GIANTS OF THE ICE AGE
the glacial forefronts
According to data gathered in the 1980s, there are 85 glaciers covering more than 40 km. of the Zillertal. (Glaciers are called “Kees”es here.) In more recent centuries, the Alps‘ glaciers had their greatest expanse around 1850. Back then, a brief “Ice Age” was about to conclude. Since then, with very brief exceptions, the glaciers have been shrinking, having forfeited most of their previous mass and volume already. The retreat of the glaciers, however, also means the creation of a new biotope: the glacial forefronts. The soil that‘s freed from its icy coat acts almost as an outdoor testing lab for pioneer plant and animal species trying to reconquer the rocks and the rubble. The glacial forefronts are valuable niches for new life, so it‘s no surprise they, in particular, are under official protection. The biggest glaciers of the Zillertal today are: the Schwarzensteinkees (5.1 km.), the Schlegeiskees (4.7 km.), the Hornkees (4.1 km.), the Floitenkees (3.3 km.), and the Waxeggkees (3.2 km.).
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