Swiss mountain pass resurfaces after 2.000 years under glacier

Swiss mountain pass resurfaces after 2.000 years under glacier

After more than 2.000 years under the ice, an ancient pass through the Swiss mountains has recently reappeared. Once under metres of glacial ice, the recent heatwaves and dry weather in Switzerland have allowed the Col de Zanfleuron to reveal itself as part of the melting Scex Rouge glacier.

Col de Zanfleuron in Switzerland revealed after 2.000 years under the ice

According to the University of Bern, the Col de Zanfleuron - a pass between Canton Vaud and Valais on the Scex Rouge glacier - had been covered by ice for at least 2.000 years. Despite still being under 15 metres of ice in 2012, experts say the pass will become fully visible by the end of September this year.

Mauro Fischer, from the Geographical Institute in Bern, told 20 minuten that a combination of climate change, dry winters and continually hot summers have accelerated glacial melting in Switzerland, which helps reveal new mountain passes. He forecast that in areas of Valais, glaciers will melt three times faster this year than in the last 10 summers.

New mountain passes causing a headache for Swiss ski resorts

The decline of the glacier and the emergence of the pass are also causing a headache for the local ski resort. Les Diablerets is already “planning to renew the systems in this area over the next few years" to cope with the changing landscape, according to cable car director Bernhard Tschannen. If nothing is done, the Scex Rouge glacier is expected to melt entirely and become a lake in the next 10 to 15 years.

According to 20 minuten, the operations of the ski resort are not to blame for the glacier melt - with ski operations actually projected to slow the melt of the glacier. To prevent the Scex Rouge from being lost to the history books, the resort is now planning to build a huge tarpaulin that would cover the glacier during the spring and summer months.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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