Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The Arve river

You can really feel it's the end of the season. The Arve river which flows down the Chamonix valley being fed by the glaciers and snow fields in the mountains above is really flowing strongly now from the increase in temperature melting the ice and snow.

The Arve river flowing through Chamonix.
The picture is taken just 5 seconds form our office.

It's weird, even as a kid I've always been interested in how nature changes and why things work and what happens when climactic conditions vary. Being out here I've learnt lots more about the science of snowpacks (and therefore avalanches) as well as rock and glacial formations - for safer mountaineering, climbing and backcountry. It's cool because you can see it all happening around you rather than just having it pointed out in a book in a classroom. You actually feel the weight of the snow on the mountains and are amazed by the impressive stature of the glaciers all around. It's really inspiring to pay attention and learn.

So the river's evolved over the course of the season from the start - an icy trickle with boulders covered in snow - then slowly shaping up to a small torrent and subsequently building up into a full flowing alpine river. Its character changes almost daily and I always find myself walking across one of the many bridges in town looking down at the river and trying to work out how much of the snowpack has changed to make it swell or if cold has made it reduce or if there are other underlying meterological conditions. We went through the Col des Montets towards Switzerland the other day - a small valley that leads from Chamonix towards the border. There were crystal clear alpine streams from the meltwater running through and I couldn't help but be reminded of living in Germany and going to the Austrian Alps as a child and still feeling the same peaceful happiness now as I did then when looking at their fast flowing tendrils down the valley.