Members of the ACSP team were on the slopes of Mt. Everest this season (Spring/Summer 2014) collecting data on glacier retreat and changes in albedo in order to examine the stability of these massive glaciers in a warming environment, but an avalanche on Mt. Everest killed 16 people - including one of our team members and many friends. It was a grim reminder that mountains are always dangerous places. The ice fall also sent much of our equipment deep into a crevasse and the mountain was closed to climbing for the season. We shifted our research to Mt. Himlung on the Tibet/Nepal border in order to continue gathering the data necessary for our glacial pollution and stability research. However, while collecting snow samples near Camp 2 at approximately 20,000 feet, Dr. All fell deep into a crevasse and only through extreme good fortune was able to climb out and survive.
These twin accidents highlight the risk involved in mountain research. But the Himalaya provide water for two billion people and so the American Climber Science Program will continue our work in the glaciers of the regions – albeit with even more heightened awareness of safety in these regions. Much of this type of work - that combines data collection at high elevations with remote sensing to address cutting-edge questions on glacier dynamics - was discussed in Schmitt et al. (2014) and Schmitt et al. (2015).