Nico Hojac at a hut on the Aletsch Glacier.

When Nico Hojac was 15 years old, he went on a language exchange to Val Ferret. But instead of learning French, he discovered his passion for the mountains. As we traverse the Konkordiaplatz glacier roped together, Nico guides us with ease; his experience, knowledge and devotion to the mountains obvious. Resting at a safe point on our route, Nico tells us how his sport and profession are at risk from climate change.

Three people walking in the snow
Together for Glaciers: Nico Hojac Is Climate Change’s Eyewitness

How are you changing climate and melting glaciers affecting alpinism?

Nico Hojac in Mammut ski equipment.
Nico HojacAlpinist

Mountaineering will become more dangerous in the future. As permafrost begins to thaw, it will cause more and more rockfalls, which can be fatal. The melting glaciers also often leave behind rubble and scree, making routes and access more difficult. Plus, climate change is not only causing the glaciers to melt, it is also causing the weather to become more erratic and extreme which makes climbing windows harder to predict. 


You've been inspired to reduce your carbon footprint. What changes have you made to your lifestyle?

Nico Hojac in Mammut ski equipment.
Nico HojacAlpinist

It’s difficult to feel like you’re making a difference as an individual, but you can’t lose hope. Every action matters, big or small. I’ve decided for myself that I will only go on an expedition once a year and will try to avoid flying as much as possible. The three main things I think most people can do as an individual are: eat less meat, fly less, and vote, vote, vote.

How important is awareness of the issue for creating change?

Nico Hojac in Mammut ski equipment.
Nico HojacAlpinist

I think it's important to address these problems and share them with people. It is not about just saving the mountains but the whole planet. The effects we see in glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg. That's why I'm also campaigning for NGOs like Protect Our Winters and giving talks about the problem. The more people know, the better their decisions will be, and the better hope we have at solving this crisis.