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Saturday August 4, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Flash floods, melting glaciers and shrinking mountain tops are the result of some wild summer weather. PlanetSKI reports.

The clearing up operation continues in the Swiss village of Grugnay after a huge mudslide hit the village last week after heavy rain.

No-one was injured but cars and some buildings were damaged.


Meanwhile in Sweden its highest peak is now the second tallest after the recent heatwave has melted the glacier on the south side of Kebnekaise mountain.

In July the peak lost 4m of snow and ice.

It used to be 2,100.80m, but thanks to the hot weather it is now only 2096.78m.

Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, a geography professor at Stockholm University, called the development "quite scary".

"You see the effects of climate change so clearly here," he added.

He went on to describe further impact.

"The snow is disappearing so that not even the reindeer can find a place to get relief from the sun.

"This is happening very fast. The result of this hot summer will be a record loss in snow and ice in the mountains."

So, what is the new tallest peak in Sweden?

It is the north peak of the same mountain that is 2096.81m.

The north peak is solid rock, so doesn't change in the heat so it is likely to remain the tallest for this summer at least.

The warm temperatures in Sweden have also led to a spate of forest fires.

In the second half of July there were 50 forest fires burning across Sweden and they have burned more than 74,000 acres of land so far.

It is a similar scene in the USA from where PlanetSKI's Katie Bamber reports on the wildfires threatening ski resorts and mountain communities:

Back in Europe the heatwave is having an impact on summer skiing across the glaciers in the Alps.

The high temperatures mean the snow gets slushier earlier but conditions have been helped by the huge snowfalls of last winter.

See here for a PlanetSKI news report on the summer glacier skiing from last month:

And here for a round up feature of where to ski in the summer:

The glaciers in Austria offer more than just skiing:

Some in Austria have taken draconian measures to keep cool in the extreme summer heat and their go-to activity is Ice Swimming within the Hintertux glacier.

And, yes it is a thing that people do.

There's an underground cave system that lies beneath the Hintertux glacier high up in the Austrian Alps.

It's an underground network of caves and tunnels located at a height of 3,250m above sea level, around 200m below the highest point of the Hintertux Glacier.

The glacier meltwater is -0.2ºC and the air temperature between 0ºC and 1ºC so it's pretty cold.

The Natural Ice Palace attracts between 400-600 people daily, where they can take 'dry' guided tours of the cave system, ideal for those who can't bring themselves to plunge into the icy water.

Visitors are not allowed to enter the ice caves without a guide, for safety reasons.

But if you have the pluck, you too can plunge in for an extra €10 per person  - see here for more details.

Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)




















Josef Köberl takes the plungein the icy waters of Hintertux Glacier - video by Josef Köberl:


Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)




















Swimming in the glacial waters is usually part of a training programme for professional Ice Swimmers, training for extreme swimming competitions in the cold waters of Antarctica and Norway.

In recent days a group of swimmers from the Austrian Ice Swimming Association spent three days in the Tirol for an intense training sessions in a kettle hole at the Natural Ice Palace.

The swimmers were able to spend an average of 2 to 4 minutes submerged in the cold waters, while the president of the Austrian Ice Swimming Association, Josef Köberl was able to spend up to 10 minutes in the water.

See the photo gallery below:

Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef KöberlJosef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)




















Selfie - Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)Selfie - Josef Koeberl Ice Swimming in Hintertux Glacial waters (Photo: Josef Köberl)




















Enjoying a waterfall (Photo: Josef Köberl)Enjoying a waterfall (Photo: Josef Köberl)




















Watch Paolo Chiarino swimming in glacial waters of Hintertux in May this year:

A post shared by Paolo Chiarino (@paolochiarino) on May 19, 2018 at 6:41am PDT

Severe Rainfall:

The current heatwave has also brought severe rainfall in parts of the Alps.

In the Tirol in Austria rivers have burst their banks causing panic and destruction.

180 firefighters were mobilised and there have been no reports of injuries.

The video below comes from the Arlberg region in the west of the Tirol.

"The rapid and courageous deployment of the emergency services fills me with great respect," said the governor of the region, Gunther Platter.

"I would like to thank each and every one of them on behalf of the country," he added.

Towns and villages in the Voralberg province have also been affected.

An emergency disaster fund has been set up to help people affected by the flooding.

Neighbouring Switzerland is having one of its hottest summers since 1864.

In Zurich the police are putting shoes on their dogs and are urging the public to do the same as the pavements have become too hot at times.

With temperatures hovering around 30ºC this means the pavements can be over 50ºC.

The police already have a supply of shoes for their dogs as the animals also wear shoes while investigating break-ins, and to protect car seats when they take sniffer dogs inside a vehicle.

Footwear protectionFootwear protection













And some of the fish in Switzerland are suffering too.

When the water temperatures rise above 27ºC many species cannot survive.

Last week, Lake Constance reached 25ºC.

In some areas, fishery chiefs have been gathering threatened species and relocate them into cooler waters.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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