Joined: 29 Oct 2005
Posts: 145 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
|My experience with the area around Eldorado and Forbidden Peaks dates from the late 1970s. I've observed with interest (and dismay) as the glaciers surrounding Moraine Lake have retreated since then.
In the 2007 issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal, I published a story by Mauri Pelto about our vanishing glaciers:
The story included a pair of photographs showing the retreat of the east lobe of the Inspiration Glacier, which reached almost to the elevation of Moraine Lake in 1979. By 1996, when I took another photo from the same vantage point, the lobe was gone. I assumed this was due to a general warming trend.
I was surprised, then, when I found the following photograph in the Charles and Marion Hessey collection in the Mountaineers Archives. The photo is undated, but based on my knowledge of the Hessey collection, I can say with confidence that it was taken in the 1950s or early 1960s.
Notice the eastern lobe of the glacier. It has almost the exact same extent as in my 1996 photo. I interpret this to mean that there was a significant surge of this glacier which occurred between the 1950s and 1979. I don't know enough about the climatic record during that time to make interpretations, but I just thought I would share this interesting history.
Here is the 1950's shot by Charles Hessey, Jr:
And here is my NWMJ photo pair showing the glacier in 1979 and 1996:
It's worth noting that the Hessey shot shows the remains of a much older glacier lobe near the bottom of the Inspiration Glacier cirque. By the time the 1996 photo was taken, that old ice appears to have melted away.