The Great Outdoors (UK)
The Vanishing Ice
FOR YEARS, Iain Cameron has been recording snow patches in the Scottish hills that last into summer and sometimes right through the year. From noting patches for his own interest he has become an expert researcher, writing regular reports for the Royal Meteorological Society and co-ordinating other snow researchers.
The Vanishing Ice is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary subject. Why would someone take a tape measure on a risky walk into remote mountains to measure a shrinking patch of old snow? This book gives the answer, and will I’m sure inspire many others to join the author’s band of snow patch aficionados, of which I confess I am one – though without his dedication or expertise.
A book on snow patches might appear to have a narrow focus, but not so –it is wide-ranging and full of interest. The story of how Cameron became intrigued by snow patches and how he began to record them is fascinating. Laced throughout the volume are many exciting and often hazardous adventures in the hills visiting snow remnants located high in hard-to-reach gullies and lying on steep, icy slabs. It is not easy work but it does take the author into spectacular, rarely visited places and his love of these shines through.
Inevitably in a book on snow, climate change rears its head and Cameron covers the decline in the survival of snow patches, showing how the data demonstrates this clearly. This is a sad, reflective section. Overall, though, the book’s tone is life-affirming and positive. He is someone doing what he loves in the mountains and making a contribution to knowledge as he does so. This particularly comes out in the chapters on the areas where snow lies late, in Scotland and south of the border. From Aonach Mor to a cave in the Peak District (yes, really!) the author takes us on a grand tour of snow patches, with much geographical information and historical research thrown in.
The book features excellent photographs showing snow patches and the remote, awkwardto-reach places many are found. Especially dramatic and beautiful are those of snow tunnels.
The Vanishing Ice is an outstanding book that I really enjoyed. It’s highly recommended for anyone interested in the hills and in snow.