“The Gorner Glacier Through the Ages”

17/06/2016

The new Zermatt theme trail shows the changing history of the Gornergletscher. The hike goes southeast from Furi towards the tip of the Gornergletscher. It is impressive how far this once huge glacier has retreated in the past 150 years.

Beginning this summer, the changes brought about by climate change in the Alpine area can be observed precisely through one of the huge glaciers. The beginning of the theme trail is in Furi. From there, one follows the signed trail for at least one hour of walking to reach the present area at the end of the glacier. The Gornergletscher is the second largest ice field in the Alps. In 1869, the tip of the glacier was located in Schweigmatten near Furi. 

Glacier History Worth Seeing

Two Zermatt citizens dedicated their time to realising this latest theme trail: Klaus Julen and Othmar Perren. The scientific basis was provided by the geographer Hanspeter Holzhauser. The Zermatt Bergbahnen helped make sure this project moved forward. The information signs along the theme trail explain these facts, among others:

  • During the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850/60) the expansion of the glacier was the greatest with the furthest point reached in 1859
  • In 1859, the glacier reached Schweigmatten and buried a dozen stalls under the mass of ice
  • The retreat of the glacier began in 1865. Until now, it has become 3,120 m shorter.
  • The glacier section between Riffelhorn and Schweigmatten used to be called Bodengletscher. There is no more ice visible in this zone today.

Theme Trail Information

  • 10 signs with information in German and English
  • QR codes on the signs have additional information in Italian and French as well
  • Hiking time scarcely 3 hours