It’s negative 6⁰F. Winds blowing 45 mph. Snow Showers. 18,000 feet elevation. Location, Mt. Everest. Cue Hari Mix. Mountaineer and Environmental Earth System Scientist, in no particular order.
Hari recently returned from an expedition to Mt. Everest, which was unfortunately cut short by a powerful avalanche, triggered by a collapsing glacier. Due to the aftermath and devastation of this natural disaster, he and his team were forced to abandon their trek and return to sea level.
Many people travel for vacation, to relax, and take time away from their jobs. While Hari also travels to get out of the rhythm of everyday life, he also travels because of something deeper. His experience in and connection with mountain landscapes have shaped a strong emotional and spiritual connection with these environments. Discovering new cultures and people has opened his mind more. He enjoys working on complicated problems with local people. And he looks forward to breaching his comfort zone, embracing the unknown aspect characteristic of his travels. Spending a lot of time in mountain landscapes, Hari has been able to see certain effects of climate change firsthand. Mountain ranges are changing, evident even to the naked eye. Some are no longer climbable, and topography maps are being altered frequently.
In the upcoming academic year, Hari will be an Assistant Professor with the Environmental Studies and Sciences Department (ESS). Hari will be teaching SLURP 95 as well as a new ESS course on climate change. Passion for both mountain landscapes and travel fuel Hari’s adventures and studies around the U.S. and abroad. Originally from Virginia, his love for the mountains stem from his childhood. The Mix family took road trips to the Rocky Mountains, where he remembers seeing Longs Peak for the first time with his dad. To this day, mountain landscapes have resonated deeply with Hari, and Longs Peak is still one of his favorite mountains to visit. As a competitive runner in high school and college, Hari had the opportunity to visit new places with the cross country and track teams, which inspired his interest in travel. He credits his family trips and running career as major inspirations for his mountaineering and research endeavors today.
Hari’s academic interests in Earth Science developed as he travelled as a child and even more so as an undergraduate and graduate at Stanford. He studied Geological and Environmental Sciences as an undergraduate, and is currently concluding his Ph.D. studies in Environmental Earth System Science. Hari has dedicated many years of fieldwork and study in mountain environments, both nationally and internationally.
Hari lives a sustainable lifestyle at home, and carries these principles with him abroad as well. During his travels, Hari uses all solar power for his communications. A backup generator is brought along for emergencies, but solar is the primary source. This requires Hari to be cognizant of the weather patterns. Hari strives to reduce his environmental impact whenever possible, but because air travel has very high fossil fuel emissions, his trips abroad add a substantial amount of carbon to his footprint. To mitigate this impact, Hari offsets his flights through the Nature Conservancy, which helps fund projects designed to prevent emissions of carbon dioxide and reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
Hari plans about one big trip a year to high mountains. In the past five years his travel has been concentrated in Asia, specifically the Himalayas (three times), the Pamir Mountains, and the Tien Shan mountains. This adds up to spending a couple months a year in a sleeping bag, which he looks forward to as a time for growth and reflection. For example, from his travels so far, he feels better at thinking on his feet and has more confidence. Always on a trip or planning for the next one, Hari keeps busy year round. His latest adventure is a climbing trip in Denali National Park, Alaska. One tip he has for anyone visiting a new place - find a good place to eat!
Contributed by Kelsey Baker ‘14, Intern, Communications