Before the glaciers of the Rockies melt, a man documented them in a plane

In a book with 177 images, Garrett Fisher recorded the marks of the global increase in temperature over the ice masses of the great mountain range of North America. Without losing beauty, the glaciers show the damage suffered so far

Garrett Fisher is a financial advisor, but also a pilot and a lover of nature. Moved by these passions he made his book Glaciers of the Rockies, on the masses of ice in the great chain of mountains that crosses North America from Canada to the southwest of the United States, in New Mexico. As in other geographies, they are affected by the increase in global temperature.

“Although there are different perspectives on the subject, there is no doubt that the glaciers are disappearing, ” he wrote there. “What we can do about it depends on the will of society, however, I think it is extremely informative to look at the object in question while we decide what can be done.”

In truth, few people have physically seen a glacier; much less the legislators and the officials who in their country and in the world will have to make the decisions that can preserve them, or not. The extension and difficulty of the land make it difficult. “That’s why I’m grateful to have access to a plane, which made everything possible during the summer of 2015, which consequently makes it possible for me to share it with the rest of the world,” Fisher added.

Entering the Wind River range in Wyoming, the consequences of the rise in temperature are already evident.  (Photo courtesy of Garrett Fisher)

His plane is a small Piper, the same model in which he flew for the first time at two years, and in which his grandfather gave him flight lessons in childhood, and in which he obtained his pilot certification. Now he has a PA-11 that he has taken throughout the United States and throughout Europe to follow his second passion and photograph nature.

His airplane, of 1949, has a motor of 100 horsepower that yields half when it reaches 4500 meters of height and weighs a little more than 350 kilos. But it reached so that it crossed, in solitude, a wild landscape that registered in its book by means of 177 photos.

Fisher took out each one – plus all the ones he did not select to publish – with one hand, manually opening the door in the middle of fierce winds, which filled the cabin with a cold, precisely, glacial, since the Piper has no heating. In Colorado, in Wyoming and in Montana – where it is expected that as soon as 203o some glaciers have been completely lost – he repeated the operation.

From the Rockies National Park to the Wind River Range, from Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone, it traversed the glaciers through the air, vast masses of ice moving under their own weight, beneath which lie the traces of a preterite Earth. But that, due to global warming, they can disappear sooner rather than later.

The Dinwoody and Gooseneck glaciers also show melting marks.  (Photo courtesy of Garrett Fisher)

Since 1994, worldwide, glaciers have lost more than 400,000 million tons. In particular, some in Antarctica, such as the giant Totten, and some in the Arctic, such as the Peterman and others in Greenland, could increase the level of the seas by up to three meters.

The work of Fisher – who also published Where the Colorado River Is Born, Field of Dreams: American Agriculture from the Sky and Wild and Free: Horses of the Outer Banks among more than a dozen titles – began with the location of the glaciers in a map. Defined where you had to think about when.

“I made the decision early on that I’d rather see them at the annual thaw because while glacial features are interesting under fresh snow, they are even more interesting when the cyclical snow melts and reveals what lies beneath, ” he wrote. That perennial ice, he confirmed, was the greatest spectacle.

“I’m totally resigned to them disappearing, basically I ran to see them before there are no more, ” he told The Guardian. “It’s a little bleak that our planet is entering the unexplored territory,” he added.

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