Hydrospeed adventure on the largest glacier in the Alps - the Aletsch Glacier (14mi. long), which is a UNESCO world heritage site / Photographer: David Carlier, www.davidcarlierphotography.com (David Carlier)

Hydrospeeding on the Aletsch Glacier

Valais, Switzerland


There are two major dangers when sliding head first through glacial runoff. First, the water you are rushing down eventually flows into a deep crevasse. Second, glacial lakes that feed the runoff often overflow during the midday heat, which causes a flood of large ice and debris to crash down the channels. But despite the risks, the sport of hydrospeeding has emerged as a glacial summertime hobby.

French mountain athlete and hydrospeeder Claude-Alain Gailland has completed a source-to-sea-style mission, starting at the top of the glacier and ultimately paddling out of the bay in a kayak. On the Aletsch glacier in Switzerland, I was able to capture Gailland and Gilles Janin racing through the water just after they found a safe place to enter. In their words, “it’s like a wet and wild amusement park sliding on huge toboggons.”

TOOLS: Leica S, 30mm, 1/2000 second, f/4, ISO 100

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Lead Photo: David Carlier
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