By WOLFE SCHAEFER | Moonshine Ink
In May 1969, two local guys, Wolfe Schaefer and Heinz Heubner, took off in a 1953 GMC panel truck and set out on a 10,000-plus-mile road trip. They headed from Tahoe City down the Pan-American Highway to South America with the goal of skiing the volcanoes of Mexico and Ecuador.
The duo was believed to be the first people to ever ski Popocatépetl, a volcano outside of Mexico City. The feat landed them on the local TV stations. Another Mexican volcano, Pico de Orizaba, was erupting at that time and closed for safety reasons. Twenty years later, Wolfe returned to Pico de Orizaba and skied it from the summit.
In Ecuador they skied two volcanoes, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, both around 21,000 feet in elevation.
But their journey didn’t end there. They continued farther south into Bolivia, where their by-then-famous “Expreso trans Andino” GMC truck died. The pair continued traveling by bus and train, eventually reaching San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina where they worked as ski instructors for the season. Upon returning to the U.S., they settled down in Tahoe City where they still live today.