Artificial and natural ice caves

Every spring a tunnel is dug into Rhonegletscher. During summer it serves as a major tourist attraction. For the first time in its 100 year history an accident occurred on 29 August 2007. After some very heavy rain a small amount of ice crashed into the tunnel and injured two people who then had to be hospitalized (Swiss national TV, SF1, 10 vor 10).

Artificial and natural ice caves
Entrance to the ice cave in August 2004. The glacier surface is dozens of metres higher than in August 2007.
Artificial and natural ice caves
In the ice tunnel, August 2004. GOL author Michael Hambrey in the background.
Artificial and natural ice caves
Entrance to the ice cave on 27. August 2007 (at the righthand glacier margin).
Artificial and natural ice caves
The wooden bridge leading to the tunnel needs permanent modification because of the movement and ablation of the ice.
Artificial and natural ice caves
Tunnel entrance on 27 August 2007. On the top are sheets of material used to reduce ablation.
Artificial and natural ice caves
Because of ablation, parts of the tunnel's roof have disappeared and protective sheets are hanging down.
Artificial and natural ice caves
At the glacier front natural, albeit short-lived, cavities can be found (August 2004).
Artificial and natural ice caves
Small natural ice cave and ice collapse on the glacier's western margin (August 2007).
Photos Jürg Alean