The Upper Grindelwald glacier is one of the most famous ice giants of the Bernese Oberland. It is barely visible today from the entrance to the glacier gorge and is hidden behind the high rock walls. But this was not always like that: only 20 years ago the glacier tongue reached the entrance of the gorge. And in the 18th and 19th century the glacier characterized the village.
In some periods, it reached the altitude of the hotel Wetterhorn, and the glacier tongue covered during the advances valuable farmland and crushed houses and barns. The accessibility of the glaciers can be considered as the origin of tourism in Grindelwald. Already in the 18th and 19th centuries, the glacier village of Grindelwald has become a popular tourist destination. The rise of the glacier in 1773 was measured by a 15 years old shepherd boy. He may be regarded today legitimately as a pioneer of experimental glaciology. Numerous advances and retreats are part of the history of the Upper Grindelwald glacier. It strongly reacts to climatic influences due to its relatively narrow and shallow tongue, situated additionally in a steep rock bed. When the surrounding rock is heated by the sun radiation, the ice of the glacier begins to melt at the base. Therefore it shows here clearly the phenomenon of global warming with a progressive decline of the glacier. End of August 2013 the tongue of the Upper Grindelwald glacier was divided in two. The approximately 1850 meters long lower tongue portion was since no longer fed by the mother glacier, thus making it the largest dead ice tongue in Switzerland.