Hundreds of people participated in Cerro Pabellón, one of the country's most important energy projects, located at 4,000 meters above sea level, just five kilometers from Bolivia.
Andrés Wolf was one of them, who was responsible for the construction of this important project as Site Manager, but also was part of the human group that faced the difficulties that life at high altitudes entails.
They spent more than two years working at several thousand meters above sea level, where the body begins to present a series of symptoms mainly produced by lack of oxygen: "there is tiredness, nausea, dizziness. You get used to it after a year or two, but many people do not get used to it and it affects them day to day," explained Andrés.
The thermal oscillation is another factor to consider, because from the heat of the day, they went to the cold night temperatures: "this winter we had a record of temperature differences between day and night; in the day it reached a temperature of 18°C and at night it dropped to -29°C, which meant almost 50°C difference," mentioned Wolff.
But working at high altitudes not only requires physical, but also emotional, efforts. Workers stay away from their families for several days, in a remote place that does not have a telephone connection to be able to communicate with their loved ones. In this respect, André commented that "in reality, you get used to it. All of us who work in this business know that energy is generated in places far away from populated areas and we are accustomed to not being with the family from Monday to Friday.”
And being away makes moments of celebration such as national holidays or soccer games of the Chilean National Team become opportunities to meet as a team and celebrate: "we appeal to the most outgoing people to help us organize these kinds of celebrations. They are entertaining and innovative ways to celebrate," remarked Andres, stressing the effort and motivation of each one of the workers.
While Andres' testimony shows that work at high altitudes is not easy and has constant difficulties, this project transformed the heights of Cerro Pabellón into the home of a fantastic human team that successfully achieved the challenge of building Chile and South America’s first geothermal power plant.