Glacier (n.)- a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles.
Our destination was not just a glacier, but the largest glacier in the Alps and western Eurasia: the “Great Aletsch Glacier”. Spanning more than 120 square kilometers, with over 23 kilometers of length, and depth of nearly one kilometer, it is located in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Valais canton of Switzerland.
Our goal was to appreciate this very glacier not only with the sense of sight, but with the sense of touch.
From Betten train station, there is a cable cabin service to the starting point of this trip, the lovely village of Bettmeralp. Magnificence initiated already while gaining altitude with the cable cabin, one summit after another join into the gratifying landscape of Pennine Alps. One of the summits visible was the Matterhorn, which is the trademark of the famous Toblerone chocolate bars.
From the cable cabin station at Bettmeralp, we began our journey to the Great Aletsch Glacier by foot, the simplest yet very enjoyable means of travel to this very destination. Walking through the village was by far very special. There was always an adorable sight of the village and green grass on one side and the wonderful view of the white capped Pennine Alps on the other. The sounds of cow bells accompanied us through out of Bettmeralp.
After walking past the last wooden buildings, the path led us straight up. Within fifteen minutes we reached the Bettmersee lake. The water in the lake was very still thus creating a duplicate of the beautiful scenery on its surface.
Two hours of hiking passed and there we were at the highest point of this journey. We were on top of Bettmerhorn, at elevation of 2,872 meters. The Great Alesch Glacier became visible for the first time here. The breathtaking sight of it seemed to have removed any exhaustion acquired from the hike to reach this peak. The glacier itself appeared to be a gigantic white river that was frozen in motion. We decided that there was no better spot to stop, sit down, take in into us the amazing view, and take out our lunch.
After finishing lunch, we moved on to reach the spot where the glacier curves. There lays the spot where we can actually touch the glacier. It was a hike along the mountainside with the path which leads to the curve in front, the glacier down to the left and the mountain to the right.
During four hours, the curve of the glacier seemed closer and closer, and then the path led us down. The scenery of the path changed to a big field filled with rocks and stones of various sizes. A small water stream escorted us to the glacier.
The moment long waited for finally came. The glacier did not appear to us as a glacier anymore, it seemed like a gigantic stone wall, standing very tall and white. Going closer until the wall was within reach of hands, we were assured it was made entirely of out ice. Though it was just frozen water, it was a very special experience to have touched the 18,000 years old glacier.
We left the glacier behind and walked through a tunnel which led to another side of the mountain (the side where we started). Again, we walked along the mountainside, but this time with the sunset behind the Pennine Alps. We finally reached Bettmeralp to take the cable cabin. We retreated this paradise, and realized that our bodies were completely exhausted, but our minds perfectly replenished.