Bolivia's Cholita Climbers Summit Aconcagua

According to Aconcagua Online, a group of five Aymara indigenous women from Bolivia - known as the cholita* climbers - have summited Aconcagua (6961m) in the Argentinian Andes near the border with Chile. The women's ascent of the peak - the highest mountain outside of Asia - is a significant achievement nearly five years in the making, and was described as their ultimate mountaineering goal.

The cholita climbers challenging expectations.  © Great Big Story
The cholita climbers challenging expectations.
© Great Big Story

In 2014, a group of 11 cholita women decided to do some climbing of their own in addition to their work as cooks and porters for mountaineers on Huayna Potosi (6088m) outside the Bolivian administrative capital, La Paz. The group of women, ranging from ages 22 to 53, became social media sensations as they were pictured climbing with crampons and ice axes, but still wearing their billowing, brightly coloured traditional skirts and shawls.

The short-term goal for the women was to ascend eight peaks above 6000 metres, and their 'ultimate dream' - according to a Guardian report - was to climb Aconcagua.

Details about the ascent are limited, but reports that Lidia Huayllas Estrada, Dora Magueño Machaca, Ana Lía Gonzáles Magueño, Cecilia Llusco Alaña and Elena Quispe Tincutas safely summited Aconcagua on 23rd January, according to communications with the logistics team at their Base Camp in Plaza de Mulas (4300m).

The cholita climbers are one example among growing numbers of Aymara women who are pushing to shift perceptions of their capabilities and social standing. According to a BBC report, cholita women are increasingly moving from their traditional, domestic service roles to key positions in politics, business and the media, or participating in typically male-dominated sports such as wrestling and mountaineering.

*The word cholita is derived from the Spanish word "cholo" (chola for females) - meaning mixed-race or, pejoratively, "halfbreed" or "civilised Indian", but in the case of the Aymara women, it has been adopted as a badge of honour.

Watch a video about the climbing cholitas below, and find more photos here.

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25 Jan, 2019
That is superb. Good to see them pushing social boundaries. The video really made me smile.
25 Jan, 2019

What a marvellous story!

25 Jan, 2019



27 Jan, 2019


"an easy day out for a lady


29 Jan, 2019


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