2014 Cordillera Blanca
The 2014 Cordillera Blanca Peru expedition was a great success. Researchers and volunteers with the American Climber Science Program conducted a set of scientific research projects in Huascaran National Park in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Our expedition began with a different flavor than in the past as ACSP volunteers began with an archaeological visit to the Aukis Pukio region in the northern Cordillera Blanca. Rebecca Bria of PIARA was the lead scientist for the archaeological research. After Aukis Pukio, the expedition continued with week long visits to the Ulta, Paron, Llanganuco, Ishinca, and Llaca valleys. Research conducted on the expedition included water quality studies, macro-invertebrate (aquatic and land), glacier contamination, the impacts of grazing on high altitude ecosystems.
Of particular interest was the first large USAID funded project led by ACSP scientists. In the Ulta valley, Dr. Rebecca Cole organized the construction of numerous cattle exclosures (fenced areas to keep cattle out) with the help of the local cattle grazing communities. These exclosures will enable the long term study of the impact of cattle on the native ecosystems. The USAID project also had the side benefit in that ACSP was able to host 18 Peruvian students on 1-week trips into Huascarán National Park so that they could gain hands-on experience working with the scientists. Several of these students are now working with ACSP scientists on research projects which require monitoring throughout the year. In addition to the Peruvian students, ACSP also directly funded four US masters students to carry out their thesis work on this expedition. As part of the USAID project ACSP also hosted a workshop at UNASAM in Huaraz to bring together investigators and local stakeholders. The workshop included presentations from more than 10 scientists doing research in the area and was attended by approximately 50 investigators and stakeholders. The quality and quantity of scientific research conducted during the 2014 expedition was beyond all previous expeditions and we expect many excellent publications to result.