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18 October – The outcome

Below is a short summary report of what happened on the Ortler project over the course of the last month.

Between 23 September and6 October 2011, four ice cores were extracted at 3,860 metres from the “Vedretta Alta dell’Ortles” glacier in South Tyrol. This is the first time ice cores have been extracted from the Eastern Alps. The rock, which lies 75 metres below the glacier, was reached during three of the extractions, whereas during the last operation, perforation only reached 60 metres.

13th October 3-1. Let’s summarise!

Today we would like to summarise what’s happened so far.

As you might have guessed, the group of researchers has left the summit glacier of the Ortler mountain where perforation activities had been taking place. They took down all structures beginning the afternoon of 6 October and left the site the following morning. The helicopter had to make 20 return flights in order to bring all the material down to the valley, including the four precious ice cores which had been extracted during four separate operations.

4 October 2011 – …and a THIRD!

Yesterday the researchers and technicians were able to extract another ice core from the summit glacier of the Ortler mountain. For the third time within just a few days they were able to reach the rocks on which the glacier lies.

This time, not only the climatic but also the perforation conditions were particularly favourable. Since the upper layers only contained little melt water, which therefore did not obstruct the hole, the perforation was faster.

29th September – One – nil !

One – nil!

This is the result of the match currently being played between researchers and nature on the “pitch” located on the Ortler glacier, at 3,850 metres.Yesterday the perforation system reached 74 metres depth and extracted an ice core from the glacial soil, the part that lies directly on the rock. This can clearly be proven by the fact that the lower glacier layer contains rock fragments. 

But it has not been easy.

27th September – First match point

Almost there.

The good climatic conditions of the last few days meant the researchers were able to accelerate the ice core drilling operations. The top of the ice core drilling system is currently located at a depth of 70 metres below the surface of the glacier. According to georadar measurements made in recent years (2008, 2009, 2010), the glacier’s depth was estimated at not more than 75 metres.

This is the “first match point” of our little adventure, as Paolo Gabrielli, team coordinator, told us, slightly moved, yesterday.

26 September – The ice cores !

The second day of work on the summit glacier of the Ortler mountain and 50 metres of ice cores have already been extracted (See the picture gallery).

The favourable weather conditions have allowed the researchers to speed up operations.

No particular problems have been detected so far and the health of the personnel present on the mountain is also good. They are being constantly monitored by the medical team of EURAC’s Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine. Their work also involves collecting medical and scientific information that could help to better understand altitude sickness and particularly pulmonary oedema.

24 September – From the camp

We publish today the first pictures of the camp on the glacier of the Ortler mountain. (See the picture gallery of the base camp)

The particularly favourable  meteorological conditions (sun and no wind) have allowed the researchers to work well. Yesterday they were already able to fix the tent over the metal structure that contains the ice perforation system. It was fixed as high as possible and very close to the upper edge of the glacier where, according to the plan, the first ice core will be extracted.