An insight into life on the edge of the earth at Mountain Festival’s Polar Night

Photograph: Daniel Enchev (Flickr)

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Not all of the events at the Fort William Mountain Festival were about Ben Nevis, or even mountains writes Nic Goddard.

Or certainly not mountains as we think of them, or indeed the type that most attendees of the festival would consider interesting in terms of scaling high peaks.

Many of the highest peaks on the planet are hidden under thousands of metres of ice and are actually disguised as some of the flattest places on earth.

However it is the secrets harboured within their remarkable geology which may hold the key to the most pressing questions facing our world just now.

Namely the size, scale and timelines of the climate emergency and the links between melting ice caps at the poles, rising sea levels and global warming.

One of the many events at this years’ Mountain Festival was the Polar Night talk on Saturday February 22 at the Nevis Centre when speakers working in the Polar regions of Antarctica and the Arctic talked about their research work and what it’s like making your home at the most inhospitable and remote places on earth.

Scientists and researchers working for the British Antarctic Survey’s research bases talked about their work in these extreme places, explaining the value of their work, some of their findings, the challenges and purpose of their research and plenty of anecdotes about life in the poles.

All interspersed with plenty of amazing photos, videos and anecdotes about the behind the scenes stories of places most of us have only seen on TV documentaries about penguins and polar bears.

Geologist Alex Burton-Johnson, Glacilogists Rob Bingham and Andy Smith and Deputy Station Manager Ali Massey, film maker Kirk Watson shared stories and inspired and educated an audience in equal measures.

We certainly left this event feeling as though we had a better understanding of the ways science and scientists and researchers on the front line of climate change are increasing our understanding of what is happening now and what might happen in the future to our planet, using a blend of high tech, amazing science with ground breaking gadgets and ways of thinking combined with good old fashioned snow shovels.