Thirty years ago, this shot couldn’t have existed. Even just a few years back, photographer Reuben Wu explains, “where I was standing would have been under tons of ice.” Located about six hours north of Lima, in the Cordillera Blanca range, the Pastoruri glacier was nearly twice its current size as recently as the 1990s; now, much of the area has been replaced by this lake of meltwater, and the ice that remains belongs to one of the last glaciers in the tropical latitudes of South America.
Wu, a member of the British electronic band Ladytron, traveled to Pastoruri in late June for his Lux Noctis project, in which he captures landscapes lit by drones. “There are areas of the ice which show extensive surface ablation,” he says. “But I chose to focus on the remaining grandeur and scale of the landscape.” With the steady shrinking of Andean glaciers, it’s rare to see even a third of the 100,000 annual visitors Pastoruri welcomed at its touristic peak; it’s now being marketed as the “climate change glacier.”
“I think this glacier will disappear soon,” Wu says. “But maybe in the future we can learn from the demise of these places and force ourselves to change. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to document this place before it disappears, so that others can witness its devastating beauty.”
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Hemispheres is the award-winning onboard magazine for United Airlines. The magazine is published by Ink and produced by a dedicated staff of media professionals out of an Ink satellite office in Brooklyn, New York.