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History & Culture - Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service)

But there is nonetheless deep unease. Can the glacier hold on?


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For how long? Where there was once ice, there is now rock. In August last year, a heavy storm unleashed a debris flow, killing an elderly couple when their car was swept from the road that is currently closed.

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Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes. In January, a breakage in the wall of ice caused an avalanche, narrowly missing homes. Safe Mountain Foundation experts are monitoring glaciers in the Aosta Valley region. There are 4, glaciers across the Mont Blanc massif, the highest mountain range in Europe , which straddles Italy, France and Switzerland.


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  • Scientists predict that if emissions continue to rise at the current rate, the Alpine glaciers would shed half of their ice by Fabrizio Troilo, a geologist at the foundation, reels off a list of historical disasters caused by collapsing glaciers. In , two million cubic metres of ice and debris fell from the Allalin glacier in the Swiss canton of Valais, killing 88 workers at the Mattmark dam construction site below.

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    Five years later, an earthquake triggered the collapse of an unstable glacier in Peru, burying the town of Yungay and killing more than 20, people. More recently, a stream burst its banks in the Swiss resort of Zermatt in July, caused by glacial meltwater. For example, in Zermatt there was an outburst even though the glacier was being continuously monitored. In the event of a collapse, it would take less than two minutes for the mass to reach the municipal road. But, as worried tourists frantically called hotels to inquire if they should cancel their trips to Courmayeur, those running tourism businesses were unhappy that the news had generated so much attention.

    Residents were also unhappy that newspapers gave the impression that their town was in danger, while Jean Pierre Fosson, secretary-general of the Safe Mountain Foundation, was left fuming after Greenpeace released an inaccurate statement. But in a week during which millions of children took part in a global climate strike inspired by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, experts are pleased the news has helped draw attention to the vulnerability of glaciers.

    The Great Glacier - LEGO Disney Princess - Frozen Northern Lights

    The children of Courmayeur were among the estimated one million young Italian protesters. Raffaele said that the emotion galvanised by Thunberg now needed to be turned into concrete action.

    Cabins and Vacation Rentals in Glacier National Park, MT

    Although dining cars were very popular, they added too much weight to a train straining to climb the steep mountain pass. A location near the Great Glacier known today as the Illecillewaet Glacier was selected and by late the Glacier House dining hall was receiving guests. The few chalet rooms accommodating overnight guests were quickly overbooked and a sleeper car was parked at the siding until additional rooms could be added to the hotel. Canadian Pacific staff and guides built climbers' cabins, teahouses and many of the hiking trails in Glacier National Park.

    The park and the hotel became the cradle of North American mountaineering. The railway changed how people viewed the mountains. Once considered a barrier to nationhood and progress, the mountains were now viewed by many as a major tourist attraction. Aggressive advertising, outdoor books, photo exhibits and the Swiss Guides who worked at the hotel all highlighted the intrinsic — and commercial - value of mountains.


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    • Glacier House was expanded twice, in and , and the hotel soon set new standards for service and luxury. Glacier House was built before its better-known sister properties, the Banff Springs and Hotel Vancouver, and it was the inspiration for the Chateau Lake Louise.