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Dossen Glacier Garden in Zermatt: easily accessed, rugged nature

The Dossen Glacier Garden in Zermatt has been made richer by a huge attraction. The newly constructed hanging bridge over the Gornera Gorge makes it easier and quicker to reach the glacier garden. The bridge will be opened on Saturday, 18 June 2011, signalling the completion of another stage of development in the glacier garden. 

“The Dossen Glacier Garden above Furi is Switzerland’s largest glacier garden,” says Zermatt Municipal Councillor, Dany Biner. In May 2011, the Lauber Seilbahnen Company from Frutigen installed the 100-metre-long hanging bridge, 50 metres above the gorge, opening up the route over the Gornera from unteren Gandegg to Dossen. This provides easier and shorter access to the around 20 glacier potholes, soapstone quarry and barbecue spot with a new forest playground. Soapstone is also known as potstone, steatite or saponite. The hanging bridge is reached in about 15 minutes from the top station of the Furi aerial cableway. The glacier garden is some 10 minutes from the bridge. 

Potholes, polished rock, erratic boulders 
The glacier garden in Zermatt provides an insight into a primeval mountain world at the foot of the Gorner Glacier, the second-longest glacier in the Alps. You hear the rush of water. Pioneer trees, mainly larch and a few stone pines, provide shade and erratic boulders are scattered overall in the woodland. The glacier potholes were created by meltwater rushing at up to 200 km/h, which carried detritus. Information panels explain the process of erosion. Rock outcrops and ledges bear evidence of polishing by the glaciers. 

A tour of the glacier garden reveals the authenticity of the landscape. At the same time, it is also easily accessible: “The paths are secured and made safe with logs and lead to the glacier potholes,” says hiking guide Peter Bittel, who knows all about the paths, walkways, fauna and flora in the surroundings of Zermatt. He is always pleased to guide those interested through the glacier garden and to explain the landscape. 

The barbecue spot with forest playground is an inviting place to enjoy a break. A study also emphasises that the glacier garden is not a place that needs to be staged but a mountain landscape “that speaks for itself and waits to be discovered”. More phases of development in the glacier garden are planned, to make the landscape more understandable for the layman. A rough concept has been prepared. Envisaged are further subtle and sensitive presentations of the garden, with themes including glaciology, geology and biology as well as culture (soapstone quarry) and hydropower. At some time the offer will be rounded off with information via smartphone applications. The work should be completed in two to three years.
The Alps – a glacier landscape 
There are only a few glacier gardens in Switzerland. One is located in Maloja (Gletschertöpfe-Reservat Belvedere) and one in Cavaglia/Poschiavo in the Puschlav. The glacier garden in Lucerne is the best known and attracts over 160,000 visitors every year. Few glacier potholes can be seen here but they are spectacular. Numerous models and paintings of the Zermatt mountain world are displayed in the museum integrated into the glacier garden. The neighbouring Alpineum shows the “stars” of the Alps: the Gorner Glacier, Monte Rosa massif, Gornergrat, Breithorn and Matterhorn, on a three-dimensional painting. The glacier garden in Zermatt lives from its untouched, natural state. Anyone wanting to experience this glacier landscape will find peace and seclusion here. 

Geological excursions 
Guided 1-day geological excursions take place in Zermatt every Wednesday from 20.7. to 17.8.2011. They start at 08.30 h from the tourist office, price CHF 20 excluding rail or cableway trip. The excursions lead from the Gornergrat via Riffelberg to the glacier garden and on to Furi. 

Reservations by 17.30 h on the previous day.
Telephone 027 966 81 00.

Zermatt Tourismus | Tel +41 27 966 81 00 | info@zermatt.ch