When geoscientist and mountaineer John All started studying the impacts of climate change on world’s highest mountain glaciers over a decade ago, he said it was like monitoring a sick patient. Now, it’s more like doing an autopsy.
“We’re just watching the glaciers decay, effectively,” All told Earther.
And yet All, who directs Western Washington University’s Mountain Environments Research Institute, continues scaling Earth’s sky-high glaciers for science, despite the ever-present and growing risks of doing so, because the mountains are still, in many ways, a frontier. His most recent field expedition to the Himalayas was testament to that. After close to two months hiking through valleys and up snow-covered mountains breathing progressively thinner air, All and his colleagues managed to collect snow and ice samples from 26,000 feet up Mount Everest and 28,000 feet up neighboring Mount Lhotse.