Jason Paterniti, MN’10, carried Explorers Club Flag 24 on a February 2010 expedition to the Cochamo Valley region of Chile to identify previously undocumented stands of the endangered Alerce tree (Fitzroya Cupressoides).
The expedition covered an area of 5,400 square kilometers involving travel on horseback over the Andes Mountains , as well as by foot, boat and truck along their route. The expedition successfully located two sites it had identified for study. Within these areas, the team identified and catalogued over 50 Alerce including seven estimated to be at least 2,500 to 3,500+ years old.
Unfortunately, the Feb. 27th 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake, which occurred north of the area being explored, ended the expedition before it was completed. Expedition members felt the tremors but the quake didn’t cause serious damage in their location. However, the guides were from the area that suffered some of the worst quake damage and the expedition was suspended to focus on trying to reach family members and friends.
“The giant Alerce tree rumored to exist deep in the forest continues to elude us” the expedition’s report says. A third expedition is being planned for November 2010, during the Southern Hemisphere spring.