For years, Medvezhy (the Bear) glacier, one of the more than 4000 in the Pamirs of Soviet Central Asia, has been studied intensively by researchers of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In the summer of 1973 their efforts were rewarded.
When Medvezhy once again began its sporadic and hitherto catastrophic slide toward the Vanch valley last May, it was fulfilling a prediction made by the scientists a year before. The government of Tajikistan had been warned, so that inhabitants of the danger zone, with their cattle and possessions, were relocated in ample time, and no deaths or injuries resulted. Steps were taken to avert or minimize the destruction attendant on similar slides in 1937, 1951, and 1963. But the mood of the Bear as he rose from hibernation in 1973 was no gentler than in those earlier years.