Climber Science Program

8:33 a.m. on July 19, 2014 (EDT)
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I am currently in Peru as one of the expedition leaders in the American Climber Science Program. We arrived here at the end of June and this year's program continues until late August. As I have posted here before, the scientists are studying the changes occurring in the Andes and elsewhere in the world as a result of changes in the climate. This includes characteristics of the air, soil, water, distribution of plant life, and effects on animal life, including domestic animals which in Peru are lowed to graze in the national parks.

To gather the data, scientist climbers gather samples from the valley floors to the highest summits.

This is supposed to be the dry season in the Andes. But this has been a year including the development of the El Nino phenomenon. Weather in the Cordillera Blanca has been very unsettled. Because of this there have been a number of accidents among climbers, though not of our team. Ueli Steck and his wife were avalanched off Artisanaraju last week. We met them as they were exiting the Paron Valley. A Canadian climber backed off Artisnaraju then was killed in an avalanche on Piramide. An American climber and his partner were struck by an avalanche of ice blocks on Piramide, with the partner killed. We hosted the surviving partner for a day and set up the contacts with Global Rescue (the insurance and rescue program for the American Alpine Club) as he was being evacuated by the local SAR team.

We did need 3 attempts on Maparaju before gathering samples of glacial snow and ice to its summit.

Over the next few weeks we have several conferences scheduled in towns along the Andes front. Changes in the climate are having significant effects on the Andean people, which include impacts on their crops and the potential for breakage of dams with flooding of towns (which has happened several times over the past years.

The ACSP is a 501c3 organization. 

4:20 a.m. on July 26, 2014 (EDT)
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We tried climbing in Cordillera Blanca region near the end of the season in the mid 1980s during an El Nino - didn't know of the significance of the climate cycle back then.  We got caught while advancing our line with most of our food back down at base camp.  Had shelter but not enough to eat for the duration of the storm.  It lasted ten days with brief breaks in the weather, just long enough to get under way, then forced back to shelter.  Eventually we were forced to down climb in bad weather, a frightful experience that eventually lead to me quitting high altitude climbing.  A few on the team sustained minor frost on toes.  The weather caught others off guard too; some of our team were compelled to assist getting other groups off the mountain.  Quite a few teams were in a similar fix.  Perhaps the old salts among the local will recall that year, they said back then it was "fantiastico!"


February 21, 2020
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