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Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: August 3, 12:18 PM ET
Postcard from Bolivia


Editor's note: Today, Sweetgrass Productions dropped the trailer for their newest release, "Solitaire," which premieres Sept. 15 in Denver, Colo. The film will feature scenes filmed from two years of winter travel in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. Skier Kim Havell, who filmed with Sweetgrass in Bolivia this summer, writes this report.

If you are looking to ski powder, don't go to Bolivia. If you're looking for an adventure, then you've found your challenge.

As Sweetgrass Production's visionary Nick Waggoner shares, "When the west is no longer wild, where do you go? You head south. Down here there's still a lot of mystery, a lot of unknown. There are 6,000 meter peaks that have never been seen, and hundreds of miles of the darkest jungles right next to the driest deserts on earth ... When we set out to make 'Solitaire,' we wanted a challenge, and a process beyond our physical, mental, and creative abilities. If you know the outcome when you set out, it really changes the nature of the journey and the film."

Snapshots from the Sweetgrass crew in Bolivia.

When our team, Mike Brown, Ben Sturgulewski, Jim Harris, Alan Schwer, Kyle Harris, and myself, arrived at the 14,000-foot La Paz airport in early June, there was no doubt that we were winging it. With no set plan, a very rough idea of a storyline, and vague information on what could actually be skied in June, we set our first sights on the nearby high mountains. Over the month, we moved our focus across the Bolivian map from the steep glaciated faces of 6,000-meter Huayana Potosi (two hours from La Paz) to the mystical salt flats of Uyuni, culminating in the jagged volanoes of Sajama.

A month into our Bolivian skiing escapades, our Sweetgrass posse had bounced back from numerous gastro-intestinal disorders, an epic dentistry fiasco, stolen solar panels for in-field charging, near head-on car collisions, fried radio chargers, consistently cold showers, rounds of altitude-sickness, and evading late-night Bolivian-powder-stimulated hostel frolickers. Fueled by llama, alpaca, pasta, pizza and the ever-present Pringles and "Frac" cookie packets, we managed to integrate into our surroundings, capturing some varied, stunning landscapes and lots of high-altitude ski lines.

Meanwhile, Waggoner was filming his own action-packed ski segment in Peru simultaneous to our Bolivian mission, acknowledging that, "We knew these challenges existed before heading down there to tackle our third film. No one had ever made a full ski film there, spanning the length of the continent, and for good reason ... Locations are often extremely remote and dangerous, and at altitude. Snow is notoriously unpredictable. The wind and cold are unfathomable ... The sheer scale of the terrain is beyond daunting."