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Next to my love for desert, there is big love for glaciers. Standing next to such a mass of ice that was there for thousands of years definitely gives feeling of respect. You realise how small we are, might it be in actual size or call it life/time experience.

I've already seen glaciers in different places (Norway, Iceland, Alaska or Canada) but never had a chance to actually be inside of one. In my trip to Swiss I've discovered that you can experience it at Rhone Glacier/Rhonegletscher near the Furka Highway.

The upper end of the Rhone valley are the Dammastock mountains. The road, which followed the Rhone uphill, divides now into two branches, one going up the Grimsel pass (2165m asl.) to the north, the other one going up the Furka pass (2431m asl.) to the east. Inbetween lies the Rhone Glacier, one of the big glaciers of the Alps. The melting water of this glacier are the spring of the Rhone.

The warm climate of the last 100 years, maybe partly produced by man and his air pollution, is the reason for the shrinking glaciers of the world. And the Rhone Glacier is no exception. His end is today 200m higher than it was at the beginning of the century.

Inside the glacier is a tourist attraction, called Eisgrotte Rhonegletscher (Ice Cave Rhone Glacier). Despite the name it is an artificial glacier cave, as it is located inside the ice of a glacier. An ice cave is defined as a cave in rocks containing ice.

This cave is artificial, dug out by four men, which takes one month. And this work has to be repeated every year, as the glacier moves all the time, at a speed of about 30 to 40 meters per year, destroying the cavern slowly. New ice is formed by snow on top of the glacier, moving slowly downhill until it melts at the lower end. Also the seasons of the year have an influence on the glacier. But all those processes are very slow, making the ice of the glacier with its content of dust and pollen from the air, an ideal archive of vegetation from the last some 100,000 years.

It is easy to understand, why the scientists use this cave, but it is also a tourist attraction. To walk through a bluegreen tunnel, glowing from the sunlight outside, is very impressive.

This link gives you 360 view at the glacier:
http://www.panodrom.de/Alpen/rhone.html

L.

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Additional Photos by Lucie CzNLUkKw (lucinka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 135 N: 1821] (9976)
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