I write this post from Spain. I’ve been here already for a few weeks, enjoying my time with family and friends. The weather is warm, the days are still long… I’ve been at the beach, I’ve explored a few new places and I’m having a great time just relaxing at home. But some part of me misses Switzerland and the mountains… So here’s a post about one of the summer hikes we did in August!

My brother and his wife visited us in early August. After taking them to Lauterbrunnen (where I’ve been already 4 times in less than 2 years), we decided that it was time to innovate a bit, so we drove to a location new for all of us: Susten Pass. This mountain pass is located between the cantons of Uri and Bern at 2260m above the sea level. This is one of the newest mountain passes built in Switzerland: it opened in 1945 and its purpose is mainly touristic. This is the reason why this mountain pass is closed for most part of the year and it’s usually one of the last to be cleared of snow. Despite this, Susten pass is a stunning road, with multiple tight curves that take you from the beautiful green meadows of the Meien valley in the Uri side to the impressive views of the Steingletscher and the Gadmen valley in the Bernese side of the pass.

We decided to go to Susten Pass for two reasons. The first and main one, the glacier. Not long after you pass over the mountain pass, you can see the impressive glacier and the first of its glacier lakes from the road. The second reason, is that there’s an Alpine Käserei (where you can buy one of the best alpine cheeses I’ve tried so far, as well as delicious yogurt and ice cream) at the beginning of the hiking trail that takes you to the glacier. We started the hike at the Käserei. An easy route took us to the first glacier lake, a small lake of an incredible light blue. From there, we hiked up to the moraines of the Steingletscher following the Steinwasser: a beautiful green meadow full of tiny lakes, cottongrass flowers and marmots at the foot of the mountains crowned by the Steingletscher. Hiking a bit further, the path ended right at the the edge of the glacier. We could clearly see the trace of the old limit of the glacier, now a sad shadow of what it was a few years ago, and how another small glacier lake has formed above Steinsee. Even if the glacier has melted and shrunken, we could feel the icy glacier air while we admired the ice formations from the end of the trail. After a while, we headed back to the Käserei, where we greeted the cows that were grazing on the summer alpine pastures and bought alpine cheese (made with summer milk) and yogurt before driving back home.

Here are the photos of this beautiful trip to the Alps. A short, beautiful and very pedagogic hike where we could see again the devastating effects of global warming in the Swiss mountains. I hope you like them!

13 Comments

  1. Do you mean the retreating glaciers when you say the effects of global warming, Mercedes?

    • mercedescatalan

      Yes!! I know there are so many effects or evidences… but here in Switzerland, the melting and retreating glaciers are probably the most shocking effect! And I think it’s because the speed of that melting that makes it so impressing… it makes me so sad to think that my future kids won’t see all those impressive sights 😔

      • I can imagine it will be sad for your children not to experience the beauty of the glaciers. Potentially the rivers will also change colour if there is no ice water to feed into them?

        • mercedescatalan

          When I say “my kids” I really mean the next generation… hehehe (I don’t have any!).
          I don’t know if Swiss rivers and lakes will change color… I’ve seen some extincted glaciers and the lakes look still very milky and light blue or turquoise… But who knows! I guess the rivers and melted snow will still carry some of the sediments in the old glacier beds. But, of course, I’m just guessing, I don’t have any idea!!! Last week someone told me that, at least, I’m capturing the beauty of these glaciers before they are completely gone…

          • I am happy to hear the rivers will still carry some glacial sediments. Are there many extinct glaciers in Switzerland? How many have gone?

          • Uuummm I’m not sure how many of them are totally extinct. So far, I’ve been hiking in two that are completely gone: Pizolgletscher and Furggletscher (that one is at the foot of Matterhorn). In those two, you see the glacier bed, no ice at all! Only lakes and moraines and kind of a martian landscape… It’s quite a shocking view!! Impressive and at the same time, sad…

          • I feel saddened by that news too. Whilst over the passage of all time, it is perhaps a fluctuation, it is the fast pace of change in our lifetimes and the impacts of that on our lives that is of such concern. Plus that we as a species are contributing and exacerbating it. Martian landscapes are definitely not appealing.

          • Well, apparently there was a glacier age that ended in the XIX century. That’s when Swiss glaciers (and I imagine others in Europe) were at their largest… maybe this is just a cycle and we’re now at the hottest part of it… or we’re really destroying the planet… In any case, every little thing we do to preserve the environment is welcome!
            Uummm, some Martian landscapes can be very appealing too!! I remember when I went to Iceland a few years ago, those parts that of the country that were only lava, with no plants at all, were also impressive!! Although those landscapes are created by nature, not human intervention… There you can feel how strong and destructive nature can be!

          • I have been to Iceland, but in winter, so everything was covered in snow. Although, I could imagine what it was like. It is a spectacular country. I loved my time there.

          • It must be quite spectacular during winter… it’s still one of my dreams, visiting Iceland in winter and watching the northern lights….
            I went during summer… not northern lights or snow, but a lot of wild flowers, puffins and artic terns and a land of so many contrasts!! Every little part of the island is so different to the rest!! 🙂

          • No doubt, Iceland is a very special place and each season has its own peculiar attributes. I was only there for a week so just got a small glimpse of the Northern Lights but some experiences will live with me forever. For example, the Blue Lagoon draped in snow. You should absolutely should go back again!

  2. Again, beautiful photos! I think this post especially shows that global warming is real. It is sad that our future generations will not see this world as we have. But who knows what lies ahead for them? I’m hoping something just as beautiful.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Anne! I love your positivism! Yes, I guess even if the planet gets warmer, it will mean changes and maybe not all of them will be necessary bad… (I’m thinking about all that wildlife that now grows and flourish in Chernobyl, for example. A place that everybody though would be dead for hundreds of years is now bursting with wolves, foxes… living happily far from human presence). But the truth is that seeing these ice giants melt and shrink so fast is quite shocking! Who knows, maybe by posting this kind of photos I can make one person change his habits for the better… that would make me incredibly happy! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Anne Sandler Cancel reply