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The Melting World sides of bare rock peaks, freezing again. What’s more, interglacial periods continued to pile more snow and ice on the mountain crests. The current glaciers at the Park may have formed in about 7,000 B.C. The Little Ice Age came in Medieval times, starting in 1300 and ending in 1850 A.D. adding another 550 years for glaciers to advance. At first, warming climate melted them slowly. Then rapidly, as we are seeing now. But how quickly? That’s what White and his cohorts are measuring. This day is to check out Sperry glacier, a spot that is monitored ever y fa l l. The sc ena r io is set: Sperry faces north, shaded from the sun. White paints the scene, “Fagre and his team of two, Kevin Jacks and Erich Peitzsch, arrive w it h impressive bags of gear ~ impressive not so much for their bulk as for the lethal accessories tied on top; ice axes, crampons, ice screws, and ropes. It is a tight squeeze through the Staircase,” {a narrow split in solid rock en route to the top} “... like threading the eye of a needle.” Inside the packs are tools for their work. Sperry has a steep headwall. It’s called a hanging glacier because the ice field perches over a cliff, “draping... precariously over the rock wall” as White describes it. The glacier area is covered with

Sperry Glacier snow, hiding its crevasses under a white blanket. The team is prepared for danger. They have put on climbing harnesses and have tied up to a 50 meter rope made of blue and green perlon. They attach crampons on their boots and carry ice axes. If one of them falls into a crevasse, he has ascenders that he can climb back up the rope. Distance between the men is critical. If they’re too close on the rope, the next man will be pulled down the slash in the earth behind the first. If the rope’s properly divided, the second man will drive his axe into the ice and the rope will stay taut for the rescue. A ll is ready for the job of recording changes in Sperr y since last year. Kevin and Erich begin to walk around the target to send their reports to the station. Modern technology has made the job simpler ~ not only is data quickly captured, the men send it by Global Positioning System (GPS) to a passing satellite that bounces it back to the

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December 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times December 2013

December 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times December 2013