Mountaineers climb mountains. Cavers explore caves. Surveyors measure and map. In Oregon, a small team of people with all three sets of skills and passions has been exploring caves under the Sandy Glacier, on the northwest side of Mt. Hood, two-thirds up the 11,250-foot mountain.
To assist them, they recruited glaciologists, geologists, and invertebrate collectors to provide scientific advice, as well as dozens of volunteer “sherpas” from the local mountaineering, mountain rescue, and caving communities to carry nearly 2,000 pounds of equipment 3,800 feet up the snow- and ice-covered mountain. The result, so far, is a set of maps, measurements, and photographs—many of them spectacular—that describe a dying glacier and document the glacier caves before these majestic natural structures are gone forever.