Huge Rock Avalanche Cuts Loose on Swiss Peak

A massive landslide cut loose on a Swiss mountain Sunday morning, demolishing glacial terrain below and alarming skiers, hikers, and geologists in the area.

About one million cubic meters of rock and ice detached from the north face of 3,970m Piz Scerscen around 7 am on April 14. The rubble plunged into the Tscherva Glacier in Val Roseg, then kept tumbling — eventually covering an area several kilometers long.

The incident started in a spot several hundred meters below the Scerscen summit. No injuries occurred, though climbers and tourists do frequent the location. The landslide “significantly affected” access to two mountain huts under Swiss Alpine Club management, according to several sources.

“On first inspection, this appears to be a large collapse…from a steeply inclined rockface,” landslide management expert Dave Petley advised. “This appears to have undergone fragmentation at the foot of the initial slope, to form a long runout rock avalanche.”

Third collapse

The landslide’s impact registered on seismic instruments across the Alps, according to Petley. It’s the third such collapse in three years on Piz Scerscen. Smaller events occurred in 2021 and 2023.

As many areas in Europe labor under record heat, mountain visitors will likely face continually unstable rock and ice conditions.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.