Ecuador | Climbed 10/12/2015
years until
glacier vanishes

The equator line runs literally right through Ecuador’s third highest mountain Cayambe (appropriately its name comes from the Quechua for “high, cold place”), making the mountain’s glaciers the only ones that actually straddle the equator, although they have retreated more than 50% in the past 30 years. Climate change is also reducing rainfall in the area, affecting many local small-scale farmers or campesinos, forcing them to choose between eating less or having less to sell to get basic necessities for their families when they have a bad harvest. Programmes such as World Food Program’s FORECCSA project (“Enhancing Resilience of Communities to the Adverse Effects of Climate Change on Food Security”) are helping people adapt to climate change by building reservoirs to store more water and introducing new crops such as the Lupini bean that are better suited to the changing climate. Ironically, the melt-water from the faster-melting glaciers are currently helping compensate for the lack of rainfall. But it cannot last.