Sat. May 25th, 2024


Switzerlands famous Matterhorn mountain. — Reuters
Switzerland’s famous Matterhorn mountain. — Reuters

As climate change melts Switzerland’s alpine ice fields, shrinking glaciers close to the famous Matterhorn mountain, climbers have uncovered the remains of a German mountaineer missing since 1986.

The body was discovered earlier this month after the climbers noticed a hiking boot and crampons emerging from the ice as they crossed the Theodul glacier above Zermatt.

According to BBC, DNA analysis confirmed the remains belonged to a climber who went missing almost four decades ago. 

Despite a huge search and rescue operation, no traces of the missing man were found at the time, BBC reported.

While the police did not name the climber, they shared he was aged 38 when he went missing during a hike.

Like glaciers across the Alps, the Theodul glacier — the highest in Europe and part of Zermatt’s famous year-round ski region — has shrunk rapidly over the past few years.

The glacier, which was connected to Gorner glacier till the 1980s, has now split and stands alone.

Almost every summer, the melting ice of the Alpine ice field uncovers things or people lost decades ago.

“Last year the wreckage of a plane that crashed in 1968 emerged from the Aletsch glacier,” according to the BBC report.

Earlier, in 2014, a helicopter pilot discovered the body of missing British climber Jonathan Conville after he spotted something unusual while delivering supplies.

Conville went missing in 1979, and his family, who had never been sure of his fate, said it “bittersweet” that he died in an environment he loved.

Then, in 2015, the bodies of two Japanese climbers who went missing in a snowstorm in 1970 were discovered at the edge of the Matterhorn glacier.

Last year the melting ice even shift the position of the drainage divide between Switzerland and Italy, altering their borders.

“The famous Rifugio Guide del Cervino, an Italian mountain lodge much loved by skiers and hikers, is now technically in Switzerland, and delicate negotiations between the Swiss and Italian governments have been taking place to decide how to redraw the border,” BBC reported.


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