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Writer and photographer James Martin, author with Mark Twight of Extreme Alpinism, has turned his attention to the vanishing ice of planet Earth. Embarking on a new book, Planet Ice, Martin will blog exclusively for GreatOutdoors.com over the next two years as he visits the polar regions, the last of the Equatorial glaciers, and the ice of more temperate mountains, to document how they show, all too clearly, the devestating results of global climate change.
These articles follow the progress of the Planet Ice project, which consists of a book of photographs and essays and a related touring exhibition examining ice at the poles, in the mountains, and on the Equator. This project will take me to the Mountains of the Moon, the Alps, the Andes, the Himalaya, Greenland, Iceland, and the polar ice caps in a little over two years.
The impetus for creating this book is two-fold. First, I always admired Austin Post's black and white photographs in his book, Glacier Ice, written by Ed Lachappelle. It illustrated the many forms ice takes as it works on the surface of the earth. I envisioned a color version of Post's seminal work, with a more abstract, less didactic point of view.
Second, I visited the Columbia Icefields in Canada's Jasper National Park some years ago. In 1975 I strapped on my crampons and hiked to a crevasse at the toe of the Athabaska Glacier where a friend and I practiced ice climbing technique for the first time. The next day we climbed the 1,800 foot North Face of Athabaska with miserable gear and next to no skill. Upon my return, I found the place I learned to ice climb was now gravel, with the ice hundreds of feet up the hill. When I learned that the famous ice pitches on the North Face of the Eiger had also ablated into nothingness, it hit me that an important part of the world was vanishing at incredible speed.
Although I had shot glaciers and ice flows in the past, I knew I needed to assemble a critical mass of striking images to persuade a publisher to take on the project. A voyage to Antarctica in 2006 gave me the opportunities I needed.
Ice is a fabulous subject. It features wonderful colors and twists and melts into amazing shapes. In addition to grand landscapes, the images will include details on the surface of glaciers such as olgives (surge ridges), sinuous moraines, surfacial lakes, backlit translucent bergs, the depths of blue crevasses, and neve penitents. The state of planetary ice impacts the lives of people and animals, including those who live amid the ice and those who live where climate change is influenced by the loss of ice at the poles. We are learning that ice affects climate and climate affects ice.
We are following in the footsteps of David Brower's Exhibit Format series of books for the Sierra Club. These books aided in the effort to establish Redwoods and North Cascades national parks and to the abandonment of plans to dam the Colorado River, which would have flooded of part of the Grand Canyon. We hope that this project will increase public awareness and nudge opinion toward acting responsibly. While the book aims to rouse public opinion, it also will celebrate the beauty we still possess and the wonder of life persisting in harshest corners of the planet.
Writers who are contributing essays to Planet Ice include:
Make a tax deductible donation to Planet Ice Project
The cost of a project of this scale exceeds the resources of any one publisher. To fund Planet Ice, The Mountaineers Foundation has formed a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization to accept and distribute donations. If you are interested in donating or have a query, contact:
The Mountaineers Foundation
1001 Klickitat Way, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98134