The remains of a German mountain climber who disappeared while crossing a glacier near the Matterhorn mountain nearly 40 years ago have been discovered in melting ice.
Two climbers found the remains on 12 July while hiking along the Theodul Glacier in Zermatt, Valais, southern Switzerland, police said on Thursday.
Glacial melting had revealed a boot and crampon and other remains that were later identified as belonging to the German climber.
Police from Valais canton said in a statement: “DNA analysis enabled the identification of a mountain climber who had been missing since 1986.”
“In September 1986, a German climber, who was 38 at the time, had been reported missing after not returning from a hike.”
The police did not provide additional information on the climber’s identity or the circumstances of his death. They published a picture of the discovery site, showing a single hiking boot with red laces sticking out of the snow.
Forensic analysis was carried out on the remains at Valais hospital in the town of Sion, and experts linked them to the climber’s disappearance in 1986, police said.
At least 300 people have gone missing in the Alps in the last century, according to some estimates. The bodies of some people who disappeared have been discovered as glaciers shrink due to the climate crisis.
Nine years ago, the remains of two Austrian soldiers who died during the first world war were found in the Italian Alps near the small ski resort town of Peio.
Last year, experts recorded the worst melt rate on Switzerland’s glaciers since records began more than a century ago. The glaciers lost 6% of their remaining volume, nearly double the previous record in 2003.
Swiss glaciers lost half their volume between 1931 and 2016, and a further 12% between 2016 and 2021, according to a study published in 2022.
Last year was regarded as exceptional even by those standards, as a winter of low snowfall followed by the deposit of airborne sand on ice and snow helped accelerate melting.