Art/Culture

Ice without Scale: Photographs by Angeles Peña

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Ice without Scale: Photographs by Angeles Peña

Spread the News:ShareAngeles Peña grew up in the mountains of Argentine Patagonia, immersed in a landscape that she considers wild, hostile, and infinite– and changing. “The winters flee with speed and are gradually disappearing. The glaciers recede. Summers are hotter. The seasons seem to be less and less defined,” she reflected. Peña has spent the last three years traveling through what she calls the “beautiful, stunning, and wildly desolate territory” of Andean Patagonia, photographing glaciers. In her pictures, she seeks to present her subjects without a sense of scale, and capture the essential qualities of ice, cold, and water. Browse through the below slideshow of work from her series, “Aguas de montaña.” Angeles2 Aguas de montaña1 Angeles3 Aguas de montaña Angeles5 Angeles1 Angeles9 Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Yak Rugby

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Communities, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Yak Rugby

Spread the News:ShareKnown to many as the “roof of the world,” the Pamir Mountains are home to quite a few superlatives. But nothing in the Pamirs elicits quite as deep a gasp as the pastime of a group of ethnic Tajiks living in China’s Taxkorgan Autonomous County, near China’s borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Buzkashi, a popular game among many Central Asian communities, is a sport in which riders grapple on horseback over an inflated goat carcass. In attempting to wrest the goat away from other competitors, riders often fall into large scrums, contorting their bodies while trying to keep their horses upright. Many fall off their horses, and deaths are not uncommon. Buzkashi may in fact be the most dangerous game in the world. In Taxkorgan, a region dominated by curtains of clouds, rocks, glacier ice, and snow, it is played atop yaks one day each year.           Spread the...

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Shining on a Glacier: Girls on Ice

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Shining on a Glacier: Girls on Ice

Spread the News:ShareOne day last June, something rare took place on Interior Alaska’s Gulkana Glacier— a dance party. As a treat for the final day of Girls on Ice, a glacier-based science education program for teenage girls, instructors lowered each of the nine girls into a crevasse, two at a time, and they used ice axes and crampons to climb out. The day was chilly and the winds were picking up, and the girls started dancing to keep warm. “They were dancing and laughing and shining,” said glaciologist and Girls on Ice instructor Aurora Roth. “I want to hang on to that forever. That’s why I do what I do, to see girls shining in the outdoors.” Girls on Ice began in 1999 when a team of two instructors and five teenage girls spent a week exploring the South Cascade Glacier in Washington. In 2012, a group of graduate students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks decided to adapt the program to Alaska. Each June, eight or nine girls join up with female mountain guides, scientists, and artists to spend a week on the Gulkana Glacier studying glacial processes, creating art, and exploring themes from climate change to socially-prescribed gender roles. “The wilderness setting and single gender field team inspires young women’s interest in science and provides a challenging environment that increases their physical and intellectual self-confidence,” states the program’s mission statement. Pervasive and dangerous gender imbalances in the geosciences necessitate this focus on girls’ physical and intellectual self-confidence. M Jackson, a glaciologist and environmental educator, is troubled by gender dynamics in the sciences today. “While there are women in glaciology, it is not simply an issue of metrics, the number of women in the field, or the number of women-authored publications. I can tell you from personal experience that out in the field on glaciers, in years past, I have almost always been the only woman on the team. This is changing today,” she said. Joanna Young, one of the founders of the Alaska Girls on Ice program, seeks to instill a diverse skill set in each girl she teaches, and show them that there are many ways to view the world. A typical day for the girls might include monitoring a snowmelt experiment near camp, a painting lesson from a visiting artist, and practicing the technical skills that allow the girls to travel in rope teams through crevassed areas. “At the end, we want to look at one landscape and see it through many lenses— as a mountaineer, assessing how to get from Point A to Point B, and what gear she’ll need; an artist, seeing color and texture; and a scientist, asking, how did these mountains come to be? Why is this rock different from that rock?” This interdisciplinary approach resonated with Emma Apitzsch, a 2017 Girls on Ice student who lives in Talkeetna, Alaska, and is training to be a bush pilot and mechanic. Emma reflected, “Before Girls on Ice, I had never stopped and really looked at something from an artistic perspective. Through our different activities, I got to explore new ideas and possibilities to interpret what I was seeing.” The place-based science curriculum at the core of Girls on Ice also changed Emma’s perspective. “Already, I look at a mountain, the trees, a small plant…anything! I look at it a slight differently. I think and observe the ground I stand on a little differently too. What will it all look like in hundreds of thousands of years? Where will all of this be?” she said. “Looking through a science lens has made me...

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A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, News, Tourism | 0 comments

A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Spread the News:ShareGlacier water’s remarkable range of uses has just been expanded in a new direction: whiskey production. The Glacier Distilling Company, a locally-owned distillery located in Coram, Montana, next to Glacier National Park, uses glacier water in the production of their craft whiskeys. The distillery uses pure glacial water from the Northern Rockies and locally grown grains to produce an alpine whiskey that brings out the local flavors of the distillery’s surroundings. The company was founded in 2011 and has been steadily growing, with their production doubling each year. The distillery’s success has been attributed to their passion to produce the highest quality of whiskey. The genesis of alpine whiskey was during the cold winter of 2009-10 when Nicholas Lee, founder of Glacier Distilling, and a group of his friends, were convening around a fire in North Fork, Montana. As they were sipping on whiskey, the group began debating how they would get whiskey if faced with Armageddon. The simple answer – make it themselves. Glacier Distilling’s first product was an un-aged white whiskey called Glacier Dew. Lee was inspired by a story of a woman named Josephine Doody who built her own moonshine business in Glacier National Park in the 1920’s, straight through Prohibition. Lee, originally from North Carolina, was drawn by the allure of making homemade spirits. “We need to be self sufficient out here just in case!” Lee said in an interview with NBC Montana. As Lee’s business grew, the company’s liquor collection also expanded to 19 different products, including gin, vodka, brandies, absinthe and other liqueurs. Glacier Distilling is just six miles away from Glacier National Park, which hit a record breaking 2.36 million visitors in 2016. The park’s popularity attracts tourists and locals to the Coram area and the distillery. The company’s collection starts with a simple ingredient, glacier water. Lee told GlacierHub that the company “found an old barn with a good well on a glacial aquifer with pure, cold water, and started distilling.” The glacier water is later transformed into a multitude of infused liquors such as Glacier County Honey and Flathead Lake Cherries. Why use glacial water to make liquor? “Glacial water is considered to be purer, as it is frozen and then thawed, which removes some contaminants,” said Anthony Caporale, producer of “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking,”a music and comedy show about the history and science of cocktails and spirits, in an interview with GlacierHub. “Water absolutely affects the taste of the liquor, as it makes up 60 percent of what’s in the bottle (the other 40 percent being ethyl alcohol). That’s why distillers are so crazy-protective of their water sources.” But the question remains – how does one make whiskey with glacier water? Glacier Distilling relies on an old-school technique to distill their whiskey – fractional distillation. It’s a multi-step process where ethanol and water are separated due to the difference in boiling points, according to the company’s website. The company starts by mashing and fermenting the grain by cooking 500 lbs. of grain in 200 gallons of water in a mash tank. Later on, the cooled mash is transported into a fermentation tank for about 3-7 days. This allows for the yeast to consume a majority of the sugar, making the mash into a 10-12 percent ABV, alcohol by volume, which is a standard measure of how much alcohol is in a given volume, “distiller’s beer” or “wash.” Once the wash begins boiling, due to the difference in boiling points, alcohol (which boils at 173º F while water at 212º F) will start to boil out...

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Glaciers and the Rise of Nazism

Posted by on Jul 6, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Glaciers and the Rise of Nazism

Spread the News:ShareGlaciers and the mountains that convey them have come to symbolize purity— one which has been marred by glacial retreat. We long to return to a state in which glaciers aren’t retreating as a result of anthropogenic climate change, where the condition of the world aligns more closely with our belief in what it should be again. But, historically, glaciers and the mountains that convey them have also symbolized other, more insidious forms of purity. In a recent article in German Studies Review, Wilfried Wilms outlines the ways in which a flurry of German films and novels in the 1930s recast the glacier-rich Alps and region of South Tyrol as traditional German living space. Wilms focuses on works produced between 1931 and 1936, a time when German nationalist discourse was on the rise and support of a greater pan-German alliance between Germany and mountainous Austria was gaining widespread currency in the lead-up to the Nazi takeover of 1933 and annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938. By locating German speakers within alpine settings and showcasing their natural affinity to mountain climbing and glacier landscapes, filmmakers and novelists contributed to a discourse that sought to integrate the greater Germanic world by establishing a common set of uniquely German traits. In an interview with GlacierHub, Wilms described the roots of the notion of mountain and glacial purity in relation to both German racial and environmental ideals. “There is the discourse on elevation in Nietzsche’s ‘Zarathustra‘ on rising above the lowlands; ennobling the Self in its struggle with the mountains; the purity of snow and firn [an intermediate stage between snow and glacier ice], and its disconnectedness to the (soiled) realms below. After the defeat in World War I, the mountains become a place of individual, cultural and national renewal— a proving ground, a training ground for the youth and its future for Germany,” he said. Unlike “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which portrayed the horrors and banality of the first World War, German films after 1931 valorized war in ways that fed into the nation’s growing territorial ambitions. Historically, the mountainous region of Tyrol had been home to a mostly German-speaking, Austrian population— that is, before Italian irredentists got in the way. With the Axis defeat at the close of the first World War, South Tyrol was formally ceded to Italy in the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain. Over the next decade, Mussolini instituted a series of Italianization programs in an effort to reduce the Germanic cultural sway in the region. These programs were well known to the public in Weimar Germany, and Wilms argues that a crisis emerged for Germans: as ideas of pan-Germanism were taking hold, their German-speaking brethren were being pushed out of their homeland, a place that was felt through its Alpine features to be distinctively German. A spate of cinematic and literary portrayals of the Alpine War, fought between Austrian and Italian troops in Tyrol during World War I, became a means through which the German population was mobilized and militarized in the lead-up to the second World War. According to Noah Isenberg, a professor of culture and media at The New School, certain technical innovations also changed the way films were watched in Germany during this period. “In the early 1930s, thanks largely to the advent of sound (which came quite late to Germany), films tended to take advantage of recorded dialogue and elaborate musical scores. Berlin was known for its majestic picture palaces, with more than a thousand seats and ornate interiors, but in Germany’s smaller cities, audiences watched the films in mid-sized theaters, less...

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Photo Friday: A Visit to Volcano Museums in Iceland

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: A Visit to Volcano Museums in Iceland

Spread the News:ShareLike millions of other travelers, Gísli Pálsson found that his travel plans were stymied by the 2010 eruption of Iceland’s glacier-covered Mt. Eyjafjallajökull, which canceled transatlantic flights and generated a glacial meltwater flood. As a professor of anthropology at the University of Iceland, Pálsson responded to the inconvenience in a creative way– by starting a project called Volcanologues, in which he and others affected by the eruption share their stories. As part of Volcanologues, Pálsson recently visited two museums that opened after the eruption: the Lava Center at Hvolsvöllur, and the other on a farm named Þorvaldseyri, as part of the “Eyjafjallajökull Erupts” tour. Check out his pictures, read this piece he wrote for GlacierHub, and start dreaming up your own visit to learn more about this historic eruption. Watch footage of the glacial flood caused by Mt. Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption:         Spread the...

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