Tag Archives: chacaltaya glacier

As the World Warms, the Future of Skiing Looks Bleak

28 Dec

from Off the Road / Smithsonian.com

The lodge at Bolivia’s Chacaltaya Glacier was once the world’s highest ski resort—until the glacier melted away almost entirely in just 20 years. The lodge closed its ski facilities in 2009 and stands today amid a rocky, almost snowless moonscape. Photo courtesy of Flickr user ksfc84.

The lodge at Bolivia’s Chacaltaya Glacier was once the world’s highest ski resort—until the glacier melted away almost entirely in just 20 years. The lodge closed its ski facilities in 2009 and stands today amid a rocky, almost snowless moonscape. Photo courtesy of Flickr user ksfc84.

As polar bears watch their winter ice recede farther and farther from boggy Arctic shores each year, skiers may notice a similar trend occurring in the high mountain ranges that have long been their wintertime playgrounds. Here, in areas historically buried in many feet of snow each winter, climate change is beginning to unfurl visibly, and for those who dream of moguls and fresh powder, the predictions of climatologists are grim: By 2050, Sierra Nevada winter snowpack may have decreased by as much as 70 percent from average levels of today; in the Rockies, the elevation of full winter snow cover may increase from 7,300 feet today to 10,300 feet by the year 2100; in Aspen, the ski season could retreat at both ends by a total of almost two months; and throughout the Western United States, average snow depths could decline by anywhere between 25 and—yep—100 percent. Continue reading