Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Climate Change I: The Trient Glacier II

Another quick visit, August 2003


The Trient Glacier goes bye-bye

Tragic loss of still another Swiss glacier, in large part attributable to US automobile makers and Dick Cheney. Having recently recorded the retreat of the Trient Glacier (left, Jane & Marlowe 1986) near the Col de la Forclaz in Switzerland, through to July 2003 -- here -- we go back for another look in August 2003 to verify whether our teary eyes had not been playing tricks on us.


Since this was to be, however scenic, essentially a scientific expedition, chief investigator Prof. L. Durham brought along Dr André (Dante) to apply the scientific method when necessary, and Swiss-Californian Anne-Elisabeth and Californian aerospace-fellow Rob as qualified witnesses. And, of course, the rapporteur (D. Peck) as well.

Streams in full cry! When in this record-breaking 40-degreeC (104F) Swiss summer, there has been no rainfall from early June through to the end of August, forest fires all round, nasty brown dry grass, Good Grief, where's all this energetic water coming from then? Ah, of course, it's the glacier disappearing.

At the head of the valley, Dr Dante (André) and Anne-Elisabeth strive towards the glacier -- they're standing now about where the glacier was in 2000, but now it retreats before them.

Ah, there it is, the last of the glacier way up there, a dwarfy twisted little thing all contorted round about itself. Looks a bit like a Giant Alien Killer Slug from a Hollywood disaster movie peering down upon its unsuspecting victims in the valley below. Preparing to slither rapidly down and curl its greenish-slimy tongue out and lap them all up.

Prof Durham and Mr Rob sneaking up on the rock shelves under the glacier.

Prof Durham and Dr André, or Dante Guillaume, and a ghostly third presence, reaching the rocky shelf, formerly deep under the Glacier of Trient, that now represents the Visitors' Gallery.

Anne-Elisabeth and friend Rob pause to take a photo of some fellow hikers, who turned out to be colleagues from WWF International to whom we had recently recommended this very same hike.

A seemingly never-ending cascade of water bursting out from under the glacier. Only it's not never-ending at all! And THEN what happens, eh, Mr Cheney-Halliburton? THEN what happens to Switzerland?

Engineer Rob, Anne-Elisabeth, Prof. Durham, and Dr André taking air samples. Prof Durham's political T-shirt shows the European Union surrounding the Swiss flag, with the legend (in English) "Do Not Disturb".

The glacier reconnaissance team assembled just before lunch.

The glacier reconnaissance team digging into the lunch. Hummus has been promised.

And hummus it is, with "gourmet" Lebanese bread for some of us (good ole mi-blanc and Gruyères for the plebes amongst us).

A last glance at the sad old slug, and back we go to Forclaz.

We'll be back next year! But will the glacier?!


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 8 September 2003, revised 17 May 2006, 15 May 2013.


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