The ice minding days are numbered;
just ask world famous Baltazar Ushca the last "iceman" of the Chimborazo.
Why is this man famous?
Could it be because of multiple divorces?
Could it be because of public scandals? Definitely, not.
No. He is famous for something that rarely is recognized.
Hard work! Baltazar is an example of the hard working people of Riobamba and Ecuador.
He learned the art of ice-minding at age 15, from his father, who was an "Iceman" himself.
Ice-minding is as much physical work as it is spiritual; Baltazar actually asks the volcano for permission and protection before he removes any ice from it!
This 64 year old man has been climbing the Chimborazo twice a week for ice, for over 49 years now!
For years he has climbed the same volcano and has said he will keep doing it "as long as God gives him the strength to do so".
Baltazar is offended referred to as "the grandson of the Chimborazo".
Countless people from all over the globe have travel to Ecuador, to film Baltazar climbing the Chimborazo and then selling the ice in markets and plazas.
He even received an award in the United states but denied to travel on his families petition.
While you're in Riobamba you will notice his image on many billboards and other forms of advertisement.
When you travel to Riobamba and wish to meet Baltazar, come to the market La Merced on Saturdays and he will gladly take a picture with you!
Of course as every celebrity his image has a price! Be sure to give him a "tip" to take his picture, five dollars seems reasonable but feel free to give more if you like.
Legend has it that many "icemen" had the habit of sacrificing black guinea pigs at the foot of the Chimborazo so that the luck, accompanied them in the ascent.
Baltazar on the other hand has never given any hint of doing this. Good for him and good for the guinea pigs!
I leave you with the grandson of the Chimborazo's famous farewell.
"Don't you forget about me... I am Baltazar Ushca The last Iceman of Ecuador."