Himalayas Word count: 866 Dr. Summer Rupper isn’t your typical mother of two: she is also a glaciologist. Her career requires her to do regular field studies. Performing field studies necessitates travel, often to exotic places. Although it can be painful for her to leave her family for very long, Dr. Rupper does what she loves, and loves what she does. This past year, she had the opportunity to spend time hiking in the Himalayas with six other scientists and a team of fourteen Bhutanese. Despite being the only woman, Dr. Rupper led the glaciology team. The trek up to the glacier took seven days, and the trails weren’t your typical trails. Boulders and rocks from landslides and tree roots covered the path. Dr. Rupper was not deterred by the rainy weather or formidable landscape, because the Himalayas are particularly interesting to her. Q: What motivated this trip? A: Bhutan is a developing country. They only have one major national export, and that’s hydroelectric power to India. The glaciers are a major meltwater source for the rivers, and as the glaciers are rapidly retreating, the question is whether or not that’s going to be a long-‐term, viable resource. The problem is, glaciers create massive floods. Bhutan had one flood in 1994 that damaged one of their most sacred Buddhist gods and killed numerous people. They have a lot of questions about safety and economic resources that are directly tied to these glaciers. So, we’re collaborating with them and helping them understand what the issues are. Q: How did you handle the altitude changes? A: You have to be really careful about altitude sickness. We did have one member go down with symptoms of cerebral edema, and we had several that stayed in a lower camp because they weren’t adjusting well enough to the altitude. Altitude sickness can hit absolutely anybody. We prepare the best we can; we have medications, including injections. Q: Have you had any crazy, unexpected experiences? A: I’m not afraid of spiders or snakes or heights, or anything else, but it turns out I really hate leeches, which I found out in Bhutan this year. We start at Front Range where it’s basically a jungle. There were . . . leeches . . . and they can go straight through your wool socks and everything. I was really grossed out by those.
Cami Wilson 4/10/13 7:39 PM Deleted: Amy Carlin Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:24 PM Deleted: r Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:26 PM Deleted: that she Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:28 PM Deleted: from landslides, Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:28 PM Deleted: , Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:28 PM Deleted: formiddable Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:29 PM Deleted: as Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:29 PM Deleted: one area of Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:44 PM Moved (insertion)  Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:45 PM Deleted: o
Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:43 PM Moved down : Q: Do you have any advice for those interested in traveling for study? A: For me, it’s making sure that the students I take with me and the colleagues I work with are fun to be around. In the field, you work 2-‐6 weeks with somebody, and conditions can be rough. The right personality can enjoy any condition. They make the most of the experience, they enjoy it, even under the worst circumstances. The people you choose to collaborate or travel with can make all the difference.
Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:32 PM Comment : My computer is telling me that this should be capitalized. What does Front Range mean? Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:31 PM Deleted: front range
Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:34 PM Comment : Is this cutting part of the interview out, or creating emphasis? I’m not sure. Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:45 PM Deleted: Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:44 PM Moved up : Q: How do you handle the altitude changes? A: You have to be really careful about altitude sickness. We did have one member ... 
Q: What was it like working with the Bhutanese? A: Many of the Bhutanese that were working for the company were quite young, in their teens, and they were about the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. On occasion, they would sneak me little pieces of candy or chocolate. They called me Mum Summer. That was really fun. Q: Did you learn a lot about Bhutanese culture during your trip? A: I’m learning. Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist and very peaceful. It’s been given the name “The Happiest Country in the World.” It’s actually illegal to climb above 6000 meters because that’s where the gods live. That means most of the peaks in Bhutan have never been summited. It would disturb the gods. It’s very pristine. Q: What kinds of things did you eat? Did you have a lot of dried food? A: No, actually. I have never eaten such good food in the field. The Bhutanese cooks had a cook tent, and they would go hide in there and cook, and would come out with these amazing dishes. For a typical meal, they would come in with some kind of soup that we’d eat first, then they’d come in with huge dishes of rice, and then four other dishes: a vegetable, a meat, another vegetable, and sauce that you’d pour over the rice. Then, fruit for dessert. Every dinner was like that. One of their main staples is an incredibly hot pepper. I grew up in the South, so I thought I knew what hot was, but these would bring a Cajun to tears. They were in everything. The cooks were very nice to us, and they would often cook without the peppers in certain dishes so we could eat some of it. Q: What conclusions were you able to draw? A: Right now it’s still very preliminary, but these glaciers are in a very negative mass balance. That basically means they’re out of balance with the present day climate; they have to get smaller. So, we’ve been able to show that at minimum, even if climate doesn’t continue to change, these glaciers have to change area by at least 10%. That’s a 30% reduction in meltwater. Our initial results show that big changes are going to happen in the coming decades and we need to prepare for that. Q: Do you have any advice for those interested in traveling for study? A: For me, it’s making sure that the students I take with me and the colleagues I work with are fun to be around. In the field, you work 2-‐6 weeks with somebody, and conditions can be rough. The right personality can enjoy any condition. They make the most of the experience, they enjoy it, even under the worst circumstances. The people you choose to collaborate or travel with can make all the difference.
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Cami Wilson 2/19/13 7:44 PM Comment : I feel like moving this question the end of the article sums up our travel theme nicely. We want people to leave thinking about traveling and not just about glaciers.