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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Grimsel Reservoir, Switzerland

This view may look like winter or spring, but the photograph was taken in June 2012. The Swiss alpine passes – here at Grimsel – are largely between 1,500 and 2,500 metres above sea level, and their location in the depths of the alpine chain means that they get wintery weather all year round. The snow fall is so prevalent that the pass roads are only cleared of snow and opened once the average temperature reaches a certain level. This usually occurs from late May, and the roads are only open until around October, when the following winter season begins.

The lakes in the Grimsel district all serve as dams for the hydroelectric services run by KWO, and water gets pumped around, largely underground, before finally being allowed to flow down gushing, icy streams to the Hasli valley. After the winter freeze, the main Grimselsee reservoir, shown here, is at its lowest level. If the water is low enough, remains of the original pass road and the original mountain hospice are visible, which were laid flat when the dam was completed and the lake formed in 1932.