Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mt. Whitney - California, USA

Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, rises like the phoenix from the western rim of the Great Basin Desert of California. At an elevation of 14, 495 feet, Whitney looms high above Death Valley, the lowest point in North America at 262 feet below sea level, less than 100 miles to the east.
Located within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of Sequoia National Park, Mt. Whitney is situated on the east side of the Great Western Divide, a chain of mountains that runs north/south through the center of the park, and is therefore not visible from any of the roads to the west.
But Mt. Whitney can easily be viewed from nearby Lone Pine, California (hotels) on U.S. Highway 395, which runs north/south along the eastern foot of the Sierras. Highway 395 can be reached via Interstate 15 near Victorville, California, over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (summer only) or by coming south from Reno, Nevada. There are no roads across the Sierras in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Mt. Whitney is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada, and perhaps the entire U.S. The summit can be reached most directly via a 10.7-mile trail from Whitney Portal, 13 miles west of Lone Pine. Ice axes and crampons are needed in spring and early summer, but technical climbing equipment is not usually necessary between mid-July and early October. During snow-free summer months, some individuals in excellent physical condition can climb to the summit and return the same day.

Mount Whitney 2003-03-25.jpg

Friday, March 4, 2016

Pico Bolivar - Merida, Venezuela

In this blog I will be writing about one of my favorite peaks in the world, that peak will be the Pico Simon Bolivar, the highest peak in Venezuela and ranked as the 25th highest peak in the world according to the SVG Version of the highest peaks by prominence.
One of the things the caught my attention from this peak is its glacial retreat, in which it is estimated that in 1910 the area covered by glaciers was around 10  km2, divided in two large areas, one embracing Picos Bolívar, Espejo and Concha and the other embracing Picos Humboldt and Bonpland. But nowadays, almost all the glaciers of the area had disappeared, with the exception of a two small glaciated areas in Pico Bolivar and Pico Humboldt. It is forecast that at the current rate Venezuela will lose by 2020 all its glaciers, making it the first Andean country without any glaciated area.
By personally being in Pico Bolivar, these facts that has been recollected about the downward of our ecosystem hits me pretty hard and makes me realize that there are changes that have to be done.

This picture shows Pico Bolivar in 1950 in comparison from 2011 and the glacier breakdown that has been occurring since then.
But there is another special thing about this peak, and it that there is the possibility to reach the peak by taking the Merida Cable Car and when it was still operational, it was the highest and second longest cable car in the world for just 500 meters, but was in first place for being the only one which combined such height and length. Mérida Cable Car was a journey of 12.5 kilometers, reaching a height of 4,765 meters, making it an engineering marvel that was one of a kind and had over 40 years of history. The whole system was opened to the public in 1960; it was closed indefinitely in 2008, with a declaration that it had reached the end of its service life and is being rebuilt. In 2011 it began a project of total modernization of the cable car which promises to become the most modern in the world, this project already has a 75% advance and its reopening is expected to be in July 2016. It is expected to be one of the most modern in the world.

I took this cable car when I was 10 years of age and it was exceptional. It really makes you appreciate the view a lot more and makes be in the moment.