When did I decide to move to the USA for five years? To be honest I’m not quite sure, from the outset opportunity to be paid to work in the mountains of Colorado and research glaciers, snow and ice was something I couldn’t ever pass up.
Months on from that decision and i’m now three weeks into my first semester here and it’s safe to say that I don’t regret it at all. I’m working at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a partnership institution between CU Boulder and NOAA, where I am part of the Earth Science and Observation Center. The center is focussed on studying and monitoring the earth using a variety of remote sensing techniques. I am currently looking at surging glaciers in Svalbard and GPS elevation changes in Antarctica, with opportunities over the next five years to potentially study much of the cryosphere of the planet.
Not only is Boulder home to numerous world class research institutions which is great from a science point of view, it also has the small advantage of being located at the base of the front range of the Rocky Mountains! Almost every weekend since i’ve been here i’ve been able to head outside into the mountains. Our graduate orientation trip took us to Eldorado Canyon (home to some of the best rock climbing in the region) and the university owned mountain research station at Niwot Ridge.
I’ve also been able to head across the continental divide, visiting towns such as Keystone, Frisco and Leadville (home to a huge Molybdenum mine). This weekend I hiked to Chasm Lake, an alpine lake set against the backdrop of the Diamond the sheer cliff which makes up the east face of Longs Peak – the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness at 14,259 ft. Now that Autumn has come the aspens are changing into their golden and red colors, and the mountains will quickly become home to some of the best snow sports in the USA, a welcome change to the icy ski resorts of Scotland!