Glacierboarders slide down the Aletsch Glacier

February 5, 2015 | Bodyboarding
Aletsch Glacier: no waves, great channels | Photo: David Carlier

Claude-Alain Gailland and Gilles Janin had other plans for their gliding gear. Instead of riding waves, they decided to slide down the Aletsch Glacier.

Meet Europe's largest glacier. Located in Valais, Switzerland, the Aletsch Glacier is a result of the accumulation and compaction of snow for thousands of years.

Despite the cold and the icy valleys, Claude-Alain Gailland and Gilles Janin decided to explore the beauty of Nature on their hydrospeed bodyboards, thick wetsuits, and helmets.

The seven-mile goal was to descend the snaking glacier river and survive the multiple dangers: hypothermia, currents and floods, avalanches, and hidden crevices.

The glacierboarders complete the challenge in five hours. The narrow channel of near-frozen water doesn't allow mistakes, so this type of adventure is not for everyone.

"This is a very dangerous activity for two main reasons. First they need to check the whole glacial river to make sure there are no big crevices ahead," explains David Carlier, the photographer who captured the breathtaking pictures.

"They also need to make sure there are areas where they can stop without being swept away by the stream which can be very strong. The second danger consists of glacial lakes located above, that could suddenly be released. We did have that scenario, and suddenly a few hundred cubic meters of half-melted ice runs down the river at full speed."

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