Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mountaineers testify to warming's effect

by JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer Sat Apr 7, 6:36 PM ET

BEND, Ore. - Mountaineers are bringing back firsthand accounts of vanishing glaciers, melting ice routes, crumbling rock formations and flood-prone lakes where glaciers once rose.

The observations are transforming a growing number of alpine and ice climbers, some of whom have scientific training, into eyewitnesses of global warming. Increasingly, they are deciding not to leave it to scientists to tell the entire story.

"I personally have done a bunch of ice climbs around the world that no longer exist," said Yvon Chouinard, a renowned climber and surfer and founder of Patagonia, Inc., an outdoor clothing and gear company that champions the environment. "I mean, I was aghast at the change."

Chouinard pointed to recent trips where the ice had all but disappeared on the famous Diamond Couloir of 16,897-foot Mount Kenya, and snow was absent at low elevations on 4,409-foot Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak, in the Highlands of northwest Scotland. He sees a role for climbers in debating climate change, even if their chronicles are unscientific.

"Most people don't care whether the ice goes or not, the kind of ice that we climb on and stuff," he said. But climbers' stories, he added, can "make it personal, instead of just scientists talking about it. Telling personal stories might hit home to some people."

Alpine climbers are worrying about the loss of classic routes and potential new lines up mountains that are melting, from the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest and the Alps in Europe to the Andes in South America and the Himalaya in Asia.

Their anecdotes often reflect what science is finding, but with stories and pictures from places where most scientists aren't able to reach.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

get used to it, its not whether things are warming, but who's responsible and what can/should be done... the fact that this gets any press at all is appalling!