Blanca Imboden: “Glaciers are contemporary witnesses that are melting away.”

Story 72

The successful best-selling author Blanca Imboden published her book “Matterhörner” in 2018. In this interview, she tells us how she fell in love with the world’s most famous mountain and why the glaciers around the Gornergrat are so fascinating. 

What was the inspiration for the book Matterhörner? 

Blanca Imboden: “In 2013 I travelled to Zermatt and stayed at the Hotel Riffelhaus. I wanted to see the Matterhorn for myself, as I thought all the talk about it was just hype. After all, we have beautiful mountains in Central Switzerland, where I come from.  

So, did the Matterhorn disappoint you? 

Blanca Imboden: “Who would have thought it? I succumbed to the magic of the Matterhorn. I took a lot of photos and sent them to friends all over the world, including my publisher. She laughed at my excitement and suggested I write a Matterhorn novel. Because I wanted to travel to Zermatt again, I thought the idea was great.” 

How was it for you to write the novel? 

Blanca Imboden: “Initially, the project involved a lot of on-site research. I talked to a lot of people, visited the museum and read books about Zermatt. Then I had to find the right narrative voice and that turned out to be the main character Antonia, a cable car operator, from whose perspective the story is told. 

Does Antonia also pass by the Gornergrat in the novel? 

Blanca Imboden: “Yes, on page 72, where she says this of her visit: “Then I stand in the middle of the glacier world and admire it… I stand in front of the Gorner Glacier, the Border Glacier (Grenzgletscher), the Twin Glacier (Zwillingsgletscher), the Breithorn Glacier and the Theodul Glacier. It’s fascinating. I feel the power of the glaciers, their old, cold strength.”  

What fascinates you about the surroundings around the Gornergrat? 

Blanca Imboden: “I am really touched by glaciers. The fact that we’re watching them die is poignant. Glaciers are contemporary witnesses that are melting away. One experience that particularly struck me was meeting an old woman. She told us what the glaciers used to look like. In my book I wanted to record the power of the glaciers.” 

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