Swiss Alps (World Heritage) Part I

The World Heritage includes a magnificent mountain region, which, with its steep peaks and deeply cut valleys, extends over Finsteraarhorn, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Aletsch Glacier, Bietschhorn and parts of the Lötschen and Baldschiedertal valleys. The high mountain landscape is dominated by the Aletsch Glacier, with around 23 km the longest Alpine glacier.

Swiss Alps: facts

Official title: Alpine region Jungfrau with Eiger and Mönch, Aletsch Glacier and Bietschhorn
Natural monument: Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region with Finsteraarhorn, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Aletsch Glacier, Bietschhorn and parts of the Lötschen and Baltschiedertal valleys (total area 539 km²); Expansion across all climatic levels down to the Rhône Valley with its Mediterranean-style rock-steppe landscape; unique flora and fauna around the longest glacier stream in the Alps
Continent: Europe
Country: Switzerland
Location: Border area between the cantons of Bern and Valais
Appointment: 2001, extension 2007
Meaning: Outstanding evidence of significant periods in the history of the earth with traces of important geological and glaciological processes

Swiss Alps: history

approx. 200 million years BC Chr. Primal Mediterranean (Tethys)
approx. 65 million years BC Chr. Uplift of the Alps
10 million years BC Chr. The climax of the formation of the Alps
3.5 million years BC Chr. Beginning of the most recent Ice Age
18000 BC Chr. The climax of the last ice age

Majestic peaks in the eternal ice

In the border area of ​​the cantons of Bern and Valais, particularly impressive peaks of the Swiss Alps rise up in a very small space: the Jungfrau (4158 m), the Eiger (3970 m), the Mönch (4107 m) and the Bietschhorn (3934 m). The imposing mountain range is not only a feast for the eyes from a distance, it also clearly illustrates various processes of mountain formation in detail.

In 2001, UNESCO declared this Alpine region a World Heritage Site. Six years later, the World Heritage area was expanded and now also includes the three 3600 meter high peaks of the Blümlisalp in the southwest and the Wetterhorn (3692 m) in the northeast. What is still being searched for is a characteristic, attractive name for this region, on the edges of which there are numerous holiday resorts that attract mountaineers and hikers in summer, and especially skiers in winter, to the world heritage area.

But the region is not just a tourist magnet: there are traces of significant geological and glaciological processes in the mountain ranges of the Swiss Alps. B. mountain folds, glaciers and glacier forelands as well as rocks from 500 million years of geological history. The Jungfrau is particularly interesting from a geological point of view, because there the thrust of the crystalline Aar massif over the limestone ceilings adjacent to the north can be observed. The base of the Jungfrau is made of crystalline, while the entire porch is made of overlaid limestone. The summit region in turn consists of igneous rock pushed over from the south. This mountain region offers excellent insights into the formation of the Alps.

According to philosophynearby, the steep mountains of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau have fascinated people for centuries. The “smallest” of this striking group of three is the Eiger, which is connected to the Mönch by the Eigerjoch (3619 m). The Eiger North Face is a legendary challenge for mountaineers – a rock face that drops almost vertically at 1,650 meters. It was not until 1938 that it could be conquered for the first time by the alpine climbers Heinrich Harrer, Anderl Heckmair, Fritz Kasparek and Ludwig Vörg. The Mönch rises between the Eiger and Jungfrau, over whose summit the border between the cantons of Bern and Valais runs. In the north of the mighty Eiger lies the popular mountaineering, hiking and skiing center Grindelwald (1090 m). The two Grindelwald glaciers are an attraction of the place, which is also framed by the Schreckhorn (4078 m) and Wetterhorn.

To the northeast of the Jungfrau lies the Jungfraujoch, the connecting ridge between Mönch and Jungfrau with the Sphinx observatory, where scientific research has been carried out since 1937. Today, the Jungfraujoch is no longer only accessible for alpinists, even those who are not athletic can enjoy the fantastic view of the majestic mountains of the Bernese Alps from almost 3500 meters above sea level. This was made possible for them by the Jungfrau Railway – a rack railway, the construction of which was financed by the entrepreneur Adolf Guyer-Zeller from 1891 to 1912. Its route is 9.3 kilometers long and leads from Interlaken mostly within the mountain range up to the highest station in Europe, the Jungfraujoch station at an altitude of 3454 meters.

The Bietschhorn, also known as the “King of Valais”, is also part of the world heritage. It is one of the highest and most famous peaks in the Bernese Alps. On its south side, numerous valleys such as the Bietschtal or the Baltschiedertal stretch down to the Rhône valley. These sunny valley slopes were originally too dry for agriculture. In order to still be able to use them, the mountain farmers have, in some cases, built kilometer-long irrigation channels, so-called suonen, artfully built on the steep slopes that supplied the mountain meadows with the necessary water. Almost all bisses have proper names, the oldest systems are built in 10/11. Dated 16th century. Famous suonen are the Bisse du Ro and the Riederi through the Massa gorge. The Lötschental, one of the most pristine Valais valleys, stretches between Bietschhorn and Blümlisalp. that is why it has long been a popular destination for folklorists. With a length of around 23 kilometers and an area of ​​86 km², the Aletsch Glacier is the longest and most powerful glacier in the Alps. Since its greatest expansion around 1860, its surface has been more than 150 meters deeper. In the process, it has lost around 3.4 km² in area. It lies on the southern slope of the Bernese Alps and arose from the glaciers of the Ewigschneefeld, the Jungfraufirn and the Großer Aletschfirn, which unite at the Konkordiaplatz at an altitude of 2,800 meters and there together form the Great Aletsch Glacier. It winds elegantly past the peaks of the majestic three and four thousand meter peaks. Even inexperienced hikers can contemplate the fascinating beauty of the eternal ice on easily accessible high-altitude trails.

Swiss Alps 1