I am in Missoula, Montana, this week and yesterday I had a chance to talk with alpinist Conrad Anker. He joined me and other folks attending the 2010 SEJ conference on trip to Glacier National Park. Anker is most famous for his challenging ascents of the worlds highest mountains, including peaks in the high Himalaya, Patagonia, and Antarctica. He is also the climber that found the body of George Mallory in 1999 on Mount Everest (Read Anker’s account in The Lost Explorer). At 47, the Bozeman, Montana, resident now also includes environmentalist and citizen scientist among his chief occupations. Global warming is one of his greatest concerns, he said.
Standing on the shores of the McDonald River, Anker told journalists about a new joint project with Extreme Ice Survey to monitor ongoing changes to the glaciers of the Himalaya. A few months ago, Anker led a five-person team of climbers and photographers to install cameras in the Himalayas. It was a project directed by photographer James Balog of Boulder, Colo.-based Extreme Ice Survey. The five cameras are affixed to the sides of mountains. They take photos every 30 minutes and capture time-lapse images of the changing glacial landscape. Two of the cameras monitor the Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu ice fall, and two cameras are equipped with telephoto lenses and focus only on parts of the Khumbu ice. Another camera monitors Nare Glacier, on the south side of nearby Ama Dablam. EIS has cameras all over the world that monitor glaciers in Alaska, the Alps, Greenland, and Iceland.
At Thursday’s reception, Anker gave a talk about images from the EIS project. He showed a time-lapsed series of photos taken from the newly installed Himalayan cameras. Then he showed a historical image from the same location taken 50 years ago, which shows how ice has vanished from the south side of the Khumbu massif and how the glacier is now thin and sparse.
Anker is a member of The North Face climbing team.
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