Climate Change – Observations in the Alpine Range

In 2004 I climbed the Grossglockner using the so-called Stüdl ridge. At that time, apparently, everything was in good shape and order. No-one thought about the phrase “Climate Change”. Yes, the Pasterze glacier had lost some of its volume. But, who cared? Actually no-one.

So, I start this post with a shot I took from Grossglockner back in 2004. Only to show how the mountain looked back at that time.

grossglockner in 2004
Grossglocker mountain in the summer of 2004

The thing is that only with hindside the change in the landscape becomes obvious. We returned to Grossglockner two years later, in June 2006.

grossglockner mountain in j2006

It all still looked fine to us. We were en route to a mountain hut called “Oberwalderhütte” and our way led us over ice and snow. Even Grossglockner looked quite alright.

When walking up to the mountain hut you will have to go past the large Pasterze glacier which culminates in the bulky Johanesberg. Back in 2006 one could see one large icy area. Even Johannesberg was fully covered in icy and snow.

Then it was a good target for high alpine tours completely on ice. I can tell you this is utmost joy walking on a glacier. The below image shows that the right mountain slopes are free from ice but the glacier is still one piece of ice. However, not today.

pasterze glacier and johannesberg in 2006

Grossglockner in 2021

We did return to Grossglockner in 2021 only to take some good shots of the mountain. When we arrived we were simply shattered to see how the glacier had retreated. Even Johannesberg was no longer an ice summit as it used to be. Let start with an image of Grossglockner:

grossglockner with melting glacier
Overview of the Grossglockner mountain range.

It is obvious that Grossglockner has lost a substantial amount of ice and snow. The ridges are no longer ice-coverd. Without permafrost the rock struckture is going to crumble slowly by steady. Next is the image of Pasterze and Johannesberg:

pasterze glacier and johannesberg climate change in progress
Pasterze glacier and Johannesberg – Climate Change in Progress

Climate Change is happening

What can I say? The once mighty glacier has declined and is not even a shadow of its former self. Where the glacier used to be anyone can walk around. Any mountaneering experience is no longer necessary. Back in 2006 one could not walk around in a T-shirt. That was impossible. A fleece jacket and a mountaineering jacket was essential clothing at that time.

Now in 2021 we had about 20° C in the shade at Franz-Joseph-Höhe and it was really warm. Considering that the height differenc between our location and the summit there is about 1400 m, than temperature at the summit will have cooled down only to about 10° C. Quite obviously to warm for any ice and snow.

Conclusion. What can mankind do against melting glaciers and icebergs? This question is addressed to all of us. Of course, different landscapes and regions have different problems and climate looks different all over the world.

A single person can’t do much but to raise awareness and probably engage in environmental organisations. Wildlife conservation can only work if mankind solves the big problems. There is no point in finger pointing what is needed are collaborative efforts of us all.

Therefore, this little post is a call for people to engage and participate in efforts to solve todays issues.

You are invited to write to me and let me know your opinion. And I am closing with something nice: A marmot feeding itself fat in preparation for hibernation in autumn / fall. Though, we humans are not hibernating at all. It is our job to shape things.

marmot during feeding

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Published by Raymond Loyal Photography

Bird, Nature, Art and Architecture Photographer, Traveller, Blogger.

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