John Glen: pipes in ice and Max Perutz's pants

John Glen tells story of glacier tour with Max Perutz and John Nye in 1950.

Listen to the full interview track and all other tracks from this interview on British Library Sounds

I was encouraged to go out and look at some real glaciers, I’d never seen a glacier remember, in France and Switzerland. So I went out with Max Perutz, to Chamonix, to look at the Mer de Glace where Électricité de France were doing boring measurements in order to tap water under the glacier for hydroelectric purposes. And John Nye, Max Perutz and I, went out there for that. Max left early because a measurement was going on on his pipes through the Jungfraujoch, we’ve already mentioned, and John and I stayed on in Chamonix and then we went up to the Jungfraujoch to join him. And [laughs] I remember that I got a telegram when Max had got up to the Jungfraujoch, saying, and how it actually read, I may still have it somewhere, ‘Left shirt and ants in Chamonix, please collect.’ I devised that the fourth word should have ‘pants’ rather than ‘ants’. So I went down to the bureau of the hotel we’d all been staying in, and said this to the rather prim looking lady behind the desk. And she said, ‘Would these be them?’ and pulled out some long johns [laughs] from behind the counter. So I went up to Jungfraujoch, bearing Max’s shirt and pants, as well as everything else. And I was in on the last measurement of that pipe through the Grosser Aletschgletscher, which showed of course that extrusion flow didn’t happen. And then after that John Nye and I, but not Max, went down to Arolla and looked at the tunnel which Haefeli, Robert Haefeli, Swiss glaciologist, had dug through the Glacier d'Arolla, now no longer existing, it’s melted away, erm, and we also walked over to another glacier, Tsijiore Nouve, and that was my first experience of glaciers, which I spent with John Nye and for part of the time with Max Perutz.
  • Interviewee John Glen
  • Duration 00:02:28
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 7/28/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/26

Related Audio Clips

The following clips are short extracts from an in-depth interview.
To listen to the full interview visit

Related themes

Related disciplines

Related people