Lines in the Snow

_ds84681Surveying the view from 10,700ft up, at the Matterhorn Hut, I looked down on the Furgg Glacier – or what remains of it. Glaciers in the Alps are in retreat, quite dramatically in places, as clear evidence of climate change.

Mention the word ‘Glacier’ to many people and they think of ribbons of pristine whiteness with the occasional knife-like slash – evidence of a crevasse. In reality, in summer, glaciers tend to be nothing like that – usually dirty grey in colour and conveyor belts of rock debris. The image above is a view down onto the Furgg Glacier through a long lens – 375mm. In processing I have upped the contrast for aesthetic reasons.

The whitish areas are where snow is still lying, covering the underlying glacial ice. The grey areas are where the snow has melted revealing the ice – criss-crossed with crevasses which are formed where the ice has buckled and become distorted due to changes in the gradient of the underlying slope.

The image is semi-abstract. What attracts my attention the most are the lines that run through the image. Almost like contour lines drawn by an unseen hand. What has created these lines? The answer is that they are evidence of the tracks of stones, rocks, debris, dirty snow that has rolled, slid, trickled down the steep glacial slope cutting grooves in the snow cover.

The image below, zoomed-out, shows the proximity of a rock wall above the glacier that is the source of much of the debris. I don’t recall seeing a glacier quite so precisely etched as this one ever before.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'.
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16 Responses to Lines in the Snow

  1. shoreacres says:

    It’s interesting to compare these glaciers with those in Alaska’s Glacier Bay. It was the color that I remember as being the most memorable: beautiful blues of several shades. The calving was amazing, and the expanse impressive, but: that color! It’s a reminder that even ice is shaped by its environment.

    The lines in the first photo give it a very appealing, etching-like appearance.


  2. Adrian Lewis says:

    Striking, Andy – and perfect for mono. Adrian


  3. Chillbrook says:

    Fascinating images Andy. Very striking. I definitely prefer glaciers in winter having seen the dirty grey you speak of in summer and the intense blues of every shade visible in winter. That said, these images are stunning.


    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. I agree, in winter the glaciers look like they have always looked (albeit shorter). These images were quite a surprise, It always pays to look at life through a long lens every now and then.


  4. Stunning image, Andy. And informative narrative. Thank you!


  5. Sue says:

    Striking images, Andy.


  6. Meanderer says:

    What interesting images! They remind me of woodcuts.


  7. I’ve loved reading your last couple of blogs so I feel its time I told you. I hope I can muster enough adjectives and write something as magical as you.


  8. Louise says:

    I really love those ‘etched’ lines . Fascinating pictures Andy , they somehow remind me of illustrations from old encyclopaedias – you’ve given us the information too !


    • LensScaper says:

      Yes, it certainly looked like the snow was etched by a giant unseen hand. I was standing at the Matterhorn Hut when I took this shot. Thinking of Whymper and the tragic first ascent. Whymper originally came to the Alps to etch for a London publisher in 1860 and fell in love with the mountains.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. utsavpathak4 says:

    nice post


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