It’s a sad day when the world’s highest lift accessed skiing is forced to shut down due to premature glacial melting. Chacaltaya, a peak located in Bolivia about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from La Paz, stands at an impressive 5,395 meters (17,785 feet) and offered the worlds tallest turns. The resort prided itself as being the first in many regards, just check out the facts:
- First rope tow in South America (first installed in 1939 using a car engine)
- Tallest Lift Accessed terrain in the world (an impressive 17,785 foot peak)
- Closest resort in the WORLD to the equator (16° Latitude)
- Farthest ski area to the North in South America
- Held title as only South American resort outside of Argentina and Chile
The 18,000 year old glacier began it’s meltdown in the mid-1980’s and was predicted to vanish completely by 2015. It has since dissolved a full 6 years before it’s estimated disappearance. Only on banner years is Chacaltaya able to open, and even on the biggest of years they are only able to open a meager 600 foot stretch of snow (think Boreal in October).
Chacaltaya is a popular destination for aspiring “mountaineers” as you can literally drive almost the entire way to the summit (a very narrow, highly dangerous single lane road weaves it’s way up the peak and stops a mere 660 feet from the top) . Talk about an easy 17k (almost 18) foot peak to bag. Hop in your supped-up Range Rover or your horse drawn cart (depending on you style), rally to the top, and a quick stroll of less than 1000 vert places you on top. Now that’s my kinda mountaineering!
Seriously human beings of the world, what are we going to do? Push for change in the way we lead our lives? Or continue to let resorts close prematurely with diminishing winters and a diminishing ozone layer due to our fossil fuel fetish?
Global Warming and it’s impact on skiers: