Wildlife and Solitude in the High Uintas
By Dory Trimble
ASC Uintas Adventurer
Our day starts in the water. The rocks are slick, brown, unreliable against our feet. We’ll cross this river—the East Fork of Black’s Fork—another half-dozen times before we return to dry socks and our tents at dusk.
My shoes are already sodden from morning dew, so I step into the water and let it course ice cold around my ankles, sometimes past my knees. When we emerge into the bluebells on the other side, I take a moment to grasp my legs and feel the fierce, blinding burn of cold on my bare skin. It passes into a soothing kind of numbness, and we hike uphill to drier footholds, talking and laughing and listening to birdsong in the trees.
Writing and Photography by Ryan Smith
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
I gaze up at a dizzying school of swarming silver jacks, holding my breath, for a brief moment, time stands still. Free diving the remote Isla Isabella 80 miles off the Central Mexican coast surrounded by hundreds of pelagic fish provides a stark reminder that I’ve entered the food chain. I pop my head up and marvel at the isolated rock, laughing with delight.
After nearly two months on the boat, it still feels surreal to be sailing down the Pacific coast of Central America with some of my closest friends, surfing, diving and exploring as we go.
Making our way south, we’re visiting protected marine areas and taking water samples for ASC's microplastic research. Just a year ago, none of us would’ve imagined that we'd be visiting this Jurassic-like island, made famous by Jacques Costeau and surrounded by thousands of squawking blue-footed boobies and soaring frigate birds.
By Ian Bolliger
ASC Snow and Ice Adventurer
On May 20, Peter McCarthy and I landed at Kahiltna Base Camp with the goal of summiting Denali and skiing the Orient Express or Messner Couloirs. Two days later, Dave and Hollie Leonard joined us and we set off. The week or so it took us to make it to 14,000 feet on the mountain spoiled us with warm, clear days and beautiful views.
14k camp is where Denali climbers typically spend the most time acclimatizing and staging for their ascent of the upper mountain. On the last day of our weather window, these interesting cirrus clouds flew high above us, and before long before they turned a little more menacing. (Photo by Ian Bolliger)
When we were ready to start climbing the upper mountain, a series of storms thwarted us. After three and a half weeks on the mountain, we climbed to 17,000 feet three separate times but were unable to go higher. At that point, I had to leave, while Pete, Hollie and Dave stayed for five more days. They lucked out with a high-pressure system following my departure and reached the summit.
By Emily Stifler Wolfe
Giulia Grimaldi and Barbora Vagaska are headed to explore new waters—literally—off the shores of eastern Russia this summer.
The two scientists at the University College London have signed on to gather water samples for the ASC Microplastics Project during their scuba diving expedition to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Commander Islands, and potentially on Sakhalin, another remote Russian island.
“I never had really thought of it as a diving destination,” said Grimaldi, an Italian dive instructor and a molecular biologist. “But when we dove in Russia in last year, we met local divers who spoke highly of Kamchatka.”
Most of Kamchatka is quite well dived, she explained, but they’ll be headed out with locals to new un-dived sites. The Commander Islands, a group of sparsely populated, treeless islands east of Kamchatka in the Bering Sea, are relatively unexplored by divers.
Watch a video of Grimaldi and Vagaska during a training dive in Portland, UK:
You Can Help Protect the Gallatin River
Hikers, lace up your boots, and head into the Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone to gather water samples. Paddlers, it’s time to eddy out for conservation science. Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is launching a new project just miles from our headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, tackling an emerging problem for waters near and far.
Flowing 120 miles through the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Gallatin River is home to some of the nation’s most pristine landscapes and its best river recreation. The Gallatin is a lifeblood for local communities, but preliminary ASC samples show that it is threatened by microplastic pollution.
“As we continue to find microplastic particles in water samples from around the world, we’re compelled to ask deeper questions and move beyond what we already know,” says ASC Microplastics Project Manager Jenna Walenga. “Yes, plastic ends up in the ocean, but where exactly is it coming from?”
With your help, we aim to find out.
Starting this September, the southwest Montana river community will have an opportunity to help gather water samples from the length of the Gallatin River and its significant tributaries. To obtain a clear picture of the problem, we will begin by sampling four times between September 2015 and June 2016, with continuing efforts in the years to come.
We're proud to announce the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation 2014 Annual Report, highlighting our projects, partnerships and organizational growth in the past year.
Major milestones included developing a four-year strategy, honing our mission, and creating strong metrics for success. The book also highlights our Landmark wildlife program on the Great Plains, and the expansion of our microplastics research from the marine environment to freshwater.
Click here to read more:
As part of the ASC family, you are integral to advancing our work with habitat and wildlife. Thank you for your support.
Read the Landmark Notes blog: