On January 23 of this year, five indigenous Aymara women from Bolivia known as “The Climbing Cholitas” reached the peak of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Southern and Western hemispheres. Having long worked as cooks and caretakers for the primarily male climbers who visit the region, they hiked the summit for themselves wearing the wide pollera dresses, bolero hats, and colorful shawls traditional to the women of La Paz. Until recently, the Aymara were systematically marginalized in society, denied service in restaurants and shops, and prohibited from certain public spaces. Now, emboldened by the decade-long influence of Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president, and their growing socio-economic power, they and other climbing ‘cholitas’ like them are reclaiming the pejorative as a term of endearment. Through their mountaineering, they celebrate their roots, challenge latitudes, and bring visibility to their cultural identity.
Directed by Yumna Al-Arashi
For Vogue Mexico's 20th Anniversary Issue