  Fortunately, the asphalt runs all the way up to the tunnel at 4740m, the last 150m of climbing being on this fairly sketchy road.

I set off slightly disappointed as the peaks were shrowded in cloud for the first time in days!  The altitude certainly took its toll and I had to take frequent breaks but, on the plus side, the blue sky was winning its battle with the cloud…

Finally, I arrived near the top and turned off onto the dirt road.  The views were sensational…

A further hour of climbing on the dirt road deposited me at the pass itself, a new personal record of 4890m!


  1. Great pix and story line!
    Am I jealous? Would I survive? Would I get lost? Answer definitely “yes” to at least two questions…..
    What temp extremes have you been through?
    Keep going and look forward to next report
    All best wishes

    1. Thanks Chris – it’s been perfect riding weather so far. 20C or so during the day – hot sun but cool in the shade. Can get down to below zero at night but the sleeping bag has performed well so far! Bolivia could be a different matter…

  2. Campbell. this is superb. love reading your blog and the pictures are awesome.
    A shame you don’t have a picture of you holding your bike aloft at the top of the highest peak! but i guess you probably didn’t have the energy to lift 50Kgs or whatever the crazy weight of your bike is?
    The climb over the tunnel looks like great tarmac for road biking?

    1. Thanks Ed! Yep, a little too heavy to lift the bike! After my culling of superfluous gear, I think I’m down to about 43kg now!!
      Yep, it would be a fantastic climb on a road bike too if you went through the tunnel (there is a Strava segment for it!). There are plenty like it too – just quite geographically separated! If you knew the routes/terrain, you could do a great lightweight bikepacking-style tour, staying in hostels every night. Might need a gravel/adventure bike though! Euro 20?!!

  3. Another truly inspiring blog, with even more sensational pics of stunning clarity.
    The scale and steepness of those switchbacks are breathtaking – far surpassing the TdF equivalents.
    After all that effort, I hope you bought an ice cream for Sally too!

  4. Epic Campbell! You look like your having a great time! Those mountains look amazing!
    I defo need to get a theta as well! All about the 360s!

  5. Yikes you are starting to look proper Neanderthal !! Omg to wet tent and dodgy tum, gosh what a story you have every week compared to the 9-5 Groundhog Day slog – amazing and so brave, love your work!

    Stunning pics and hope you found beer on your birthday and had one or five for Ben X

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