Towards the Himalayan glaciers
Towards the Himalayan glaciers
“Tracking glaciers” is Fabiano Ventura’s scientific and photographic project, currently in its fifth expedition and tasked with providing a regular health check on the world’s biggest glaciers. Enel Green Power is proudly serving as his wingman as the expedition heads for the highest peaks of the Himalaya.
Glacier health is the litmus test for global climate change. Their abrupt melting is strictly linked to earth’s rapidly rising temperatures, a phenomenon which has spiraled out of control over the last century.
In order to study and understand how earth’s great glaciers are evolving, Fabiano Ventura and his team of scientists need to reach them to get pictures, the most effective way to make a direct comparison with the snaps taken by great climbers and explorers of the past.
“Today’s photographic evidence of glaciers is compared to the same pictures that were snapped decades ago, to portray in stunning detail the indisputable and ongoing effects of climate change.”
Enel Green Power backs “Tracking Glaciers” ever since Ventura’s first photographic venture headed towards the Karakoram range in 2009. Two years later, Ventura explored the Caucasus, followed by other expeditions in Alaska (2013) and on the Andes (2016).
This year, “Tracking Glaciers” pays homage to the grandest mountains of earth, the Himalayas, before writing the sixth and final chapter of this grand adventure with a 2020 trip around the Alps.
Chasing footprints of the past
The fifth expedition of “Tracking Glaciers” started out on late April with the goal of reaching the northern side of both the Everest and the Kangchenjunga, earth’s tallest and third tallest peaks, respectively.
The established route will end in June, retracing the steps of two glorious endeavors of yesteryear, like the 1899 expedition captained by British climber Douglas W. Freshfield with the famed Italian photographer Vittorio Sella, as well as the expeditions of the 20s and 30s by George Mallory and Edward Oliver Wheeler, among the first Britons to witness the grandeur of mount Everest with their own eyes.
“The next journey for Ventura and his team was planned by examining over 15000 ancient photographic prints from the days of those bygone endeavors, now part of London’s Royal Geographical Society’s collection.”
Among Nepal’s jungle
The expedition officially kicked off on 22 April with long days of airplane transfers that started in Rome only to end in the Nepalese hamlet of Badrapur.
After an adventurous crossing of Nepal’s lush woodland, the team reached the village of Taplejung, where a cook and a squad of porters joined the expedition.
The time was ripe for everyone to don their trekking boots to embark on a foot journey from Nepal’s jungle right to the doorstep of heaven, in the majestic Himalayan peaks. Crossing the Nepalese rainforest proved a fantastic opportunity to closely observe an ecosystem brimming with countless plant species, changing gradually as the trail snakes its way towards the highlands.
“The landscape that unfolded before the eyes of our explorers, valley after valley, proved to be a majestic spectacle. As the altitude was rising, so were the treetops of the conifers, over 30 metres tall and towering above all other trees.”
In sight of the glaciers
Climbing up a valley crossed by sherpas, right along the rapids of the river Ghunza, the group of explorers catched the first glimpse of the dramatic Himalayan peaks, before settling in the “Kanchanjunga Guest House”. This is where everyone got the chance to recharge their batteries, in a guesthouse totally powered by small-scale, low environmental impact, hydroelectric generators.
“The first ten days of the trek covered 75 km and a difference in altitude of 4400 m uphill and 2500 m downhill.”
With the rainforest well past them, the expedition is ready to embark on the final push to reach higher grounds.
The first stage is the Jannu glacier, standing on the Nepal - India border, at the base of its impressive peak towering over 7700 metres. Once the base of the mountain is reached, the goal for the expedition would be to camp in the exact place where Vittorio Sella took a picture of the glacier in 1899.
The climb towards the Himalayan great glaciers has just begun.