AN SOS FROM THE ROOF OF THE WORLD

Bringing together mountain communities, mountain champions, and mountain scientists to save the future

Earth’s frozen zones are among our most breathtaking landscapes.  But the survival of these magical realms of snow and ice now hangs in the balance.  Even the ice of the tallest mountain range in the world, the vast highland crescent of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, is now suffering unprecedented losses.  

 As home to hundreds of millions of people, habitat for some of Earth’s hardiest and most unusual lifeforms, source of freshwater for one quarter of humanity, the consequences of these losses are vast.  These majestic mountains, hundreds of them soaring above 7,000 metres, hold so much ice that scientists call them ‘the third pole’. Cold is so intrinsic to their identity that the very name Himalaya is Sanskrit for ‘abode of snow’.  
But the mountains here saw so little snowfall this year that it was dubbed a snow drought. Without winter, and as temperatures rise, the snowline is rising ever higher, leaving mountains once white now black and grey. The channels once carved by vast, slow-moving rivers of ice stand as dry, empty riverbeds.

A meteorological system gone haywire, meanwhile, has inundated steep slopes with extreme rain, falling on thawing permafrost, and early snowmelt, to unleash devastating floods, landslides, and rivers of debris.

It is time for all of us who care about Earth’s frozen mountain zones, their human populations, and biodiversity to step up to protect them and ourselves. To Save Earth, we need to call for our leaders to Save Our Snow.

Steering ourselves from an unliveable future may be humanity’s greatest summit yet.

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“The deepest patterns of our lives—the ways our bodies understand the cycle of the seasons and the progress of time—are now slipping away. The fight to save the planet is the fight to save billions of people and millions of species, but it’s also the fight to hold on to profound beauty and meaning, not to mention sheer gorgeous powdery magic.”

- Bill McKibben 

Changing Himalayas: Pheriche Valley

This comparison reveals how the landscape of the Pheriche Valley at 4,371 meters has transformed over several decades.
1950
2007
Left (1950s): Photographed by Fritz Muller. Right (2007): Photographed by Alton Byers. Credit: Archives of Alton Byers, The Mountain Institute
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