Magnificence despite depletion: Morteratsch Glacier, Upper Engadine

Temporality makes the Morteratsch Glacier even more beautiful. It's worth a visit before it disappears completely.

The Morteratsch Glacier remains proudly magnificent despite its belittling depletion in size that is occurring rapidly, a shrinking of proportions that is represented by waymarkers along the path up to it. It presents a scene among the most beautiful I have ever laid eyes on: a tumbling river of ice bedded between jagged white summits that rise above deep green pines and, between them, an ice blue, roaring river. 

From the car park just outside Pontresina on the road up to the Bernina Pass, the walk to the tongue takes just under an hour and enjoys views the whole way. At the start you're in 1870, and from here the shrinkage accelerates, so between 1980, 1985, 2005 and 2015, the signs - and the ice loss they represent - comes thick and fast. Since 2015, the glacier has retreated to a shocking extent. The tree cover becomes thinner as you advance, yet it is surprising how quickly the foliage has pushed through where the glacier lay as recently as 2005.  

Albie shrieks and points at the sights; he's in raptures when a train passes on the line that cuts across the path at the opening to the valley. We picnic among wild mushrooms and discarded boulders, in the shade of larches that will soon turn yellow, and ponder on how small Morteratsch Glacier will be when Albie reaches adulthood. 

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