Friday, August 04, 2006

The beautiful and shrinking North Klawatti Glacier-

Here are some pics (not in order yet---) from Erin Pettit and crew's (Rob, Seth, Matt and me) survey of N. Klawatti Glacier in the N Cascades--- we gained over a mile in elevation (going down and scrambling was the hardest for my Ohio legs--- The views were stunning and Erin's work will likely further illustrate the extent of glacier retreat in this region.It started me how little snow there was in the accumulation zone of the N. Klawatti considering the heavy sn0wfall this winter. It was on average just a few meters deep... except in one depth probe, I found the snow to be 5, 6, no infinite meters... oh, wait that was a crevasse...
Glaciers are beautiful ---their treachery augments their allure.... After a long first day of hiking up, we spent the next day confined to our tents as sleet, snow and rain socked us in (a whiteout hovered above us blending glacier snow and ice with sky in one continous plane) --- on the third day navigated four glaciers, including lowering our packs over an arete and belaying ourselves from rock to ice. (One glacier was aptly named Inspiration, likely from the size of its gaping crevasses that inspired us to focus on steady footing). The fourth day we surveyed full force- two heading down to the N Klawatti ablation zone (where the glacier ice is exposed and the snow has melted) and me, Erin and Seth heading up into the accumulation zone. We completed around 10 total transects across the glacier.
On the final day we hiked 13 hours out (I was slow going out on the final descent, practicing on the bike path isn't quite the same...) I learned some new advice including trying to land gingerly on my feet rather than plodding on the descent... much like the rest step helps with going uphill this saves the knees on the descents. Also, I'm heading out to get some Crocs before Girls on Ice... lightweight plastic clogs with air holes that leave heals free to dry out after a long hike... these clogs weigh about the same as a pair of flip flops...

Can't wait to help Erin and CeCe teach the girls about glaciers!!! One more tidbit---on the way down the trail we ran into a crew of Texan tourists who were very interested in global warming. The retreat of the glaciers in the N Cascades has accelerated in recent decades. 10 meters on average per year... (of terminus retreat)... that is over 30 feet.
We recommended seeing Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth (or the book for that matter). Our actions on this planet have consequences- the fuels we burn, the land we till, the fertilizer we use.