Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana - Vol. 36/2015

Leo Handl and the Ice City (Marmolada Glacier, Italy)

Aldino Bondesan (a), Alberto Carton (a) & Vittoria Laterza (b)
(a) Department of Geosciences , University of Padova, Via Gradenigo, 35121 Padova (Italy). E-mail: (b) Doctoral School in Historical Sciences, Department of Historical, Geographical and Antiquities Sciences, University of Padova, via del Santo 26, 35123 Padova (Italy). E-mail:

Volume: 36/2015
Pages: 31-34


Mt. Marmolada is the highest relief of the Dolomites, having its top at Punta Penia at 3343 m a.s.l.; it hosts a large glacier on the northern slope. During the First World War, the summit of Mt. Marmolada was the site of fighting in the years 1916 and 1917. Thanks to the initiative of an Austrian official, Lieutenant Leo Handl, the troops opened underground passages inside the glacier allowing the soldiers to carry supplies to advanced positions without being exposed to enemy fire. Quickly, several large shelters and 12 km of tunnels were excavated giving rise to the Eisstadt (Ice City). During the war, tunnels were deformed by the glacier dynamics, which was more active than at present. In November 1917 the Ice City was abandoned.


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