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Large rock avalanche at Flüchthorn Peak in the Austrian Alps

Large rock avalanche at Flüchthorn Peak in Austrian Alps

A significant rock avalanche took place on June 11, 2023, descending from the slopes of Flüchthorn in the Austrian Alps. Flüchthorn, also known as Piz Fenga due to its location on the Austria-Switzerland border, stands 3 399 m (11 150 feet) high in the Silvretta Alps.

The dramatic event was captured on video by Patrick Schöpf, showing the collapse of the ridge and the subsequent rock avalanche. The avalanche’s path was thankfully devoid of people at the time, preventing any injuries.

The Austrian newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, has reported on the incident. The publication indicates that the rock avalanche resulted in the removal of the cross at the mountain’s summit. This might suggest that the height of Flüchthorn has been slightly reduced. The landslide’s runout is estimated to have extended around 2 km (1.2 miles).

Helicopter footage from Blick further reveals the vast scale of the landslide, including the significant source area from where the avalanche originated.

An intriguing video posted on Twitter showcases a flood lower down the mountain. The flood is suspected to have been caused by the melting of ice present in the collapsed mass from Flüchthorn. The heat generated by the landslide would have led to the ice melting.

Dave Petley, a specialist from The Landslide Blog, expressed his interest in the timing of the failure. He noted, “It is interesting that this failure occurred in June.”

Petley mentioned that data from Alaska indicated a trend of large mountain collapses happening primarily in the spring and early summer. He also pointed out a potential link between these events and climate change. These incidents loosely correlate with El Nino periods.

Given that we’re just entering an El Nino phase and global temperatures are at an all-time high for this period of the year, Petley predicts, “We are in for an interesting time.”

References:

1 A large rock avalanche from Flüchthorn in the Austrian Alps – The Landslide Blog – June 12, 2023

Featured image credit: Gebi Mair (stillshot)

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