Archeologists are asking alpinists to help them recover potential ancient remains and artifacts as ice all over the Swiss Alps continues to melt. The heat is on, they say, noting that there is a limited amount of time to recover these potential archeological wonders.

A Swiss cultural institute is heading the project, which asks hikers heading into Switzerland's eastern mountains to return with any ancient artifacts they find in the melting ice of the Swiss National Park.

"There have been extremely warm summers in the last 10 to 20 years, and this has led in consequence to the glaciers and ice patches melting extremely quickly," Martin Grosjean, executive director of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern, told the Swiss news agency (

This leaves a small window of one or two decades during which time icemelt will reveal artifacts but won't wash them all away, Grosjean said.

"In 50 years, all these glaciers will be gone. We know that today," he added.

This archeological initiative is called the "kAltes Eis [sic]" (cOld ice) project, and will involve true experts as well as alpinists.

Using a modified Geographic Information Systems (GIS) model, expert Leandra Naef has highlighted specific patches of melting ice all over canton Graubünden's mountains that are most likely to yield artifacts. Three-hundred points in all were highlighted, with 40 main areas of interest being targeted by archaeologists. The 260 remaining points of lesser interest - which still seem likely to boast a few artifacts - are being covered by roaming hikers, SwissInfo reported.

Amazingly, Naef isn't worried that hikers who do find something will take it home or try to sell it.

"We are looking for objects that are very valuable for science but their value for private citizens is difficult to determine," Naef explained. "Therefore we don't have to fear looting or grave robbers."

Project "cOld ice" will last between this July and September when the melt will be at its worst.