• Otherworldly experience
  • Ice cold Love

Exploring Ice Caves in Switzerland

You do not need to go to Iceland to see ice caves.


Entering through the tiny crack between snow and ice, we immersed ourselves into an otherworldy experience.

Once upon a time, I came across an image of an ice cave in Switzerland, which led me to do some research. I found several places where there are ice caves. However, due to climate change they rapidly alter their size and shape. Sometimes they are only accessible for one season or even a few days. Therefore, first hand knowledge is key to success.

The Crew

Given that I am neither an Alpinist, nor do I have any experience with avalanche prone areas, I put together a group of fellow explorers and hired a guide from the Bergsteigerschule Pontresina (Mountaineering School). Among the members of this expedition were Michael Baumann, who you may remember from this guest article and fellow fly angler Jonas on the Fly. Moreover, Philippe with whom I spent 4 weeks in Chile and Argentina was on tour with me.

The crew on the expedition to the ice caves in Switzerland
The Crew

The entire crew had high spirits and the mood was up straight from the beginning. Possibly, this had to do with the fact that one participant just finished a ‘reproduction week’, which turned into a running gag.

Perhaps I should mention that she is a veterinarian.

The Plan

From Friday to Saturday we stayed in the closest hotel to the starting point of our tour. Given its remote place, it offered superb conditions for astrophotography. Hence, even tough we arrived at 11 pm photography addicts Jonas on the Raw (here’s his website), HarryVR and myself could not wait to see the milky way.

The moon is not the best friend for night photography
Moonlight shadow

Minutes later we found ourselves outdoors, but the moon was still up and would not descend until 1:30 am. Therefore, we went to bed as the others had done, but Jonas and I set an alarm clock to 3 am – the darkest hour.

It paid off.

Milky Way ascending in the Swiss Alps reflected in the creek
Milky Way ascending in the Swiss Alps reflected in the creek
Night photography in the Swiss Alps searching for some Easter eggs
Night photography in the Swiss Alps searching for some Easter eggs

The night sky was magnificent and the core of the milky way rose above the mountains. The stunning views almost let me forget that it was brass monkey weather. To be precise, it was -15° Celsius. After two hours posing in the deep snow, photographing and mostly standing still, we called it a night at 5am to sleep 2 more hours before dawn.

Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet

After a superb breakfast buffet, we met our guide outside of the hotel. While Hans, the mountain guide, waited for us to get ready, he left his backpack outside for some minutes. The abundant squirrels seized the opportunity and not only stole his food inside a zip pocket, but also his head lamp.

Bugger.

Snowshoeing to the ice caves in Switzerland
Snowshoeing to the ice caves in Switzerland

We then hiked and walked with snowshoes to the ice caves in Switzerland in perfect weather. The way led across a frozen lake and along avalanche prone mountain slopes. The alpine hike is doable for people with a decent amount of stamina and alpine experience.

Jonas on the Raw shooting the first ice cave - or rather ice bridge
Jonas on the Raw shooting the first ice cave – or rather ice bridge

We arrived at the first cave – or rather what was left of it – in about 3 hours. Due to climate change this cave has melted quite quickly and only a bridge out of ice remained. Furthermore, it has a huge crack in it and our guide estimated it will not last until summer before it breaks. He advised us not to stay for too long under the unstable looking ice bridge.

Are there any ice caves in Switzerland?

We continued our hike uphill where we saw another small black gap in the snow. Whereas the first ice cave looked larger the closer we got, this one remained tiny even when standing in front of it. We readied ourselves with warmer jackets. Additional, those who still had headlamps took them out of the backpack. Luckily, I brought 2 in case someone forgot his or hers – or got robbed by some squirrels.

Entering through the tiny crack between snow and ice, we immersed ourselves into an otherworldy experience.

The tiny crack to enter the ice cave in Switzerland
The tiny crack to enter the ice cave in Switzerland

I cannot put into words the feeling that overcame me, when standing under ice several thousand years old.

Entering the ice cave through the tiny crack between snow and ice, we immersed ourselves into an otherworldy experience.
Entering the ice cave through the tiny crack between snow and ice, we immersed ourselves into an otherworldy experience.

Just mind-blowing.

My photography buddies Jonas on the Beef and HarryVR photography as well as other people from the crew with an affinity for photography, could not eat due to their excitement about the ice cave in Switzerland. In contrast, I forced myself to first eat lunch and take in the surrounding with my bare eyes. Few minutes later, I found myself  posing and photographing the ice caves with the crew.

It was amazing.

Love beyond time and space - in an ice cave in Switzerland
Love beyond time and space – in an ice cave in Switzerland

In this shot you see two participants, who are both in a relationship, but not with each other. Only seconds after they posed for this shot, the girlfriend of the guy called and we laughed pretty hard due to this coincidence. After 2 hours under the thousand years old ice, we left the ice cave. Stepping outside, Jonas was left “hard blind” as he concisely put it.

 

The crew went back to the first ice bridge and then we walked to our origin. There, we enjoyed a fantastic dessert buffet before heading back to warmer climes.

Thanks to all who joined this amazing trip and keep in mind to not leave your backpack unattended whenever professional criminals are in town.

"Professional ciminals" - Squirrels
“Professional ciminals” – Squirrels

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