Back up the Icefields Parkway
Jasper Travel Blog› entry 23 of 254 › view all entries
Decided to head up the Icefields Parkway and find accomodation as we went along. We stopped at the Columbia Icefield, to do the short walk up to the foot of the glacier. The columbia icefield is the largest collection of ice and snow in the whole of the rockies, and is the largest glacial area in the Northern Hemisphere south of the Arctic Circle. The part of it that we could see is the Athabasca Glacier. As we approached it it was intersting to see the date markers showing the retreat of the glacier - it has retreated 1.5km in the last 100 years, leaving behind a boulder strewn desolate looking landscape.
We wern't allowed to walk on the glacier because it is riddled with crevasses, and if you fall in one of these you aren't coming back out alive (unless you are Joe Simpson!). People are killed and injured every year on the glacier, and apparently even a slip on the ice can rip off chunks of skin; the effect of sediment frozen into the ice is to turn the glacier into a vast and abrasive piece of sandpaper. Having said all that it was yet another sublime bit of nature to look at. Glaciers all over the world are retreating due to the effects of global warming, and this glacier may have disappeared altogether in 100 years.