Monday, March 5, 2018

Guides for Glaciers: Mountain Guides and Mountain Enthusiasts on the Front Lines of Climate Change

Located in the most popular alpine arena in the North Cascades--Boston Basin--the Quien Sabe Glacier is rapidly diminishing.
National Geographic writes that "Guides are portals to the outdoor world."  Mountain guides are portals to the glacial world and today they are on the front lines of climate change, threatened both economically and physically by changes in the mountain environment.  Through their daily connection to glaciers and their interactions with client-climbers, guides are uniquely positioned to communicate about climate change in mountain environments and to take a lead in creating a healthy future for both mountain guides and all mountain enthusiasts.

Mammut Guide Ambassador Kel Rossiter is a founder of a movement seeking to take this lead: Guides for Glaciers (G4G).  Recently, he and G4G Vice President and environmental law and policy specialist Taylor Luneau had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with mountain guide Eddie Schoen's "Mountain Sense" podcast.  

Listen and learn about the G4G movement HERE--and then join us in taking action!

The podcast is "long-format", without much editing, and weighs in at 1h 20m.  You can cut to 20 minutes into the podcast to begin getting into the heart of what inspired G4G, where it is today, and where it seeks to go.  A summary of where it seeks to go is listed below.  We hope you'll review these action steps and then--whether you are a mountain guide or mountain enthusiast--figure out the ways that you can get involved and then join us in taking the lead.

  1. Social Media Participation: Continuing to build social media presence and content. The presence helps to keep climate change front-of-mind, which is vital in the “news-of-the-day” churn and burn media cycle. The content provides a useful database for guides and the public to access information relevant to climate change and the guiding industry (just peruse our FB group page and you'll see numerous excellent resources already posted). 
  2. Climb-Pick-Give: Work with your guide organization to develop a “Climb-Pick-Give” program. You can see a version of this at the Kayak Adventures Worldwide. This type of program accomplishes several goals: 1) Invites clients to learn more about organizations relevant to climate change and mountain environments, 2) Establishes a relationship between the client and their selected organization and makes them an active participant in addressing climate change challenges. Psychology research suggests that this kind of an initial connection makes future involvement with the organizations and the cause much more likely, 3) Helps to raise funds for climate change targeted organizations.
  3. Carbon-Offsets: Whether you are a guide or a client, work with your chosen guide company to develop a carbon-offset program that will be offered to clients who are signing up for climbing adventures. During the podcast, we do address some of the challenges of carbon-offset programs and it's not without its perils, but overall when done correctly it is a useful and powerful step.
  4. Education: Field Education: Over time, Guides for Glaciers hopes to develop an engaging, targeted curriculum to coach guides on how to effectively engage clients in climate change observations and discussion while in glacial environments. In the meantime, we encourage guides to educate themselves so as to become more effective ambassadors for glacial health. The G4G group Facebook page has numerous excellent resources for doing so.  On-line Education: Encourage your guide operation(s) to develop on-line resources to educate clients about glaciers and glacial health. The RMI Expeditions website provides an excellent example.
  5. Sustainability Standards: Encourage the companies you work for to integrate sustainability targets into the operation. Specific targets will vary according to the operation.  Just as in the mountains, the options are wide, but it all begins with you taking a first step!

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