Permafrost: the active layer

When trekking in the Italian Alps near the Stelvio Glacier earlier this year ( June 2015), we followed similar routes taken 30 and 40 years ago during winter.

nearly at Branca

Spring and Summer  this beautiful and wild area is laced with a myriad of wild Rhododendri, Stella Bianci, Violetta, pink, orange, yellow and blue flowers, the lower slopes grow pine, larch and spruce with pervasive perfumes of pine, eucalyptus and other herbs.

We were dismayed to see the devastation wrought, shoulders of mountains have collapsed  - rivers of rock  land sliding,  tumbling intermittently due to permafrost and climate change.monumental landslide ravaged mountain huge boulder fall

Above is the 2005 monumental rock shedding below Quinto Alpini

Still standing from 1975

Still standing from 1975

Luckily, the cabin, that Giovanni built in the Stelvio National Park, 40 years ago, remains intact, yet between two huge, landslide fallsRivers of rock cascade: the mountains regurgitate boulders and loose shale.

The permanence of the ice with its temperatures below zero, have for thousands of years held the mountains and their  layers of rock locked solidly, cemented tightly by ice.

Now as the ice glue melts, so the mountain rock fragments and falls or cascades…


The effects of the landslide at 3000m  Summer

Moving Planet -  The Facts:

The Stelvio Glacier, has apparently retreated by a third and lost half of its mass [citation EEA 2004]. The thawing accelerates increased microbial activity, which   releases methane.

A combination of loosening substructure and abundance of melt water causes the “Drunken Forest”: trees lose their grip,  tip and topple. As the annual temperatures rise, so the “tree line” creeps up   and forestation starts to rise.

Stelvio frozen falls
Stelvio frozen falls



At Rifugio Branca  -

Very happy by Rifugio Branca

Very happy by Rifugio Branca


altimeter 1960s ?

I love you altimeter

Mixed media designer and artist, Tilby is an experienced production set and costume designer for film, tv, film theatre and opera.