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Rockslides on the Matterhorn and the Eiger: Mountaineers capture a great moment

Rockslides on the Matterhorn and the Eiger: Mountaineers capture a great moment

  • fromJohn Welty


Two huge rockslides have occurred on the Matterhorn, one on the Swiss side and one on the Italian side. Mountaineers were also surprised by a rock fall on the northern side of the Eiger.

Zermatt/Breuel-Cervina/Grindelwald – The Matterhorn, with its distinctive rocky needle and 4,478 metres, is perhaps the most impressive and most famous mountain in the Alps. On its northern side is the sophisticated Swiss winter sports resort of Zermatt, and on its southern side is the Italian mountaineering paradise of Bruel Cervinia.

There were two rockslides on the Matterhorn.

© Imago/Cavan Images

Huge boulders fell before the eyes of the mountaineers

Large rockfalls fell on both sides last Sunday. Mountaineers on the southern side photographed how the rock masses thundered in the depths in a large cloud of dust. Shortly afterward, a rockslide also occurred on the north side. From what we know so far, no one was hurt.

In mid-July, the main road to the Matterhorn via the Hornligrat was closed after a rock fell 1,000 meters below the summit in Zermatt. 1,000 cubic meters of rock were lost. Loud climbing in high season had won When the weather is good, 150 climbers climb the rock pyramid every day.

The rockslide not only alarmed mountain guides in Valais, who had to rescue several rope teams by helicopter, but also caused a stir throughout Swiss tourism. There was also a major collapse of the upper Grindelwald Glacier, which temporarily dammed the river.

On the Eiger, the ropes team is surprised by a rock fall while climbing

At the beginning of the week, the rope team was surprised by a falling rock while climbing the famous north face of the Eiger. “In Ghilini-Piola Direttissima, the huge rock column on Pitch 22 probably collapsed and crushed the entire section of the wall underneath,” German extreme mountaineer Robert Jasper said on Instagram three days ago. The new Renaissance Road was also affected. Mountaineers should avoid the area for now.

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Experts blame the melting of mountains, even at the highest peaks. “Extremely high temperatures during this period, even at high altitudes (freezing point at around 5,000 metres), lead to an increasingly weakening of the permafrost and thus stabilization of the lithosphere,” explains the portal.

Four days of snowmelt at an altitude of more than 4,500 metres

Tornado Italy It became more precise on Monday: “Yesterday, for example, the temperature at the meteorological station Capana Margherita (4560 m) reached 10.0 degrees, a value very close to the record of 10.2 degrees since June 2019.” Temperatures at the weather station in Duforspitz, adjacent to the Matterhorn, are said to have not been below freezing for four days and 17 hours, an “unprecedented event.”

explains Mirko Demuzi, President of the Geological Society of Trentino-South Tyrol“Permafrost is nothing more than permanently frozen ground at high altitudes.” When temperatures rise due to climate change, which also causes very sudden changes at certain altitudes, the permafrost thaws and water begins to flow.

Alpine geologists are more concerned than ever

The rock that was previously held together by this frozen section begins to crumble. “The problem today is the sharp rise in temperatures and climate change. What we are seeing affects not only the glaciers, but also the ice in the ground, and this has never happened in the recent past.”

There has also been a recent large rockfall on the Sassolungo River in the South Tyrolean Dolomites, as well as on the Chiara River and at Ponte di Campiglio in the Brenta Dolomites. Meanwhile, in Italy, the supervolcano in the Phlegraine Fields near Naples is making a noise: the ground has now shaken under its most famous crater, Solvatara. Residents have made worrying observations for weeks.

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Category list image: © IMAGO/Cavan Images