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The Mountain Talks bring together the latest perspectives on environmental and climate issues that affect the mountaineering and guiding community. These talks, delivered as a webinar series, normally include 2-3 speakers followed by a discussion and question and answers. They are a collaboration between the IFMGA, UIAA and GRID-Arendal. For further information from our partners, visit ifmga.info/mountain-talks-webinar-series

Mountain Talks #1Keeping the mountains in one piece: how thawing permafrost and melting glaciers are changing the face of high mountains and bringing new risks for mountaineering.

This webinar in April 2021 featured two talks from leading scientists in the field of glacial change and permafrost research. The emphasis was on understanding current and future changes and what this means for the mountaineering community. Further information on the speakers and their backgrounds can be found below:

Mountain permafrost: an invisible threat for mountaineers? with Florence Magnin

Permafrost (permanently frozen ground) is an invisible feature, yet it covers a substantially larger extent than glaciers in mountain areas. In 2003, a heatwave struck Europe and researchers observed a significant increase of the number of rockfalls across the Alps. Since then, research has focused on mapping the distribution of rock wall permafrost and trying to assess its recent and future evolution in various mountain ranges.

In this talk, Florence will introduce some basic concepts and knowledge about mountain permafrost, where it can be found, how it evolves, how the thawing of mountain permafrost may threaten mountaineering practices, and some the recent developments to assess the risks associated with its evolution.

About the speaker

Florence has a PhD in Physical Geography, which she defended in 2015. She is now a researcher at the University Savoie Mont Blanc (EDYTEM-CNRS), working on steep slope permafrost, assessing its distribution, its evolution and its role in rock slope failures such as rockfalls and rock avalanches. Her main research laboratory is the French Alps and she has also conducted research in Norway, Svalbard and the Pyrenees. She is also involved in projects in Peru, Greenland and Iceland.

A global tour of glacial change and its impact on society with Lindsey Nicholson

Mountain glaciers all over the world are diminishing in response to ongoing climate change. Not only does this have profound impacts on the visual landscapes of mountain regions but also on regional water resources, ecosystems, and glacier-related hazards.

In this talk, Lindsey will explain how scientists understand past and projected glacier change, discuss some causes of regional and glacier-to-glacier differences in how glaciers change is response to climate conditions, and highlight some of the societally-relevant impacts of glacier change using some case studies.

About the speaker

A love and respect for remote mountain regions led Lindsey to a career in glaciology. Now based at the University of Innsbruck, she has experience of working on glaciers in the Canadian and Norwegian Arctic, Nepalese Himalaya, Chilean and Peruvian Andes and east Africa. Her research is focussed on understanding the response of glaciers to climate change.

Mountain Talks #2

Sustainable, Low Impact Guiding.

What do we mean by sustainable, low impact guiding? This webinar, the second in the series of Mountain Talks, explored this question. Carl Lundberg talks about his guiding principles and business in Scandinavia; Halvor Dannevig and Carlo Aall present perspectives on sustainability through their academic research in Norway; and Nils Farlund talks about eco-philisophy and the development of the "Stetind Declaration".

Low impact guiding by Carl Lundberg

I found myself standing on the glaciers telling my clients how the ever-warmer summers are melting the ice and the thawing permafrost makes the mountains crumble and crash into the valleys. What I did not bring up was that us, standing there witnessing the decay, were a large part of creating the problem - but honestly, I think we all knew. To sustain I went through all possible excuses to justify my business and lifestyle. But the moral dilemma kept increasing and in 2015 the desire to be part of the solution rather than the problem tipped over and I decided to start over with the aim to do my guiding with an as low impact as possible.

About the speaker

For large parts I have pursued my mountain guiding in parallel, and in combination, with other careers. I did my mountain guide training in parallel with my Ph.D. as an escape and a backup in the case deskwork became too slow for me (it did). While working as an army officer, military mountain guiding, and instructing were part of my duties. As safety manager for geological and glacial research expeditions I got to combine mountain guiding and research. And as many guides, I too combined guiding and rope access work. At my "career peak" as a guide I was part of running a heliski-operation and trips worldwide. Since 2015 I work locally in Scandinavia, primarily with ski touring.

Outdoor recreation can be a cause, a victim, as well as part of the solution! by Halvor Dannevig and Carlo Aall

Outdoor recreation can be a cause, a victim, as well as part of the solution, to environmental degradation and runaway climate change. We will start this presentation with some uncomfortable truths about the relationships between outdoor recreation, consumerism and energy use based on research done at Western Norway Research Institute, and a few thoughts about transition to sustainability in tourism. We will also present preliminary results from research on how nature based tourism actors, including, ski resorts, guide companies and mountaineers in Norway are affected by climate and environmental changes and how they need to adapt to these changes both to avoid doing additional harm to the environment as well as reducing operational risk.

About the speakers

Dannevig holds a PhD in adaptation to climate change and is a research director at Western Norway Research Institute. He is also a Norwegian IFMGA guide and combines both professions where he lives in Sogndal close to the highest mountains and largest glaciers in Norway. Halvor is also Vice-president in the Norwegian Guides Association (NORTIND).

Aall (PhD) is leading the National research centre on sustainable climate change adaptation (Noradapt) at Western Norway Research Institute and serves as a professor in sustainable development at the Western Norway University of Applied Science.

The future of the mountain guiding profession by Nils Faarlund

In this interview Nils presents the development Eco-philosophical thinking (and living), the what, how and why of learning, and how this relates to a reality oriented process within the nordic Friluftsliv traditions. His hope is that the time now has come for the UIAGM to fully integrate the result of our more than fifty years of experience with learning into the future pattern for qualifying mountain guides: To expand 'transparent guiding' into 'dialogue-based guiding' – dialogue with nature, according to eco-philosophy/dialogue with the guests, according to 'tour agreement-based companionship'.

About the speaker

MSc biochemistry/microbiology Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH), Trondheim (1961). Research in microbiology at NTH etc. (1962 – 1966). Founder of Norwegian School of Mountaineering in Hemsedal (1967). Took friluftsliv to University level at Norwegian School of Sport Science (1968), MA-level (1975). Founding father of Association of Norwegian Mountain Guides (1978). Leader Norwegian Red Cross Alpine Rescue/ICAR delegate 1974 – 2007. Norwegian Red Cross Reward for accident prevention services (1997), Project leader Mountaineering and leadership courses Norwegian Military Academy (1967 – 2019), Honorary Officer Cadet of the Academy (1999), Honorary member of UIAGM (2000) and International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR) (2011). Knight 1st class of The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for volunteer and professional services for nature and humanity 2008. Norwegian Friluftsliv Award (2009).

Status: In progress

Type: Mountains

Programme: Polar and Climate

Tags: mountains


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