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Eyes are riveted on the glacier that threatens to give way
The Hairdresser of the glacier, the Bar of the glacier, the glacier Physiotherapist ... As soon as the tourists arrive in Lauterbrunnen they a subtle flavor of ice just tickle their nose. Embedded in a narrow valley at 800 meters, the town of 3000 souls is proud to show it live at the foot of the Jungfrau massif. Hundreds of tourists come every day to admire the majestic summit where the glaciers are dancing. And they just look up to be dazzled by the snow. But behind this idyllic picture hides an insidious threat. A few hundred meters from the village center, 2000 meters above a huge piece of the glacier Giesen may give in and collapse into the valley.
“We’re very careful,” says Christian Abbühl, who works in the Department of building communal. The danger was reported a month ago to the authorities. “Residents told us that the glacier had changed his appearance,” said he. Observing the north face of the Jungfrau, they noticed a huge crevice 300 feet long, forged in the moraine. So that a block of ice as big as ten football fields may come off at any time.
“But no one knows when this will happen, says the official. We closed a portion of the perimeter to hikers and there are plans to install surveillance cameras by the end of the month. For now, glaciologists ignore what is happening under the ice.
The drop might happen tomorrow, in two years or never. “
The fall of the glacier already tonight?
Some experts quoted by the television speaking, the fall is imminent. Summer temperatures in recent weeks and the sudden drop of the thermometer announced for the coming night may speed up the process. Several hundred thousand cubic meters of ice crashing while on the town.
“But no resident is at risk, would like to reassure the representative of Lauterbrunnen. At the foot of the cliff, there is no home. “” The danger is indirect, adds Martin Funk, a glaciologist who is closely monitoring the situation. If ice falls below a dam may form on the river (note: the Trümmelbach). At the time of rupture, there may be a flood downstream. “The tidal wave would submerge a number of cottages and houses with flowers.
“We have developed an evacuation plan, said Christian Abbühl. But as the river level is low this fall, I do not think the danger is so great. In any case, we tell people not to worry. “
It appears also a philosopher. “If the water has to happen, it will arrive,” says a lady of a certain age. “We do not live in fear in the belly, smiled Hans Von Allmen. Here, we like to be surprised! “The keeper of a small hotel, which features humorous earrings in the shape of cows, said that his village has seen others. “In 1999, we were overwhelmed by avalanches. Later, we experienced flooding due to storms. And, regularly, the glaciers in the area we are full of surprises. But we live with nature and know that glaciers are alive. Everything can happen. “
“In the front row ...”
“In February, there have been several falls of moraines on the other side of the Jungfrau, Gertsch said Edith, the butcher of the village. We follow closely what is happening in Giesen but’re used to this kind of phenomenon. “
Everyone hopes that the glacier will grow stronger with the winter, knowing they will never be truly safe. “We have a front row seat to observe climate change, says Sonja, a resident of 50 years. As a child, the glacier was thicker and longer. Now it was down faster and faster and falling moraines become more frequent. It’s sad, but that’s part of our lives. “
A life that continues no matter what the foot of the Jungfrau. Yesterday, Hairdresser Glacier did not empty. The namesake bar opened on time. And hundreds of Japanese tourists and Indians captured snow that are likely to remain eternal as their photos.