The Italian Almanac
Italian News - February 8
Italy has finished the huge task of hauling tonnes of measuring devices up Everest to build the world's highest station for analysing the atmosphere. According to project leader Agostino Da Polenza, one of the world's most respected high-altitude scientists, the new station will be a key instrument for measuring the huge industrial clouds blowing out of the fast-proliferating smoke stacks of China and India.
"This places us right at the forefront of international research," Da Polenza told a jubilant group of atmospheric scientists over a satellite phone link to Rome. Da Polenza said his team "worked like mules" to get the station up and running on schedule - despite a Himalayan storm that knocked part of the structure down last week.
The Italians had to work extra-hard to get the 18 tonnes of equipment in place. Because the measuring devices are so sensitive, they all had to be lugged up by hand. "The weather conditions couldn't have been worse but we managed to pull it off in the end," Da Polenza said. "My heart goes out to the Italian mountaineering teams and the technicians who worked like mad to make this happen - not forgetting the Nepalese bearers and workers without whom it wouldn't have been possible".
The new station is perched 5,050 metres up the world's highest mountain, right next to Italy's so-called 'Everest Pyramid'. The glass and aluminium Pyramid is an innovative research and observation centre first conceived by the late Ardito Desio, a world mountaineering legend.