View of the Great Aletsch Glacier from Chalchofu (2051 m), with the Eiger in the background
The INQUA mid-conference field trips offered plenty of choice of beautiful Alpine scenery to visit, but Meredith Kelly's trip to the Aletsch Glacier, via a very cold Grimsel Pass, has to have been one of the best trips! After a brief stop at Grimsel Pass, where, as promised, horizontal snow and cold winds made most participants regret not bringing more fleeces, we drove through the Rhone Valley to get a cable car up for a hike along the left lateral Esesen moraine. The upper Rhone Valley supported the highest ice domes of the LGM Alpine ice cap, and Meredith showed us sites where she had taken samples for cosmogenic nuclide exposure age dating to determine the LGM extent and retreat rate of the glacier, published in Kelly et al. (2004a). The glaciers in this region have flowed over tough gneissic basement rock, so that the LGM trimlines at ~2700–2800 m above sea level (Kelly et al., 2004b) are clearly visible on the valley sides, with the terrace of the Hotel Reiderfurka conveniently located for a leisurely viewing of these features over a few local beers.