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Switzerland: Haute Glaciology

National Geographic Adventure picks the 25 best new outfitted trips.
Text by Bonnie Tsui   


France  |  Norway  |  Scotland  |  Switzerland

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Go Green
A newly expanded UNESCO World Heritage site, the Swiss Alps's Aletsch Glacier is the largest ice field in Europe and a barometer for glacial retreat throughout the world. On Mountain Travel Sobek's first ever glacier-focused trip, you'll get a rare chance to strap on crampons, cross the high ice field, and witness the impressive uplift and compression that formed this striking natural treasure. Starting in the small village of Ulrichen, mountain guide Cain Olsen—who calls Valcamonica in the Italian Alps his home—leads a strenuous eight-day trek over the region's glistening ice and sheer passes carved by glacial movement. To acclimatize on the first day of trekking, hikers take a mellow climb to 7,680 feet (2,341 meters) to look out over the Rhône Glacier, the source of the historic river of the same name. The next few days are spent traversing rock and ice on winding trails with views of the southern range of the Alps and iconic peaks like the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc; at night, guests bed down in Alpine huts and mountain lodges. Elevation tops out just shy of 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) on the climb to the Oberaarjoch Hut, which offers a terrific panorama of the dark, shark-fin peak of Finsteraarhorn (at 14,002 feet [4,268 meters], the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps). The journey culminates with a crossing of the Aletsch Glacier, surrounded by a rugged amphitheater of 13,000-foot (3,962-meter) peaks, U-shaped valleys, cirques, and glacial moraines. According to Sobek program director Anne Wood, guests will return "in awe of the magnificent beauty of these giant fields of ice" and ready to take action to slow a changing climate that could possibly eliminate the Aletsch by the end of this century.

Vitals

Outfitter: Mountain Travel Sobek (
www.mtsobek.com)

Price: $3,695

Length: Nine days

Departs: July, August, September

France  |  Norway  |  Scotland  |  Switzerland

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