The Aletsch glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the longest glacier in the European Alps.




For billions of years the foaming mouth of this giant glacier has released countless tons of water, cutting a deep ravine into the Alpine rocks and forcing its way downhill into the Rhone River that flows through the Rhone Valley into France and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Near the mouth of the glacier the relentless flow of water has generated a nozzle accelerating the powerful jet stream of melting ice.




In the course of time the huge masses of roaring waters carrying along boulders, pebbles and sand have chiselled and polished the walls of the Massa Gorge, creating a Michelangelo-like universe of breathtaking beauty and power of expression.




Whoever enters the deep, dark gorge with its granite and gneiss walls surging towards a narrow strip of blue sky, is struck with awe. You experience what Goethe called the sublime – das Erhabene – a grandiose beauty of enchantment and at the same time one that provokes a strange, spine-tingling sensation of nameless terror.




To reach the “Cathedral” (link film GGG) you have to rappel down a steep wall as polished as the shell of a gigantic egg – a granite dome in which human voices and the waterfall reverberate like an organ in a basilica.




You have to swim through a number of puddles and ice-cold ponds of green-blue water to reach the next patch of sandy ground, constantly awed by new mysterious shapes nature has hewn into the towering rocks. Some look like living creatures (link ice-bear); others resemble abstract sculptures created by Brancusi or Henry Moore. (link) You caress them and regret that they are far too big and too heavy to be carried home.




Traversing the Massa Gorge is a lesson in spirituality, a deep experience of interconnectedness with everything existing on the planet. It is a lesson in humility; the spirit of eternity exuding from these giant walls cuts human hubris down to size.






Gottlieb GUNTERN
July 2012