Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Presena Glacier – A summer visit to the covered glacier

Presena Glacier cover in its entiretyView of Presena Glacier from Rifugio Capanna Presena
Presena Glacier - sections of the cover from aboveThe bottom edge of the Presena GlacierPresena Glacier cover edge
Views of the Presena Glacier, located in the Southern Alps. The Presena Glacier is covered in the summer to try to preserve it.

The Presena Glacier is in the Presanella Group, which is a part of the Southern Rhaetian Alps, which in turn are a range in the southern part of the Alps. The glacier is located between 2,700 and 3,000 m (about 1.86 mi). And it’s shrinking.

The Presena Glacier is covered in summer to help preserve its winter snow and help it from disappearing faster. In 1961, the area of the Presena Glacier was reported as 82 ha, with a maximum length of 1200 meters and width of 1100 meters. In 2015, the area was reported as 25 ha and length and width significantly reduced. Its area in 2015 is about 30% of what it was in 1961.

To be precise, the glacier summer cover doesn’t save the glacier from ultimately shrinking but saves the ski season by preserving snow. In the case of Presana, there are 2 parts of the glacier connected by a middle part that is the thinnest part. If that middle part goes, skiing is finished on the glacier. Keep in mind that skiing on the glacier only started in the 1960s. Nothing is forever.

A sign near the base of the glacier notes the activities you can do around the area with a curiosità (fun fact) that the glacier is covered in the summer, and it saves 3 meters of the glacier that would have melted. That’s it. Nothing more.

The Presena Glacier was the scene of fierce fighting in World War I. Italy and Austria fought to control the peaks and passes separating them. The Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the top of the Paradiso cable car, you can visit a small war museum (really, a long tunnel used in the war and turned into a museum). The museum is called the Galleria Paradiso - Suoni e voci della Guerra Bianca. The “White War” - because it was fought mostly at high altitude and in wintery conditions. The name makes it sound so pure and clean.

Today, we are in a climate war. But the war’s sides are not so clear. Our allegiances are not clear. Are we on the same side as the glacier?

We’ve skied on the glacier in winter and were curious to see what it looked like in the summer. On an unusually hot day in July, we take the cable cars up to 3,000 m riding over the covered glacier, which looks like it was tucked into bed. It’s weird to not be dressed in ski gear. It’s weird it’s so warm.

The Presana glacier looked majestic, scary, and pathetic at the same time.

The Capanna Presena sits where the glacier must have been or passed by for sure. The capanna was constructed in 1965. Today, it sits by itself in the glacier’s moraine field. In 2016, the Capanna Presena was replaced with the current restaurant and 8-room hotel with SPA and solarium. Why not rent the “bubble sky room” so you can watch the night sky as they twinkle over the shrinking glacier? Or, try the “igloo” room to really feel like once upon a time when it was cold up here?

The rifugio’s “sustainable” messaging seems like it’s to make us consumers feel better about being there. As we eat lunch looking up at the glacier, I think of the Douglas Adams series/book “Last Chance to See”.

Lago di Monticello - the Presena Glacier once reached down to this lakePresena cable car over Lago di MonticelloLooking down on the Presena Glacier coverOn the Presena cable car and small lake of glacier melt
Left: Views of Lago Monticello. The Presena Glacier once extended to this lake now almost 1 km away. Right: Views of the glacier cover.

Museum - Guerra Bianca entranceMuseum - Guerra Bianca insideMuseum - Guerra Bianca inside
A small museum located at the base of the Presena Glacier that deals World World I and the fighting that took place around the glacier.

Museum - example display descriptionMuseum - Guerra Bianca walking to the entranceMuseum - Tunnels reachable by a flight of steps
The "White War" museum and tunnels.

Presena Glacier - a human figure at the end of the glacierPresena Glacier - like shirt that is too shortPresena Glacier cover edge
Photos of the Presena Glacier cover.

Presena Glacier information - but little on shrinking of itSign that says to not walk on the geotessiliView of Adamello from Presena 3000 - Mandrone (right) and Lobbia (left) Glacier
Left: Description of the activities around the glacier and very small mention of the cover and why it's used.
Center: A sign at the top of the glacier saying not to walk on the cover of the glacier.
Right: A view the Adamello Glaciers from Presena 3000.

The Presena Glacier covered for preservationThe top edge of the Presena Glacier at 3000 mThe top of the Presena Glacier covered
Presena Glacier views: from below and the top of the glacier cover.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments go through a moderation process. Even though it may not look like the comment was accepted, it probably was. Check back in a day if you asked a question. Thanks!