I was going to hold off until the 501(c)(3) exemption application was complete; however, landing oneself on the front page of The Guardian is a way of letting the cat out of the bag. So here it goes: I have launched a nonprofit called the Global Glacier Initiative. The purpose will be to fly to and photograph as many non-polar glaciers on earth as possible, before they melt or before I die, whichever comes first. Photographs at present will be offered for nonprofit use for free. I am largely taking them for future generations that will be born into a world with very few glaciers or none at all.
While I have effectively “dabbled” with my American Rockies and alpine adventures, these are merely a prologue to whet my appetite and develop sufficient skills as an aviator to execute this kind of plan. The quantity of glaciers that are in my crosshairs is something rather exponential compared to what I have accomplished to date. Bring it on.
The pragmatic reality is that the mission will require more than a decade, and up to four aircraft in total, stationed in four separate continents. The areas of focus are: rest of the Alps, Scandinavian Mountains, Iceland, Canadian Rockies, Canadian Coastal Range, American Pacific Northwest, Alaska, a few glaciers in Mexico, a few in Colombia, a few in Ecuador, quite a bit in Peru, Bolivia, years of pleasure in Chile and Argentina, and New Zealand. For the time being, I am skipping on the small icefields of equatorial Africa, the Himalayas (American with a plane and camera = jail), and the Caucasus Mountains.
Difficulty can be measured in a number of fronts: overall quantity of glaciers (Alaska), distance for which they are spread (Canada, tropics), altitude (roughly 20,000 feet in Alaska and up to 23,000 feet in South America), weather (polar storms, tropical fickleness), wind (Patagonia), and local jurisdictions (South America).
It is particularly challenging that glacier photography is best done in the summer, as seasonal snowfalls blur about 90% of the utility photographing them. That means that most of the year will be life as normal, until a blistering war cry attacking them with a vengeance on sunny days, snarling when it rains in August, bitching up a storm when forest fire smoke blocks the view, and back at it when the sun comes out. As my experiences in 2015 prove, there is little in the way of satisfaction like completing a massive glacier binge just before winter sets in, even though I ended up with a rather sore ass from sitting in the Cub for 65 hours in one month. Perhaps a better seat cushion is in order?
The Southern Hemisphere does aid in balancing the glacial pursuit, as generally glaciers are best pursued from December to February. That is, at least, the case in New Zealand, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina. For some enigmatic reason, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia are best done June to September, due to the Humboldt Current and moody tropical weather.
In any case, this is something I will be doing no matter what, for personal reasons. If fundraising is a success, then I will be able to do more of it and do it faster (yes, you can send me cash!). If not, it’s still happening, just at the pace I can pull off.
The website for the Global Glacier Initiative, Inc is here: http://globalglacierinitiative.org. There is more to come content-wise, inclusive of some outreach initiatives and a hopefully very sexy map with images added to it as time goes by. In the meantime, this summer hopefully shall feature a conquest of as much of the Alps as I can muster.