Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Melting away

Here you see a recent picture of Pico Humboldt. At 4,940 metres above sea level, it is Venezuela's second highest peak. It has two of the 5 remaining glaciers in Venezuela, glaciers that are receding very fast. As you can see, there is very little snow now. The picture was taken this January. For those of you who don't know much about Venezuela's location: that place is at 8°33 North.

Below you have a picture of the Humboldt Peak taken in 2001. Although the angle is not the same, you can have an idea about the changes.

I love mountaineering and have been practicing it since I was a child. I have seen how glaciers have been disappearing in other places of the world. And yet I can't help for being particularly sorry for this one.

Climate change is a very complex phenomenon we are still trying to grasp. We do know we humans are speeding it up. You get the picture.

Ps. Thanks to David for the first picture.
Ps 2. And thanks to Alpha for correcting my error while typing the peak's height. I must have been very high when I wrote it.


  1. Wow. Sad. I remember taking the teleferico and throwing snow balls and running around Pico Espejo back when I was about ten (1965.) Silly of me. I got sick because of the altitude (a bit short of 16,000 feet.) My father took me to an aid station and a friendly bombero gave me oxygen. Ah, that oxygen felt so incredibly good!

    It's sad to think of the Sierra Nevada with little of that beautiful white that made it so unique in Venezuela.

    I'm writing this from Burlington, in the so-called banana belt of Vermont. We now have a snow depth of 20 inches (51 centimeters--some drifts are much higher) and yards have not seen any bare ground since mid-December.


  2. Hi, Kolya. Yes, it's a real pity. My brother had a similar experience when he was a teenager...yes, very silly, but what the heck, one does that kind of things at that age. Some people do them even when they have been adults for quite some time.
    Banana belt? Why banana belt?

  3. "Banana belt" is a humorous but not too uncommon reference to the warmest region of Vermont (with the longest growing season), better known as the Champlain Valley--the area east of Lake Champlain. Of course, no bananas grow here.

  4. I checked in Wikipedia and learned that the teleferico to Pico Espejo was closed in 2008. Disappointing news. That teleferico was a feat of engineering. I doubt that a new system will be built, meanwhile the old one will become a rusting ruin, an eyesore. Let me add that from the environmental perspective it was unwise to build it in such a beautiful but fragile ecosystem. Now we might know better, but back then ecological awareness was rare and the noble rationale of such projects was to make spectacular natural beauty more accessible to common man--think of all those cable cars in the Alps. My guess is that because of the teleferico not a trivial number of people came to appreciate the beauty of Merida's Sierra Nevada. Knowing what we know about ecosystems, it would have been better not to build it. Once built, however, it's a waste not to use it for people to learn to appreciate the beauty of nature.


  5. OK, that's funny. I was not sure about the meaning. I thought it could have some political context.
    I read a bit the Wikipedia article for the Champlain Lake, interesting.

    Regarding the teleférico:
    wouldn't it be better if they went full monty and took away the whole structures?

    I checked out the Spanish article and it says a new system is expected to be ready for 2012, which is Venezuelan calendar for 2017.

    Several experts (forest engineer from Germany and civil engineers from Venezuela) have told me Venezuela always had very strict legislation on certain environmental areas, but Venezuelans are - and this is what they said and I know from growing up in the Land of Grace - a disaster when it comes to taking care of nature.
    I was preparing a couple of new posts on that.
    The Valencia Lake could have been something as attractive for tourists as the Chiemsee in Germany.


1) Try to be constructive and creative. The main goal of this blog is not to bash but to propose ideas and, when needed, to denounce
2) Do not use offensive language
3) Bear in mind that your comments can be edited or deleted at the blogger's sole discretion
4) If your comment would link back to a site promoting hatred of ethnic groups, nations, religions or the like, don't bother commenting here.
5) Read point 4 again