“Even at first sight comparing the historical image with the view of the current glacier, you can clearly see the immense transformation of the landscape. The glacier, in fact, is about 200 metres lower, sunken between the two enormous moraines, also caved in following the great collapse of the glacial mass.”
Leaving the third highest peak on the planet behind, the team headed west, towards Jannu, an enormous peak of almost 8,000 metres, connected to Kangchenjunga with a long ridge. In front of the majesty of Jannu, Ventura shot another image, again in the same place Sella did more than a century ago.
“Everything matches with the historical photograph except the front of the glacier, which is now more than a kilometre off compared to its 1899 position. Also, from the comparison of the photos, you can see how the glacier has receded by more than 200 metres inside its lateral moraines, which, being rocky debris, have remained more or less in the same position. The results of the comparison are shocking; no words can describe it”
After completing their surveys of Kangchenjunga and Jannu, between the end of June and the beginning of July, the fifth expedition of “On the Trails of the Glaciers” headed toward Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet. The base camp for the “rooftop of the world” is constantly over 5500 metres, an elevation that makes even the simplest action tiring.
For this reason, the group decided not to proceed above 6,000 metres, as planned, and decided to concentrate on the next objective, Cho Oyu. Before leaving Everest, though, there was time to take a new photo of the Rongbuk glacier, located in the northern part of the summit.
“As we expected in most of the Himalayan glaciers, the loss of mass occurred in the thickness. In the middle of the main branch of the Rongbuk glacier, an enormous glacial lake has been formed, a clear effect of its surface melting. These lakes can create danger to the valley populations, because of dam breakages and resulting sudden flooding”
On its sides is the Gyarag glacier, also partly melted, creating a lake downhill. The area of Cho Oyu turned out to be very difficult to cross for the expedition and forced the team to constantly change plans, made even more complicated by unpredictable weather, by rough terrain and by a failure to reach an agreement with local operators.
In any case, also on Cho Oyu, Fabiano and his team managed to complete their photographic scientific mission, one of their last labours before starting – on 29 May – his return to the lush valleys of Nepal that open the way to Kathmandu and from there his departure again toward Italy, to test the impact of climate changes "On the Trails of Glaciers ".