In Klein Matterhorn, after we had made enough fools of ourselves in the snow (Read – A Tryst with the Matterhorn in Zermatt), Tanya took us all for a tour inside an actual glacier. I am not a mountaineer and hence not even in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that I could someday walk on / in a glacier. That too via an easy short cut i.e. cable cars and lifts 🙂
From the ski lift station of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise there is a lift that took us right into the heart of the highest glacier palace in the world. This tunnel is almost 15 metres under the surface of the glacier and on first impressions seems like a large mystical ice cave or tunnel with a clearly defined path leading into a mysterious abyss. And we ventured forth to discover its mysteries.
The first thing that we noticed were the walls and ceilings, that had unique shapes and patterns made by ice all around – some circular, some conical and some completely random yet beautiful.
We then saw the beautiful snow sculptures that have been placed in small nooks and corners and lit in multiple colors. These sculptures ranged from the Matterhorn to local houses and animals. And I understand that these sculptures are also renewed pretty regularly.
But what really amazed me was the crevasse. A crevasse is a deep vertical or near vertical crack in an ice sheet or glacier formed as a result of movement and resulting stress associated with the shear stress generated when two semi-rigid pieces above a plastic substrate have different rates of movement. These get lethal for people walking on snow, as they become invisible when covered by a snow bridge made of the previous years’ accumulation and snow drifts. We however saw them from the bottom and I was amazed with its height and the sheer drop possible (should someone accidentally fall through one of them). Though adventurers and daredevils can actually return up by walking through a glacier crevasse here, we didn’t attempt any such thing.
I also loved the entire ambience created here with discreet multi colored lighting and soft music that transports you into Ali Baba’s cave with treasures all around you. Tanya also told us that each year the glacier keeps moving and hence they make the passages accordingly. And I felt that this entire Palace has been carefully planned and designed and even provides information about the creation of the glacier palace and glaciology.
Some walls here were also covered by plastic sheets as ice keeps melting due to all the lights and warmth. This in turn reminded me about the threats these glaciers face due to global warming and the care that we need to take to protect the environment from such a disasters. I guess such visits could be made more educational too.
Anyways, overall I felt its a unique experience and a cheat’s way of crossing off “walking on a glacier” from your “Travel To Do” List 😉 What say?