Atop one of Ecuador’s highest peaks, climate change is unmistakable — and threatening the future.
ANTISANA, Ecuador — Our crampons crunch into the ice and the wind whips the tepid drizzle into our faces.
High on the glacial flanks of Antisana, Ecuador’s fourth highest summit, the signs of climate change are unmistakable.
Ignacio Espinosa, one of the South American country’s top mountain guides, tells me that previously, it rarely rained here above 4,500 meters (14,764 feet). Now, snow usually only falls above 5,000 meters (16,404 feet), he says.
“It breaks my heart to see the way these mountains are changing,” he adds. As he speaks, storm clouds loaded with water vapor from the Amazon gather around us, threatening to make our tour of Antisana a miserable experience.
Helmets on, ice axes in hand and roped together to manage the risk of falling into a crevasse, we wind our way up the mountain’s main glacier.
As we approach 16,000 feet, a huge rock-field and alpine lake come into full view below us. It is a breathtaking, deeply troubling sight.
Just a decade ago, the whole area — at a guess, the size of New York’s Central Park — was blanketed by the glacier.