“The Last Ice Merchant” is a short documentary that tells the remarkable tale of Baltazar Ushca, a 67-year-old man who has been harvesting glacial ice by hand from Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador for the past 52 years. Once part of a thriving natural ice industry, Uscha is now the last practitioner of his trade. The 2012 documentary was directed by Sandy Patch.
Twice a week for over half a century, Baltazar Ushca has hiked up the slopes of Mount Chimborazo, the tallest mountain in Ecuador, to harvest glacial ice that covers the highest altitudes of this dormant volcano. In the past, up to forty ice merchants made the journey up the mountain to mine the ice; today, however, Baltazar works alone. Even his brothers, Gregorio and Juan, both raised as ice merchants, have retired from the mountain to find more steady work.