Cerro Chacaltaya

The road to Cerro Chacaltaya, the world's highest ski resort

Cerro Chacaltaya is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 5.260m (17,257ft) above the sea level, located in the La Paz Department in Bolivia. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the country.

Located in the Cordillera Real of the Bolivian Andes, the winding road to the summit, also known as simply Chacaltaya, is unpaved. 4x4 vehicle required. It’s pretty narrow and steep. Accessibility is largely limited to the summer season. Starting from Nuestra Señora de La Paz, the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, the road is 22km long. Elevation profile can easily be divided in three parts: Close after El Alto the graveled road leads slowly up towards Zongo valley and to base camp of Mt. Huayna Potosi. After five kilometers the side road to Chacaltaya diverts. Profile becomes there a little more flat but subsequently very steep on the final five kilometers with an average grade of some 10%. Remember this is a mountainous area, climbing up a high mountain, with a notorius absence of oxygen. Altitude and extreme weather are always a factor.

The road to the ruined ski station was built in the 1930’s. It climbs up the steep rocky slopes to the lift area. Not a journey for the weak hearted ...... or a vehicle with poor steering or brakes! On reaching the end of the road at the resort, if you still have the energy when you make it to the ski station you can climb up on a path the 100m or so to the top of Cerro Chacaltaya. For the well acclimatized, this is a long, but not overly strenuous day trip on unloaded bikes. The views from the ski station are stunning – Huayna Potosi, Mururata and Illimani in the Cordillera Real, La Paz and El Alto to the south, and if you look hard enough a tiny bit of Lake Titicaca can be seen to the west.

What’s the world’s highest ski resort?

Located in the heart of the Andes, the summit hosted the world's highest piste and ski resort. When we think about where the highest ski resort on Earth lies, visions of Switzerland, Austria, France, & Colorado fill our minds. Reality is strikingly different. From 1939 to 2009, it held the title of the highest ski resort in the world. Furthermore, there was a restaurant and a chalet for tourists. Nowadays, however, nothing can be found at Chacaltaya, but blurred memories and an abandoned building.


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