Thursday, March 7, 2024

Giogo Alto Glacier (Hochjochferner) – Light and Shadow

Ghiacciaio di Giogo Alto - Shadow and Light Ghiacciaio di Giogo Alto - on chairlift with Giogo Alto on the left
Ghiacciaio di Giogo Alto - Shadow and Light

We visited the Giogo Alto Glacier (in Italian Ghiacciaio del Giogo Alto, in German Hochjochferner) recently on a ski trip to Val Senales. We stayed two nights in Maso Corto at 2,000 m (6,562 ft) - which is at the head of Val Senales, and one night in Rifugio Bella Vista (Gasthof / Schutzhaus Schöne Aussicht) at 2,845 m (9,334 feet), above Maso Corto.

Skiing on the glacier was beautiful, with few people. The play of light - especially with fog and passing clouds was otherworldly. But we were racked with a bit of guilt. Should we be skiing on this retreating glacier?

To reach Rifugio Bella Vista you go up the Hintereis ski lift (loc) and instead of going all the way down the ski run, you hang a right. The position of the rifugio seemed odd at first. Later, while waiting for dinner at the rifugio we looked at the old photos of the glacier and how it has retreated over the years and then it became clear. At one time, the rifugio sat at the edge of the glacier, which has now retreated almost a kilometer away. In winter of course, you can’t perceive this because everything is covered in snow – at least for now. We would like to return in the summer and get a view of this glacier, like we did with the Presena Glacier (see Presena Glacier – A summer visit to the covered glacier). We heard that like Presena, the Giogo Alto Glacier is covered in the summer though we couldn’t confirm it ourselves.

Summer skiing on the Giogo Alto glacier was stopped in 2013.

Nearby the glacier is the site where Ötzi was found. Ötzi the Iceman is the natural mummy of a man who lived between 3350 and 3105 BC and whose remains were discovered on 19 September 1991. The name of the mountain range Ötztal Alps (Alpi Venoste in Italian) lends its name to the mummy, which can be seen in a museum dedicated to him in Bolzano. We first learned of Ötzi in 2008 on a visit to Bolzano. (See The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeological – Ötzi’s Home.)

A room in Rifugio Bella Vista Rifugio Bella Vista in a foggy white-out conditions Grawand Hotel - sits above the glacier
Left: A room in Rifugio Bella Vista.
Center: Rifugio Bella Vista in winter fog, sitting on the hill.
Right: Nearby by Grawand Hotel, the highest situated hotel in Europe.

Arriving at the top of the Grawand cable car and entering on to the top of the Giogo Alto Glacier Ghiacciaio di Giogo Alto - chairlifts to Grawand Hotel Ghiacciaio di Giogo Alto - skiing down
Left: Arriving at top of the glacier from the cable car originating in Maso Corto. 1 km vertical distance.
Center: Chairlifts that run up the side of the glacier with Grawand Hotel at the top.
Right: Skiing down the glacier in fog. Austrian border is just a few meters away.

Chamois stew with potatoes and onions - Rifugio Bella Vista Lunch Rifugio Bella Vista dinner Rifugio Bella Vista strudel
Left: Lunch at Rifugio Bella Vista, a chamois stew.
Center: Dinner at Rifugio Bella Vista.
Right: Always strudel is to be had.

In the valley at Maso Corto - a monument celebrating the building of the ski infrastructure
Maso Corto sculpture dedicated to those who built ski infrastructure?

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