Problems in the Geology of the Liechtenstein Alps

Nature has a way of building mountains and then eroding them to the ground. The Alps are a young mountain range, relatively speaking, and they are have yet to be seriously eroded. The ice-ages gouged out what we now see as the Rhine valley, helped by the rift-fault along which the Rhine flows.

Landslides & floods are still commonplace in the Liechtenstein mountainsSeismically, the area is still fairly active, with regular tremors, and it can only be surmised how active the area was in olden days. The mountainsides are still unstable, and there are regular floods and landslides that remind the people of the erratic nature of the mountains.

Modern channels, called Rüfe have tried to limit the damage, channelling the water, mud and rocks along uninhabited paths down the mountainside, but in flash floods, these often fail.

The Romans built the Fürstenweg from Nendeln, past the castle at Vaduz to Balzers along the foot of the mountains in order to avoid the swampy valley floor. Unfortunately, this road was at the time, only slightly safer than the swamp.

Mountain paths were less common, unless they formed a safe shortcut, such as the path over modern-day Gafadura into the Samina valley, bypassing Feldkirch as a route to the Tyrol. Of course, these routes were not passable all year round, and the wide variety of modern footpaths are a testament to the modern love of hiking and mountaineering.

As in all mountain ranges, the weather can change very quickly, catching the unwary hiker by surprise. In general, you must be able to see as sheer drops appear suddenly, and in the event of a thunderstorm, the mountaineer must leave any cliff faces, and head downhill as fast as possible.