|Location:||Hotel Belvédère at the Furkapass, Motorway 9 (E62) Montreux, Martigny, Sion, hwy 9 to Brig, hwy 19 to the Furka Pass.|
|Open:||If pass is open: daily 8-18, high season 8-19:30.|
|Fee:||Adults CHF 5, Children (13-18) CHF 3, Students CHF 3, Children (0-12) CHF 2. |
|Light:||electric and natural.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Eisgrotte Rhonegletscher, 3999 Belvédère/Furkapass, Tel +41-27973-1129, +41-27973-1196.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
The upper end of the Rhone valley is blocked by the Dammastock mountains. The road, which follows the Rhone up the valley, divides now into two branches, one going up the Grimsel Pass (2,165m asl) to the north, the other one going up the Furka Pass (2,431m asl) to the east. Inbetween lies the Rhone Glacier, one of the big glaciers of the Alps. The melting water of this glacier is the spring of the Rhone river.
The warm climate of the last 100 years, well known as global warming, is the reason for the shrinking glaciers of the world. And the Rhone Glacier is no exception. Its end is today 200m higher than it was at the beginning of the century. On the path from the ticket office old photographs, taken at former locations of the cave's entrance, give an impression of the shrinking glacier. Really exaggerating is the difference between 1996 and 2006. In only 10 years the glacier shrank more than 50 meters.
The Eisgrotte Rhonegletscher (Ice Cave Rhone Glacier) is located inside the Rhone glacier. At the Hotel Belvédere, in a turn of the Furka pass road, lies a small kiosk with a ticket office, which also sells local rock crystals, books, postcards and souvenirs. After paying the fee, the visitor can walk to the glacier on a mountain trail, so good shoes are advisable. We recommend trekking boots. The rocks here are granites, the so called Grimsel granites, which are very bright, almost white with dark spots. The rock face is polished by the glacier, very smooth surfaces with parallel lines in the direction the glacier is flowing. Typically the rocks are poished on the upill side, but little affected on the downhill side.
Despite the name the Ice Cave is an artificial glacier cave, as it is located inside the ice of a glacier. The term ice cave is scientifically used for caves in rocks containing ice.
This cave is artificial, dug out by four men, which takes one month. And this work has to be repeated every year, as the glacier moves all the time, at a speed of about 30 to 40 meters per year, destroying the cavern slowly. New ice is formed by snow on top of the glacier, moving slowly downhill until it melts at the lower end. Also the seasons of the year have an influence on the glacier. But all those processes are very slow, making the ice of the glacier with its content of dust and pollen from the air, an ideal archive of vegetation from the last some 100,000 years.
It is easy to understand, why the scientists use this cave, but it is also a tourist attraction. To walk through a bluegreen tunnel, glowing from the sunlight outside, is very impressive. And for children, a staff of "ice bears" make the visit a funny event.