MortAlive Project

Glacier recession is a global concern. Especially in Central Asia (Himalayas) and South America (Andes), dwindling glacier masses threaten the availability of fresh water for more than 200 million people. The so-called MortAlive process developed at the Morteratsch glacier near Pontresina could help these people. With "meltwater recycling," meltwater produced at higher elevations is collected and covered with snow the following winter using a highly efficient snowmaking technology developed in Switzerland without the use of electricity. This snow cover protects lower-lying glacier areas from melting the following summer.

The image shows the overview of the first ideas of the MortAlive project from 2018. For the 2040 glacier state estimate, the hypothetical assumptions were immediate implementation, an existing glacier lake, and ideal snow rope efficiency (Image: C. Levy, June 2018).


For local snowmaking on a glacier, various aspects have to be considered. The installation of conventional snow lances is not possible due to the nature of the subsoil (permafrost and glacier areas). In addition, as little electrical energy as possible should be required for water transport and snow production, and sufficient meltwater must be available. Thus the idea of a ground-independent snowmaking system was born. In this system, newly developed snowmaking cables with snow guns are installed above the glaciers. The Swiss company Bartholet Maschinenbau AG is the leading manufacturer of rope systems on the world market. The company Bächler Top Track AG also has a patent on the "Nessy" system, which makes electricity-free snow production possible. 

In February 2021, the first snow rope was installed at Diavolezza. This will enable the first test runs to be carried out and the conditions under which snowmaking can take place on the Morteratsch glacier to be investigated. The second and further developed snow rope followed in December 2021. The first test was carried out successfully. In January 2022, the extensive function and performance tests for glacier snowmaking were carried out.


Here you can find all information about the glacier protection project:

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