The creation of glacial ice
As soon as the loose new snow has fallen, it starts transforming into glacial ice. This is a lengthy process that can last several years. The snow must remain there for the whole year to be turned into glacial ice. The process is influenced by the temperature, further precipitation, wind and sunshine. The new snow develops into an increasingly compact blanket of hard old snow.
From firn to ice
When the snow has survived an entire summer, it is known as firn. In the following winter, more new snow lands on the existing snow blanket and presses the firn corns more closely together. The firn becomes more dense and the gaps become smaller. The proportion of air decreases until the snow becomes so dense that no air or water can circulate in the gaps. This process can last for decades in the Alps.
The last ice age in the Alps
The last ice age reached its peak around 20,000 years ago. At this time, immense ice masses filled the alpine valleys and flowed down into the foothills as long glaciers. In contrast to today’s watersheds, the powerful ice streams of the Upper Engadin flowed in all directions. In a southeasterly direction via the Bernina Pass, southwest via the Maloja Pass, to the west via Julier and Albula and to the northeast into the Inn Valley. The ice shield above the bottom of the valley in the Bernina region reached a thickness of around 1,000 metres.
Geography of the Bernina Glacier experience
The Bernina Glaciers experience is located in the border region between Pontresina in Engadin and Val Poschiavo – connected by the Bernina Pass. The region thus covers the southeastern part of Switzerland and in the south borders with Veltlin in Italy. The Bernina glacier world can be easily accessed via the Diavolezza cable car and the two side valleys of Val Roseg and Val Morteratsch near Pontresina. The high-alpine mountain landscape of Bernina Glaciers surrounds the entire region with sparse rock and ice structures, milky glacier lakes, bubbling mountain streams, blooming alpine meadows and fragrant woods. We cross landscape and climate zones and move between different cultural and linguistic boundaries.