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Chacaltaya is famous for having the world's highest ski resort, at an altitude that leaves most skiers gasping for breath. The glacier on Chacaltaya served as Bolivias only ski resort. The resort is located just below the summit.
Chacaltaya is a mountain in Bolivia with an elevation of 17,785 ft (5,421 meters) above sea level. The glacier on Chacaltaya is one of the highest glaciers in South America, located about 35 kilometers (22 mi) from La Paz.
The glacier on Chacaltaya was believed to be as old as 18,000 years old, but over the last 70 years the glacier melted down. With most of the meltdown coming after 1980, due to missing precipitation and the warm phase of El Nino, resulted in its final disappearance in 2009.
The Chacaltaya ski resort is located about 35 km from the city of La Paz by a 90 minute bumpy bus journey, at a breath-taking altitude of over 17,000 feet (5,000m). The site was founded by the Club Andino Boliviano (CAB) in 1939 and once had a long ski run.
It was a British engineer, Raul Posnansky, and his fellow ski buddys, who built the first ski place and helped put skiing on the map in Bolivia before he died in an avalanche in 1945.
Due to the melting of the Chacaltaya glacier, skiing on the mountain has been limited and as of 2009 skiing is restricted to a 600-foot (180 m) stretch that sometimes receives sufficient snowfall for a run.
The ski equipment can be rented for around 30Bs and is very limited and of poor quality. The only time you can ski now is following a fresh snowfall.
However it is still fun to visit this mountain whether or not you plan on skiing. The place is also good for hiking, just make sure you have acclimatized to the altitude for a few days in La Paz before going to this place because it much higher than La Paz.
Chacaltaya is a great place to see tremendous views over La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and many other great views.
Some members of the Andean Club have talked about converting the old clubhouse into a place for hikers and mountain bikers or of transforming their lodge into a gymnasium where mountain climbers and other athletes could adapt to high altitudes.
A taxi or a minibus to there will cost around 210BS ($30)
There are also many tour agencies that charge around 70Bs ($10) for a visit to Chacaltaya combined with other attractions such as Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon)