Surveying 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.