Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Melting glaciers reveal secrets.  Lets look at the Andean Mountains, Bolivia, La Paz.  This is a city where mountain climbers gravitate.  The guys eat grilled llama and drink bottles of Pacena beer and talk about the nearly 20,000 foot high mountain called the Huayna Potosi, that is the landscape of La Paz. Some peaks are higher than the Alps and the Rockies.  This is also a range that seemed to be the place where countless plane crashes occurred throughout the years.

Climbers are discovering on Huayna Potosi’s glacier crumpled fuselage, decades old pieces of wings, propellers and in November, the frozen body of Rafael Benjamin Pabon, a 27 year old pilot whose plane crashed into the mountain’s north face in 1990. “When I found the pilot, he was still strapped into his seat, crunched over like he was sleeping, some black hair falling from his skull,” said Eulalio Gonzalez, 49, the climber who carried Mr. Pabon’s mummified body down the mountain. “There are more ice mummies in the peaks above us,” he said.  “Melting glaciers will bring them to us”

This sounds like the stuff out of a fiction adventure novel.  No, this is real.  Things are being discovered every day on mountain ice slopes.  The bodies that are emerging were mummified naturally, with extreme cold and dry air performing the work that resins and oils did for the ancient Egyptians and other cultures.  The discoveries are helping to solve decades old mysteries and the finds could go on for a long time.  Some discoveries are personal, allowing families closure after years of mourning loved ones who appeared to have vanished.

Some of the most valuable discoveries found in recent years was a 550-year -old ice man discovered by sheep herders in northern British Columbia.  How much ice is melting if we can go back 500 years by just walking around on a mountain?  There used to be ice climbing tours on mountain tops; now they are offering discovery tours.  In 2004, three well preserved soldiers were found in a scene of  high-altitude fighting from World War I in the Italian Alps. Global warming is now offering us new industries.  Tourism of historic tragedies on mountain tops.

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