See the magnificent but melting glaciers of the Rwenzori mountains

See the magnificent but melting glaciers of the Rwenzori mountains

Dawn over the retreating Stanley glacier

John Wendle

AFRICAN glaciers are a few of the fastest-melting on the planet. On Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania they might be passed by 2040, whereas these of Mount Kenya and the little-studied Rwenzori mountains that span Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could vanish this decade.

A deep cave cuts under the leading lip of the Stanely Glacier in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. Small, cold streams flow out from under the ice as the glacier melts.

The melting nostril of the Stanley glacier

John Wendle

Their loss will deprive scientists of important ice cores recording the largely undocumented climatic historical past of equatorial Africa, and will drive uncommon plant and animal species to extinction in these distinctive ecosystems on the mountain slopes.

A dendrosenecio, or giant groundsel, rises from a valley floor high in the Rwenzoris. The plant protects itself from cold temperatures with a layer of dead leaves.

Along with my spouse and fellow journalist, Alessandra Prentice, I spent eight days mountain climbing within the Rwenzoris to {photograph} a few of the glaciers on this vary earlier than they disappear.

Enock Bwambale (L), deputy cheif guide for the Rwenzori Trekking Services, and Uzia Kule (R) compare a photo by Italian photographer Vittorio Sella taken in 1905 to today's view of Lake Kitendara below Mount Stanely and Mount Baker in the Rwenzoris.

Enock Bwambale (L), deputy cheif information for the Rwenzori Trekking Providers, and Uzia Kule (R)

John Wendle

The principle picture exhibits dawn over the retreating Stanley glacier, huddled within the valley between the peaks of Margherita (the third highest level in Africa at 5109m) and Alexandra, which type a part of Mount Stanley. Images from 1906 present thick ice masking the tops of the vary, however glaciers now cowl lower than 1 sq. kilometre.

A giant rosette of a lobelia holds a bit of the water that regularly gets dumped on the mountains.

A large rosette of a lobelia

John Wendle

To get to this location, we hiked for six days, generally slipping into the knee-deep mud of the Rwenzoris, which implies “the rainmaker” within the native language, Konjo.

Porters walk through a fog shrouded landscape of giant tree heathers covered in lichen.

Porters stroll by a fog shrouded panorama of big tree heathers coated in lichen

John Wendle

The remaining pictures present: the melting nostril of the Stanley glacier; an enormous Senecio; guides Enock Bwambale and Uziah Kule from Rwenzori Trekking Providers; the large rosette of a lobelia; a porter carrying provides by the large heathers of the Rwenzoris (pictured above); Bwambale and Prentice on the Stanley glacier (pictured beneath).

Enock Bwambale, deputy head guide for the Rwenzori Trekking Services, leads Alessandra Prentice and I up the high shoulder of the Stanley Glacier towards a cornice of ice that was once so big it forced the first successful summit team in 1905 to stand on each other's heads to get over it. Today, trekkers can high around it because the ice is so low.


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