Human Journey

Your Questions Answered From the Mountain Top

Recently, National Geographic Facebook fans posted their questions for members of The Mountain Institute’s international expedition to a potentially dangerous new glacial lake in the Himalayas.

The team responded via satellite phone with audio answers and photos. Listen below, or scroll to the bottom to read the transcripts.


Jorge Recharte (Photo by Daniel Byers/TMI)

Question from Moira Brigitte Rauch: Is there any correlation with the data they are collecting and other parts of the World?




Researchers from the Himalayas and the Andes share their thoughts at the top of the world. (Photo by Daniel Byers/TMI)


Alton Byers (Photo by Daniel Byers/TMI)

Question from Jennifer Lynn: What is your greatest hope or fear in this adventure?




With good weather on their side, the team cruises along a narrow mountainside path. (Photo by Daniel Byers/TMI)


Question from Noor Al-Iman: Are the lakes of any benefit? (fishing, tourist attraction, etc.)


The full team stands proudly beneath the soaring peaks of the Himalayas. (Photo by Daniel Byers/TMI)


Since the time of the interview, the team has completed their journey and conducted a two-day conference sharing their lessons from the field. Read the latest in the full blog series from The Mountain Institute Expedition.




Question from Moira Brigitte Rauch: Is there any correlation with the data they are collecting and other parts of the World?

Answer from Jorge Recharte: Thank you for your question Moira. I’m Jorge Recharte from Peru. I work with the Mountain Institute in Cordillera Blanca, which is a very large glacier region in central Peru. And yes, the issues that we have seen here at Imja Lake in the Himalayas are very similar to what is being observed in the Andes of Peru.

Glaciers are receding very fast and behaving in similar ways. Now glacier lakes are forming in very much the same fashion—both in Peru and in the Himalayas. The challenges that people are facing are also very much the same in terms of understanding the challenges they’re facing and how to get organized to respond to these problems.

In fact, one of the purposes of the expedition is to find out how we can learn from one region to the other because these issues are so similar. We’re trying to share learning both in terms of biophysical aspects of glaciers receding and lakes forming and also in terms of social organization to respond to these challenges.


Question from Jennifer Lynn: What is your greatest hope or fear in this adventure?

Answer from Alton Byers: Hi Jennifer, this is Alton Byers speaking. I’m the Director of Science and Education at the Mountain Institute and also leader of this expedition.

My greatest hope for this expedition is that it leads to even greater collaboration and research between scientists from different countries from all over the world—countries that are experiencing the new hazard of glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods.

My greatest fear is that of the weather, and also altitude. At any time, this whole expedition could be scrapped if it rains too much and the planes can’t fly or we can’t walk —and number two—if somebody gets sick with altitude.

Fortunately, this expedition has been absolutely blessed. We’ve had nothing but good weather the whole time, and because we know how to deal with altitude, if somebody comes down with the symptoms we send them down to a lower altitude where they recover for a day or two and the rejoin us. Thanks very much for your question.


Question from Noor Al-Iman: Are the lakes of any benefit? (fishing, tourist attraction, etc)

Answer from Dale McKiney: My name is Daene McKinney. I’m a civil engineer working on glacial lake problems. Thank you for your question, Noor.

These lakes don’t have much benefit in terms of fisheries because of the high sediment content of the water. Tourism is mostly of interest because of the mountains in these areas, but the lakes do offer some benefit. The most benefit probably comes from potential hydro-power generation and also downstream uses for irrigation—or perhaps domestic municipal water supply.

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.
  • sanjeeb chhetri

    how do u feel being on the top of world NEPAL?

  • Napoleón Velástegui Bahamonde

    I prefer “global warming” than “Ice Age”….!!!!

  • andrés fonseca

    this have any relationship with the global warming?

  • Maiet S.D.V.Biliran

    There is no stopping to Mother Nature taking its natural course. People all over the world must proactively learn new ways of adapting to and mitigating the effects of the dangers we have placed her (Mother Nature) today. To my friends in Bhutan, the Last Shangrila on Earth, take care and remember God loves you!

  • محمد حسن احمد

    varu good

  • […] Your Questions Answered From the Mountain Top – News Watch […]

  • Moira Brigitte Rauch

    Thanks for responding my question. 🙂

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