It’s been a few weeks of heat wave here in Switzerland. With thermometers over 30º, it’s hard to go outside during the day, and even harder to sleep well at night… I’d never had imagined that summers in Switzerland could be so hot!!! Apparently, this is being an unusual summer, very hot and dry. I kind of miss those afternoon thunderstorms that refreshed the atmosphere after a hot day during last year’s summer…
Fortunately, Switzerland is a land of contrast. While it’s hot in the lowlands, you can always find nearby some places to cool down. This is the case of the trip I made two weeks ago. It was hot and sunny in the city, so we jumped in the car and went to the mountains. The destination: ICE!!!! We visited the Rhône Glacier in the Valais Alps, source of the river Rhône. This glacier is very easily reachable by car, as it is very close to the road of Furka Pass and visiting it is a very peculiar experience. Why? Because every year since 1870, a cave of about 100 m is cut into the glacier, so you can walk inside the blueish centenary glacier ice!!
Well, this is not the typical hike we make every weekend, I know. But the trip to the glacier itself is quite an adventure. From Zurich, you drive past the always beautiful Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) and soon you drive between the imposing Alps, now in summer covered with deep green forests. Then, the Andermatt green valley opens in front of you and it’s not long before you’re driving up into the Furka Pass, one of the most beautiful roads in Switzerland that only opens for a few months (and famous because it was one of the locations of a James Bond film, Goldfinger). And then, just after you drive the highest point of Furka Pass (at 2429 m above sea level), you see the famous abandoned hotel Belvedere and the Glacier Rhône.
The story of the Glacier Rhône is a sad one. Although it is still 8 km long, it has lost more than 1.5 km since 1870. It is estimated that it will lose 50% of its ice volume by 2050 and be down to 10% of its present volume by 2100. You can see how much it has changed since 1870 here, and in the last 11 years here. It’s frightening!!! These days, the glacier moves around 30/40 m every year, and around 12 cm every day, so the cave has to be dug new every year, and at the end of the summer it loses almost 30% due to melting of the ice.
After visiting the glacier, we continued driving along other impressive mountain pass: the Grimselpass, before taking the road to home.
Here are some photos I took that day. I hope you like them… and they refresh you! 😉