Jose Camarlinghi

UIAGM Mountain Guide

Jose was born in the city of La Paz, Bolivia at 12,000 ft / 3,660 m above sea level. He and his brother would spend weekends and vacations walking through the Andean foothills that surround La Paz, hiking and pretending to be explorers sailing the high seas, climbing mountains, macheting through jungles and crossing sweltering deserts. When he read the account of Hermann Buhl surviving the first ascent of Nanga Parbat, he was in such disbelief that he decided to never risk his life climbing mountains! Some time later he accompanied his dad on a business trip to the Amazon, crossing the Andes on a bus before seeing the jungle. That trip, was the one that changed his mind about the mountains. He could not believe how big and powerful they were, and oh so beautiful! He embraced the call to climb mountains as a teenager and never looked back. Today he is part of a small cadre of Bolivia’s best mountain guides.

As luck would have it, the political and economic crisis in Bolivia offered no future when he began university studies so he left and took advantage of a German government initiative to train Bolivian aspirants as instructors and mountain guides. Jose embarked on a profession that would take him to some of the most remote and spectacular places on earth meeting countless adventurous people like himself from every corner of the world.

Under the accreditation of the German Alpine Club, he achieved his mountain guide certification in 1985. Soon thereafter, he was the founder of the Bolivian Mountain and Trekking Guides Association and was President from 2015 to 2018. By 2005, he was accepted to be part of the International Union of Mountain Guides UIAGM/IFMGA/IVBV and got his certification later that year. Today, he is still an instructor at the Bolivian School of Mountain Guides, a home-grown institution comparable to the French organization ENSA based in Chamonix, France.

As the years passed, he guided clients from all over the world to mountains in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico and New Zealand. Even though he had achieved tremendous success in his mountaineering career he felt that he needed to close the loop in his educational path as well, so he enrolled in the university and got his Masters Degree in Writing for Film and Television. He has since worked with teams from the BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and other film crews from across the globe. Currently he is making documentaries about local outdoor characters and is the host of the first mountain podcast in the región.

He has enjoyed mountaineering and ice climbing in Patagonia, the UK’s Lake District and Wales. He crossed the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap with skis and crampons and linked routes between Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre in Argentinian Patagonia. In the Alps he has climbed several minor peaks on the Mont Blanc massif and in the Himalayas, he did some classic treks and a few trekking peaks in Nepal.

In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Jose has traveled all the great mountain ranges of Bolivia. Some of his favorites are the remote Apolobamba, which he has done many times from north to south, including the western and eastern slopes. He knows the Quimsa Cruz Range best of all (south of the Cordillera Real) known for granite walls in the north and glaciated summits in the south with very few visitors. Here he has climbed a few un-named peaks and has made several first ascents there since 1987 when the first expedition to the range was organized by the German Alpine Club. Jose was one of those lucky souls along with a few other young Bolivians.

He still lives in La Paz with his wife and children (2 boys and a girl) and still guides high mountains but now is looking into even more remote regions where no one is guiding and where the only crowds are condors, vizcachas and wild vicuñas. He speaks fluent Spanish, English and French and a conversational level of Italian and German.