Danish filmmaker and award-winning photographer Klaus Thymann is a true explorer and traveller. For his latest expedition with Project Pressure, Thymann geared up with Ørgreen’s snow goggles and brought them on a journey to the glaciers on top of Chimborazo – the highest mountain in Ecuador.
The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glaciers but due to global warming, Chimborazo glacier’s ice mass has decreased over the past decades. It is for this reason Thymann instigated Project Pressure back in 2008, and the organisation aims to document the Earth’s vanishing glaciers and record the environmental impact of climate change using photography and art to engage with as many people as possible.
Thymann documented his latest experience as he made his way to the top of Chimborazo. These amazing photographs are the result of his efforts.
What is your approach to photography?
I’ve always used my own curiosity as a starting point to engage with various subjects, so that has been my approach with photography since I started shooting and working professionally as a teenager. I never really got to study photography, I just started working. Landscapes and the out doors was always a big part of my images, but the mixing of environmental issues and consciousness became incorporated a bit more solidly as I completed a science degree a few years ago.
What inspired you to start working on Project Pressure?
I wanted to create a project that would inspire people to action. It is of course difficult to talk about climate change as it is a kind of depressing subject, but if we can create a positive touch point then hopefully that is a start.
The other point to make is that glaciers are good ways to visualise climate change as their fluctuations when viewed over a long period (years) can be 100% attributed to climate change. This goes for most, there are a few exceptions where other weather factors influence.
Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador, 6263 meters at the highest point. How did the high altitudes affect you?
A lot. That is the short answer. There is less than half the oxygen than at sea level and you can really feel it. You get out of breath super quickly, and it then becomes a little harder to walk up a mountain at this altitude.
Thymann captured this image of an ice storm approaching
Is there any specific preparation before you normally do before an expedition of this level?
There is a fair amount. I try to keep fit, like general fit, but leading up to an expedition I train more than normal – I swim, cycle and run. The other preparation involves planning. It sounds super obvious, but the planning is VERY important. I plan the trip so I can acclimatise properly, meaning that before summiting I slowly get to higher and higher altitude.
What were some of the biggest hurdles you faced on the Chimborazo?
A snowstorm hit us, so it wasn’t safe to head up when we planned and had to cancel the summit attempt. Luckily the next day was better, but there was a lot of fresh snow so it was heavy to walk up. A bit like walking in sand but then with not enough oxygen – it was tougher than a normal walk if you know what I mean.
How have the glaciers on top of Chimborazo been affected by climate change?
Most, if not all, equatorial glaciers are affected by climate change. The very top at above 6K is still cold, but the lover parts are getting warmer so the ice is receding upwards.
After walking for almost 8 hours Thymann made it all the way to the top – 6263 meters at the highest point.