Ice cave

Elevation: 2020m  -   Massif: Préalpes Fribourgeoises   -   Commune: Val-de-Charmey (FR) 

The Gouffre des Diablotins is a deep cave system located in the Swiss Prealps. In 1991, the lower entrance zone of the cave was almost free of ice. Nevertheless the ice volume sharply increased in 1994-1995, plugging almost totally the gallery from the lower entrance. Continuous cave climate measurements initiated in 2009 showed the predominant role of winter atmospheric air conditions to drive both the efficiency of chimney-effect air circulation (aspiration in winter, outblow in summer, thermal threshold inverting the air flow at about +2°C) and seasonal modifications of the ice mass. Ice loss is mainly occurring in wintertime due to sublimation, whereas ice aggradation may occur from springtime to early winter due to the refreezing of the water infiltration. A part of the frozen gallery system, which was discovered as flooded in the second half of 2011, has been completely sealed by ice since then.


  • Measurements and observations

    Ice cave climatology

  • Figures

    Height reached by the ice plug at the entrance of the frozen part of the Diablotins ice cave (distance to the roof)



    Daily air temperature in the cave, close to the ice plug.



    Mean annual air temperature (running mean) at the ice plug and outside of the cave.



    Accessing the rock wall (upper left) where the entrance is located (upper right) in wintertime. Within the cave the winter air flow is sublimating the ice (lower left), but in 2014 the thickness of the ice plug was preventing humans to penetrate deeper in the cave (lower right) (27.03.2014)



    More pictures

  • Collaboration

    Spéléo Club des Préalpes fribourgeoises (M. Bochud)                

    Geoazimut Sàrl

  • Publications

    Morard, S., Bochud M. and Delaloye R. (2012). Evolution de la masse de glace et formation de poches d’eau dans la glacière dynamique des Diablotins (Préalpes fribourgeoises).  Actes du 13e Congrès national de Spéléologie - 2012, Société Suisse de Spéléologie, 149-154. (pdf)

    Morard, S., (2011). Effets de la circulation d'air par effet de cheminée dans l'évolution du régime thermique des éboulis froids de basse et moyenne altitude. PhD thesis, Fac. Sciences, Univ. Fribourg, GeoFocus 29(pdf)

    Morard S., Bochud M. and Delaloye R., (2010). Rapid changes of the ice mass configuration in the dynamic Diablotins ice cave – Fribourg Prealps, Switzerland. The Cryosphere, 4, 489-500, doi:10.5194/tc-4-489-2010. DOI: 10.5194/tc-4-489-2010.