Monitoring Climate Change While Climbing in “Artic Ascent with Alex Honnold”


Climbing the Arctic cliff up 3,750 feet in 20°F weather during a snowstorm is an accomplishment in itself, more so when the climb is graded at 5.12c, a number that describes its difficulty (denoting difficulty of handholds and the moves involved). Add to that the amount of gear the climbers had to haul up the face, and the term “logistical nightmare” doesn’t do it justice.

Beyond tents, meals, and clothing, the team also brought a ton of scientific equipment, including ablation poles to measure glacier melt, time-lapse cameras, 3D mapping equipment, hydrophones, temperature sensors, piezometers to measure water pressure, CTDs (CTD = conductivity, temperature, depth) to measure water salinity, GPS systems, satellite phones, and radar equipment. This is on top of containers for taking rock and water samples, increasing the weight for the trip down.

The equipment was a necessary burden for Alex and his team. The determination to go where no climbers have gone before, hauling equipment on toboggans, and documenting the journey every step of the way places viewers in a unique world that could soon fade away over the coming decades.

The journey undertaken in National Geographic’s new docuseries doesn’t conclude with the end of an adventure, but with a renewed commitment to bring awareness to something that affects the entire planet and acts as a catalyst for change. The “Arctic Ascent with Alex Honnold” is set to premiere on February 5 on Disney+.

When asked if Arctic Ascent got Heidi into climbing, she said, “Absolutely! And I also want to work with other athletes on other expeditions, too.”

When asked if Arctic Ascent got Alex into exploring more science, he replied, “Without a doubt. I want to have a scientific component on every one of my major climbs.”



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