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An All-Woman Climbing Team in the Andes

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Interviews, News, Sports, Uncategorized | 1 comment

An All-Woman Climbing Team in the Andes

Spread the News:ShareMujer Montaña—“Woman Mountain” in Spanish—participated in a recent project of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), in which women climbers from Latin America and Europe carried out ascents of peaks in two mountain ranges in the Bolivian Andes. They established mountaineering records, achieving first all-female ascents and opening new routes. They met another goal as well,  promoting exchanges between people of different cultures and worldviews. And, in their distinctive way, they built awareness of mountains in the context of climate change—a key goal of the UIAA’s Mountain Protection Award Platform, which supported the project. This project, supported by a number of government agencies and tourism firms in South America and Europe, brought together the members of Mujer Montaña, a Latin American group founded in 2013, with representatives of the Women’s High Mountain Group of the French Federation of Alpine Mountain Clubs (a UIAA member since 1932). In total, four women from South America and eight from Europe took part in the project. The group started out in the Quimsa Cruz range on 28 July, staying there through 7 August. Traveling from their base camp at 4,400m, they climbed a new route up Torrini (5800 m). The second stage in the Cordillera Real, from 10 to 19 August, included ascents of Chachacomani (6100m), Janq’o Uyu (5520m) and Jisk’a Pata (5510m). The final stage, in the city of La Paz, involved a meeting on 22 August with students at the Catholic University of Bolivia, discussing issues of mountain protection, climate change and glacier retreat. On the last day, 23 August, they participated in a program with teachers and schoolgirls which linked climbing and self-esteem, and addressed issues of female empowerment. Carolina Adler, the president of the UIAA Mountain Protection Program, took part in the Janq’o Uyu ascent, as well as the last two days in La Paz. The group is preparing a documentary film about their expedition, and preparing their next climbs, scheduled for November, which will take place in Ecuador. And they are waiting for the selection of the 2016 UIAA Mountain Protection Award winner. That will be announced October 14 in Brixen, Sudtirol, Italy during the 2016 UIAA General Assembly. GlacierHub interviewed Lixayda Vasquez, one of the participants in the project. Vasquez comes from Cusco, Peru. In addition to Spanish, she also speaks Quechua, a major indigenous language of the Andes. GH: What do you see as the significance of all-woman climbing expeditions? LV: I think that what is most important is to stop seeing mountains as a place where only strong men, the ones with “big muscles,” can go. In recent times, many women in my country have wanted to explore new experiences for themselves, experiences which take them outside their comfort zone. They leave this zone, filled with myths and a whole machismo complex. And they discover that when they go outdoors, they enter a wonderful world where they never feel alone, because they are connected with nature. It’s not necessary to go to the mountain in expeditions that are composed only of women, or only of men. The best way is for men and women to complement each other. We can remember that men and women are parts of the same world. And we can both bring our distinct contributions to make this world better.   GH: As a climber who speaks Quechua, have you ever used Quechua on an expedition? LV: Quechua once saved my life. I was with a group of friends from the climbing club in Cusco. We were trying to ascend Chicón, a snow peak in Cusco. It was already dark when we...

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Photo Friday: World Nomad Games Held in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: World Nomad Games Held in Kyrgyzstan

Spread the News:ShareThe World Nomad Games, held in Kyrgyzstan on September 3-8, drew participants from 40 countries, most of them from former Soviet Union. Competitions were held in over 20 different sports, including archery  and javelin throwing, horse racing and several kinds of wrestling (some between individuals who stand in a ring, another between mounted riders).  A sort of polo played with the headless body of a dead goat, known in Afghanistan as buzkashi and as kok-boru in Kyrgyzstan, is a particular favorite. A board game, toguz, somewhat similar to chess, is a less physical form of competition. This event was the second World Nomad Games, following the first event in September 2014. This year’s event, like the earlier one, was held at Cholpon-Ata in Naryn Province of Kyrgyzstan, a small town on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, with striking views of the glacier-capped peaks of the Tien Shan. These photographs demonstrate the vigor of the nomad traditions and the excitement of the participants. They document the importance of horses in nomad cultures, and demostrate other skills as well that have developed over the centuries among the pastoral populations who inhabit the high-elevation grasslands, many of them watered by glacier melt. This girl from the World Nomad Games. pic.twitter.com/14b6NlAy2L — Mimsy (@RiffRaff1971) September 16, 2016     Экинчи дүйнөлүк көчмөндөр оюндары аяктады https://t.co/0DE0RUjUY2 — BBCKyrgyz (@bbckyrgyz) September 9, 2016   Spread the...

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Roundup: Ice Filing, Seas Falling, Rivers Flooding

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Experiences, Featured Posts, Roundup, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Ice Filing, Seas Falling, Rivers Flooding

Spread the News:ShareThis Week’s Roundup: Glaciers are being collected in Antarctica, “quietly transforming the Earth’s surface” and causing floods A team of scientists, aware of the need to obtain ice cores from threatened glaciers, are working to create a glacier archive bank in Antarctica From CNRS News:  “By capturing various components of the atmosphere, ice constitutes an invaluable source of information with which to examine our past environment, to analyze climate change, and, above all, to understand our future. Today, the science of ice cores lets us study dozens of chemical components trapped in ice, such as gases, acids, heavy metals, radioactivity, and water isotopes, to name but a few…” “We plan to store the boxes in containers at a depth of 10 meters below the surface in order to maintain the glacier cores at an ambient temperature of – 54°C. The Antarctic is in fact an immense freezer with an ice sheet up to 4 kilometers thick, and is far removed from everything; in addition, it is not subject to any territorial disputes. The subterranean chamber will be large enough to house samples taken from between 15 and 20 glaciers.” Read on here.  Study finds that ancient melting glaciers are causing sea levels to drop in some places From Smithsonian Magazine: “But a new study out in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows that in places like Juneau, Alaska, the opposite is happening: sea levels are dropping about half an inch every year. How could this be? The answer lies in a phenomenon of melting glaciers and seesawing weight across the earth called ‘glacial isostatic adjustment.’ You may not know it, but the Last Ice Age is still quietly transforming the Earth’s surface and affecting everything from the length of our days to the topography of our countries.” For the full story, click here. Glacial flood emerges along Iceland’s Skaftá river From Iceland Magazine: “A small glacial flood is under way in Skaftá river in South Iceland. The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) warns travelers to stay away from the edge of the water as the flood water is carrying with it geothermal gases which can be dangerous….The discharge of Skaftá at Sveinstindur is presently 270 cubic metres per second. The flood is not expected to cause any downstream disruption.” Learn more about the flood by reading more here.         Spread the...

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Roundup: Old Tibetan drawings, new photos from land and sea

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Roundup, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Old Tibetan drawings, new photos from land and sea

Spread the News:ShareThis Week’s Roundup: A monk’s drawings and photos from land and sea Drawings from the 1850s provide detail on Tibetan history and culture From British Library blogs: “The drawings in the British Library’s Wise Collection probably form the most comprehensive set of large-scale visual representations of mid-nineteenth century Tibet and the Western Himalayan kingdoms of Ladakh and Zangskar. These drawings were made in the late 1850s – at a time when the mapping of British India was largely complete, but before or around the time when Tibet began to be mapped for the first time by Indian Pundits.”  Depicting landscapes, buildings, people and many activities, this collection “reflects a complex interpretation of Tibet commissioned by a Scotsman and created by a Buddhist monk. The result of their collaboration represents a ‘visible history’ of the exploration of Tibet.” Click here to learn more about these striking images and the research on them being conducted by Dr. Diana Lange of Humboldt University, Berlin. Elephant seals document impact of glacier melt on ocean circulation From Nature Communications: “New observations from instrumented elephant seals in 2011–2013 … provide the first complete assessment of the formation of dense water in Prydz Bay off Antarctica.”  Until recent, large flows of this dense water have contributed to the formation of a layer of water,  known as Antarctic bottom water, which contributes to global ocean circulation. This new work documents the importance of ” freshwater input from the Amery Glacier and Amery and West Ice Shelves … and highlights the susceptibility of Antarctic bottom water to increased freshwater input from the enhanced melting of ice shelves, and ultimately the potential collapse of Antarctic bottom water formation in a warming climate.” Click here to read more about the valuable data provided by elephant seals New images depict water conflicts in post-Soviet Central Asia From Foreign Affairs: “The relations of the five former Soviet Republics in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are, more often than not, defined by water. ” Tensions have increased “since the dissolution of the Soviet Union over a quarter century ago.” Moreover, “there is one glaring issue: the region’s glaciers, the source of huge and once predictable water supplies, are melting at record rates.” Click here to see the striking images of water use and misuse in Central Asia, and to learn the historical background of water conflicts Spread the...

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Photo Friday: The Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: The Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Spread the News:ShareI traveled recently to the Cordillera Blanca, the mountain range in Peru with the largest concentration of glaciers in the world’s tropics. The Peruvian National Institute for Research in Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, INAIGEM, invited me to participate in a forum, and helped me visit several rural communities. I’ve written other posts about the forum, a visit to a lake with a high risk level for outburst floods, and a trip to a research area in a national park. I include here other images–of people and towns, as well as of mountain landscapes–that didn’t quite fit into the topics of the other posts. I hope that these convey some aspects of daily life in this beautiful region as it undergoes dramatic change. I hope as well that the images convey the deep connections of people to the region. Huascaran with telecom tower in foreground Town of Huaraz Shopkeeper and children in Copa Grande Workers' camp near dam at Lake Palcacocha Tower of church of La Merced, Carhuaz Meadows and forests in Copa Grande Guinea pigs on way to fiesta Palcaraju Glacier Man with two shaved ice cones Spread the...

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Peru Conference Calls for More Work on Climate Change, Disaster Risk

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Adaptation, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Peru Conference Calls for More Work on Climate Change, Disaster Risk

Spread the News:ShareA major international forum this month in Peru has resulted in calls for strengthening research capabilities and for programs in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It also had demonstrated the need for greater public participation and the development of new financial mechanisms to support these activities. It showed the importance of flexible governance systems that can draw on emerging research and on growing citizen engagement with environmental issues. The scientific forum’s focus on climate change in the mountains took on particular meaning, as it was held in Huaraz, a  a small Peruvian city located at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, a major glacier-covered range. The forum, held Aug. 10-12, specifically centered on climate change impacts in mountains, with particular emphasis on glacier retreat, water sustainability and biodiversity. A new Peruvian organization, the National Institute of Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, known by its Spanish acronym INAIGEM, organized the forum, with support from a number of other organizations. The forum’s more than 1,400 participants came largely from Peru, but also included a substantial number of scientists, policy experts and agency staff from 18 other countries.  They met in Huaraz, attending plenary lectures in the morning and breaking into smaller groups in the afternoon for topical sessions and discussion groups, which considered specific recommendations for action. These recommendations led to two final documents. The forum produced a set of eight conclusions and a final declaration, both presented to the participants, a number of public officials and the media by Benjamin Morales, the president of INAIGEM. Researchers from the natural and social sciences reported  on water availability and natural hazards in the Cordillera Blanca and other mountain ranges. Jeff Kargel of the University of Arizona reported on the connections between earthquakes and glacier lake outburst floods in the Himalayas and the Andes. Bryan Mark of the Ohio State University discussed research methodologies to measure “peak water”—the point at which the contribution of glacier meltwater causes a river’s flow to reach its highest levels, after which the glaciers, smaller in size, contribute less water to the streams.       Several talks traced links between ecosystems and water resources. They showed the importance of wetlands in promoting the recharge of groundwater and in maintaining water quality. The latter role is particularly important, because as glaciers retreat, new areas of rock become exposed to the atmosphere. As these rocks weather, minerals leach into streams. Since these wetlands are important grazing areas for peasant communities, they raise challenging issues of coordination between communities and agencies charged with environmental management.    Many speakers focused specifically on this management, stressing the importance of the coordination of scientists and other experts, policy-makers, and wider society. Carlos Fernandez, of UNESCO, stressed the importance of water governance systems that integrated social, economic and environmental sectors, rather than relying on market-driven approaches. Others examined financial mechanisms, such as the payment for ecosystem services and the expansion of user fees for water and other resources. GlacierHub’s editor Ben Orlove spoke of the cultural importance of glaciers, and of the role of glaciers as symbols of social identity. The forum was sponsored by over two dozen institutions, including Peruvian agencies (Ministry of the Environment, the National Service for Protected Natural Areas, the National Civil Defense Institute, and the National Water Authority), NGOs  (CARE, The Mountain Institute, CONDESAN) and the international aid programs from Switzerland, US and Canada, as well as several mining firms in Peru. The critical role of mountain societies was signaled by a speech from Juan German Espíritu, the president of the peasant community of...

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