The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

How melting glaciers are revealing Swiss secrets

  • By Paige Baschuk
  • 10 August 2022
How melting glaciers are revealing Swiss secrets

Alpinists have been warned against climbing glaciers this summer, as soaring temperatures have made for dangerous conditions.

Two French hikers this week discovered human remains while scaling the Chessjen glacier in canton Valais, local police report.

A long, hot Alpine summer has caused many Swiss glaciers to melt and reveal its secrets.

Valais findings

The alpinists were using an old path along the glacier. The path fell into disuse more than a decade ago, so the hikers were likely using an antiquated map, Dario Andenmatten, the warden of the nearby Britannia mountain hut, told The Guardian. After authorities were notified, police airlifted the human remains out the same day.

The remains were likely from “sometime in the 1970s or 1980s,” according to Andenmatten, as only the bones remained. Officials say it will take time to identify the remains through DNA analysis.

A guide to Switzerland’s hiking culture

How melting glaciers are revealing Swiss secrets

Switzerland’s most famous peak — the Matterhorn — can be seen from a hiking trail in Zermatt.

Zermatt findings

The shocking discovery wasn’t the first of its kind this summer in Switzerland.

Another skeleton was found in the melting Stockji glacier near Zermatt a week earlier. While police say they are still identifying the remains in that case as well, German media has already reported that the body belonged to wealthy supermarket chain owner Karl-Erivan Haub who went missing in 2018. Haub, who held U.S., German and Russian passports, was last seen training for a ski tour in Zermatt on April 7, 2018.

Swiss Police have kept a record of about 300 people who have gone missing in the Alps since 1925. Haub was declared legally dead in 2021.

Meanwhile, local newspaper Blick tells a different story. That newspaper reports that the hikers found an “almost complete” mummified corpse wearing neon-colored clothing from the 1980s, according to one of the hikers, Luc Lechanoine.

How melting glaciers are revealing Swiss secrets

The Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch peaks are some of the most famous in Switzerland.

Jungfrau findings

Yet another discovery was made in August – this time the wreckage from a small plane that crashed in the Aletsch glacier in June, 1968. The glacier lies between the Jungfrau and Mönch peaks.

“From afar, I thought I was looking at two backpacks,” hiker Dominik Nellen told The Guardian. When he got closer he found pieces of a Piper Cherokee plane that went missing in 1968. On board was a teacher, a doctor and his son, all traveling from Zürich.

That same year their bodies were recovered, but the plane was left.

After a winter with little snowfall and a summer heatwave, Swiss glaciers have been melting at a more rapid rate in 2022. In July, Swiss officials advised against hikers and alpinists scaling the Matterhorn.

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

 

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