On May 29, 2016, the Peruvian engineer César Augusto Portocarrero Rodríguez has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal. He will receive the award in Kathmandu (Nepal) on December 11, 2016, during the International Mountain Day.
Sir Edmund Hillary, founding member and honorary president of Mountain Wilderness, created the award in 2003, to distinguish people having performed “remarkable service in the conservation of culture and nature in mountainous regions”.
César Portocarrero is a specialist of glacial lakes outburst floods (GLOFs). Glaciers’ fronts regression triggered by climate change results in the growth of moraine-dammed lakes. The breaking of these dams provokes catastrophic flooding of the downstream valleys. As Director of the Peruvian Institute of Glaciology and Water Resources, Portocarrero directed eighteen GLOF hazard mitigation projects.
Portocarrero has designed mitigation projects that not only reduce the levels of swelling lakes but create and manage reservoirs, irrigation, water distribution, and drainage so as to use resources prudently and equitably. He is now working with the High Mountain Adaptation Partnership (HiMAP) in the Hindu-Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya range.
The Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal is awarded by the Nepalese NGO Mountain Legacy. The preceding recipient, in 2013, was Harshwanti Bisht, the first Indian woman to summit the Nanda Devi.