Chacaltaya Glacier

El Alto, Bolivia

Melted 2009

The Disappointed Tourist: Chacaltaya Glacier, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Chacaltaya Glacier melted away in 2009, six years earlier than scientists had anticipated, due to the increased pace of climate change. It was once the world’s highest ski resort. It was part of the Tuni Condioriri mountain glacier system which provides water for the people of El Alto and La Paz and also feeds the local hydroelectric plants. I don’t know the source of the photograph on which the painting is based.

I picked the glacier in Bolivia out of pure vicarious pleasure — my dearest lovely twin boys traveled there to 5000 metres above sea level to the place where the glacier had melted away to see the disused ski lift – they were sending back pictures for me to learn of a place I could never got to. I was so proud and excited to learn from them – already flown from the nest and showing me how well they could explore. So sad that climate change has taken effect so drastically fast. In the eighties people were skiing there. 30 years later, nothing. Alexandra S.