Monday, October 27, 2008

Photo of the Week: Attending a sunrise Mass (of ice).

Welcome to the first installment of "Photo of the Week." I have so many photos that I could actually upload a photo each day. Maybe I will. We have some other special features coming up for this fall, so we'll stick with this for now.

I shot this photo along the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Aletsch glacier is 24 km long (approximately 15 miles), and around 1.6 km wide (1 mile), making the total surface area around 66 square miles. Other reputable sources may differ on the exact length and width of the glacier, I've seen variants of one or two km for length, but they all agree that the Aletschgletscher is the largest glacier in Western Europe. They also agree that it's melting.

In August 2007, Greenpeace directed a photo shoot that enlisted 600 volunteers to get completely nude and lay down on the ice. Greenpeace said the aim of the shoot was to “establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body”. Greenpeace added that the Aletsch ice mass retreated by 115m in two years alone.

I didn't get nude, but I did get up early for this shot. There's something special about hiking by yourself along a giant piece of ice at sunrise. The air feels comfortably still. It's almost as if the mass of ice is so large that its own gravity quiets the surrounding environment. A tumbling rock and a falling piece of ice occasionally break the silence, but the stillness quickly returns.

This is a popular stop on our Secret Swiss Valleys Tour.

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