PUBLISHED: 14:36 GMT, 21 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:27 GMT, 21 November 2012
These spectacular ice caves deep below a Swiss glacier have
been mapped, photographed and surveyed for the first time. A team of eight
descended into the moulins – vertical shafts – below the Gorner Glacier
near Zermatt in October. Their work inside the remarkable icy caverns will
help researchers get a better understanding of glaciers and their rate of
the depths: A team of eight climbed down the moulins - vertical shafts - in
the Gorner Glacier near Zermatt in Switzerland
Photographer Robbie Shone, 32, was part of the team. He said:
‘It was extremely spectacular. This was the first time I'd been in an ice
cave and they were absolutely beautiful. They were a really bright blue.
‘Ice caves are more impressive “normal” caves. They offer a
completely different challenge. I'm now fascinated by them and would like
to visit more.
‘We were the first group to map these moulins and because the
glaciers move around 15 metres (50ft) a year - they change every year.
Because of this we will be the only people to see them in that state.
The team had to abseil into the moulins because the entrances
were often vertical shafts that were up to 65ft deep. Mr Shone said: ‘We
were camping for six days and because of the heavy snow we spent two days
digging a path down to the glacier.
‘Our camp was about an hour away from the glacier and we got
up at 5am to get ready and then spent around eight hours on the glacier.
The temperature varied - at night time it dropped down as low as -18
degrees. The trip was a complete success and will help researchers get a
better understanding of glaciers' rate of melting.’
The Gorner Glacier is 8.7miles long and is the second largest
glacial system in the Alps.
the ice cave: The team's work will help researchers get a better
understanding of glaciers and their rate of melting
Vertical limit: The team had
to abseil often vertical shafts that are up to 65ft deep
into the deep: The team spent two days digging a path down to the glacier
to reach the moulins on the expedition in October in what photographer
Robbie Shone said was 'extremely spectacular'
bright blue: The glaciers move about 50ft a year as they melt
temperatures: The team had to grapple with varying temperatures which could
drop to -18 degrees at night time
sight to behold: Mr Shone said he is now fascinated with the ice caves and
wants to visit them again
route: The group camped about an hour away from the glacier and had to get
up at 5am to get ready to spend around eight hours on the glacier each day
slope: The ice caves presented a 'completely different challenge' to normal
caves, Mr Shone said
glacier: The glacier in Switzerland is 8.7 miles long and is the second
largest glacial system in the Alps