The Next Glacier Season

Dufourspitze, Switzerland (15,203′) in April. While there are glaciers in there, most of the white stuff is seasonal snow.

Not exactly the same view, though a similar area. Matterhorn, Switzerland in early September with no seasonal snow. This differential is the primary reason for choosing summer to view glaciers.

As the next glacier season approaches in a few months, my mind has been focusing on the many mountain ranges that I would like to be visiting. There is a lifetime of glaciers to chase and photograph from northern Alaska to the tip of Argentina, among many other places. It does present a tad of anxiety that they are melting as we speak; yet one can only be in a single place at one time.

At the moment, the sole aircraft available for glacier photography is located in the Alps. Through 2020, the Bernese Alps, Pennine and Lepontine Alps of Italy and Switzerland, and Massif du Mont Blanc have been photographed. That leaves the glaciers south of the Massif du Mont Blanc and east of roughly Andermatt, Switzerland. That is a lot of surface area, though the biggest glaciers of the Alps have been documented already.

I was somewhat remiss to be “stuck” in Central Europe due to COVID. While I am looking over the horizon to get established in Canada and also to explore the icy regions of Scandinavia, travel is much too difficult.

A recent article in The Guardian reminded me that the Alps are an ideal location to be at the moment. I have at least 50% of them to photograph, and they are melting at double the global average. To quote Romain Hugonnet of the University of Toulouse: “The glaciers in the Alps are not thick and are [some of the] fastest melting in the world. That will continue until there is nothing left. How fast depends on different climate scenarios, but at current speed, 80-90% will be gone by 2050. That means we will lose almost everything, except the biggest glaciers.”

So, preparations are in order to launch a photographic attack of the Alps this summer. While I would like to get absolutely every last remaining glacier, weather, maintenance, and COVID-19 restrictions will dictate if I can get it done. At the very least, I would like to complete everything in Switzerland, and all glaciers south of the Massif du Mont Blanc. Time will tell.