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Mountain Stories Winner

Website Palcacocha 01 NielsAckerman

1. Juan Victor Morales, the guardian of Palcacocha, inspects the
siphons that keep the lake at its current level.



Waiting for the flood

Photo and caption by Niels Ackerman

Category: Mountain Stories

Location: Huaraz, Peru


The peruvian city of Huaraz is in a paradoxically dangerous situation.

 The valley located between Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra of which Huaraz is the administrative center had always been exposed to dramatic and devastating floods caused by unstable glacial lakes.

Website Palcacocha 02 NielsAckerman

2. Despite the danger, the city of Huaraz continues to attract people
from the countryside. Since the 40's, its population has multiplied by 5.

Website Palcacocha 03 NielsAckerman

3. Alejandro Mejia, assistant operator for the center of operations of
Defensia Civil of Ancash department.


Website Palcacocha 04 NielsAckerman

4. Nicolasa Tolentina Palacios Gamarra (64 years old) and her
granddaughter. She shares her small house 20 meters away
from river Qillqay with seven relatives.She’d love to move to
a more secure part of the city but cannot afford it as prices
went up very quickly during the last twenty years.

Website Palcacocha 05 NielsAckerman

5. When the last flood caused by Palcacocha occurred in Huaraz, in
1941, the population of the city was approximately 35’000 people. Now,
the city is between 150’000 and 180’000 people and counting.


Website Palcacocha 06 NielsAckerman

6. Lake Palcacocha grew 34 times since 1970. Now, a siphon stops its evolution.

In 1941, half of the city was destroyed by a mudslide of lake Palcacocha and more than 5'000 people died. In 1970, a neighboring town got completely destroyed by another mudslide, killing its 20'000 inhabitants. 

Since the 70's, the lake Palcacocha volume increased by a factor 34, and the population of Huaraz is now 5 times bigger than it used to be in 41. Experts predict that if a new mudslide occurs, it may kill 20 to 25 thousand people. 

With it's rich mining activity, the municipality of Huaraz has the ressources to solve the problem. And different engineers already described adequate solutions, some of which are already successfully implemented in neighboring villages. But the only measure Huaraz government decided to take was to stop the expension of the dangerous lake by building a giant siphon and to install a guard with a satellite phone leading nowhere. Nothing is planned to answer the dreadful call. No sirens, no evacuation roads, no trainings, no public information.

 Despite the fact that reasonable solutions are available, Huaraz still lives under the constant threat of a lake that global warming has made bigger and more dangerous than ever.

 Sustainable Mountains Winner

Website 1 IMG 9956 AntonTimoshenko

 Alternative in Action, Roshorv village, Pamir.


Cook with the sun on the roof of the world

Photo and caption by Anton Timoshenko

Category: Sustainable Mountains

Location: Bartang Valley, Pamir


Anton works in an environmental organization "Little Earth" in Tajikistan and they are mainly focused on two fields – sustainable energy and climate change. Their Clean Energy Project (in Pamir) provides a package of technologies and alternatives, including efficiency stoves, solar water heaters, solar cookers, 1 kW solar photovoltaic systems and etc.So that they help local people to improve quality of life, providing new incomes and save spare time and quality of health, also they demonstrate the benefits of use of such technologies. On this picture you can see the owners of new solar cookers in Bartang Valley, Pamir.


 Dynamic Mountains Winner

Website SarahBittel DyanimcMountains 3

 Reservoir lake, providing water for the snow cannons.


Alpine Artefact

Photo and caption by Sarah Bittel

Category: Dynamic Mountains

Location: Aletsch Ski Station, Fiesch, Switzerland


The human being remains present, even in his or her non-presence, through traces left embedded in the ground as well as indications of human activity covering the alpine area. Within the definite context of a ski station, Sarah Bittel witness a mountain scenery created by left over installations set up by human beings, softly covered in snow and therefore integrating in a picture of a mountainous environment. Expanding installations furthermore change the perception of a former untouched area and start changing our vision of the alpine mountains: the formerly wild and hardly accessible peaks are now in reach for a broad mass of paying tourists.
Pieces of construction emerge through the white mass of snow and kindle our imagination. The ‘white stains’ are replaced by our own images due to the lack of clear visual information and therefore let us decode the indications within these images, resulting in an open-ended process of interpretation.