National Geographic Expedition to the Peruvian Andes
Cordillera Blanca & Cordillera Huayhuash
In the summer of 2012 I initiated and managed a multifaceted and multi-disciplinary expedition to the Peruvian Andes of South America. The project had three main components: i) scientific investigation, ii) alpine style mountaineering and iii) multimedia documentation. The complex endeavor was supported by the Geoscience Department and Expeditions Committee of the University of Edinburgh, mainly in terms of scientific and logistic consultancy, and the National Geographic Society provided financial and media support. The expedition team comprised: Sergiu Jiduc as project manager and scientific investigator, Sorin Rechiţan as expedition photographer and Aurel Salaşan as medic and mountaineering consultant.
The project’s main aim was to qualitatively investigate the major landscape changes associated with glacial, vegetation and anthropogenic parameters that have occurred in Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash in the past 70 years. In order to meet this objective, my team repeated several historic photographs from the 1936 and 1939 German and Austrian Alpenverein Expeditions and the 1953 American Expedition. The material, consisting of black and white photographs, maps and expedition journals was obtained with permission from the Austrian Alpine Library in Innsbruck, the German Alpine Library in Munich and the American National Snow and Ice Data Centre Library in Boulder Colorado, respectively.
In terms of mountaineering performance, Sergiu and Aurel, ascended three peaks in pure alpine style. Two were in Cordillera Blanca, Artesonraju (6025m), ascended via the South East Face, and Alpamayo (5947m) via the French Direct route. The third, Yerupaja Grande (6617m), is in Cordillera Huayhuash. It is the second highest mountain in Peru and was scaled by a new route on the notorious west face. Furthermore, we collaborated on a social youth program with a local NGO, called Changes for New Hope on matters such as poverty alleviation and awareness generation. Overall our expedition returned from Peru with over 10000 photographs and 100 GB of video material. We wrote a comprehensive report, created two on-line blogs, and resourced a video and photographic assignment with National Geographic. These reflected contemporary landscape changes in the Peruvian Andes, raised awareness of the precarious conditions of unprivileged Andean children, and illustrated the positive impact Changes for New Hope has made to improve their livelihoods.
See all the components of the project below: