Alberta - Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield

As the entry road leaves Highway 93, there's a small lake on the left (not to dismiss the slopes of Mounts Athabasca and Andromeda ahead). It's a small widening along Wilcox Creek, which funnels all the mountain's meltwater into Sunwapta River.

I started off with a wrong turn, and so you get a photo looking west at Mt. Kitchener and its baby brother peak Mt. K2.

However, that turn also got me some mountain goats to show you.

Turned the right way, let's get a glimpse of where I'm heading: Athabasca Glacier, just beyond its outflow Sunwapta Lake and nestled between Mt. Andromeda to the left and Snow Dome to the right. If I had ice shoes, I could walk up the glacier to British Columbia.

Things that aren't a glacier: Looking west toward Mt. K2, Sunwapta Lake, Wilcox Peak (right) and the path of Highway 93 between them all; looking north across the lake at Nigel Peak; looking east of Nigel Peak at its own child (Nigel SE3), the path of Highway 93 in the other direction (southbound), and Hilda Peak on the right, part of Mt. Athabasca. Nigel SE3 and Hilda Peak frame Sunwapta Pass, all part of the boundary between Jasper (from here north) and Banff National Parks.

Maybe this counts as glacier. This little stream carries meltwater from the glacier under its little snowpack and then emerges on its way to Sunwapta Lake.

Walls of till on the left (2 photos) and right sides of the glacier, facing south. Athabasca Glacier is steadily receding, so imagine it once filled this trench to the tops of these walls, the power of the ice carving its way through rocks like a steak knife through gelatin.

Looking north from up the glacier trail at Nigel Peak and Sunwapta Lake.

Components of the same photo: the left side of the eastern till ledge, "Nigel SE3" behind it, and a glacially decorated rock in front.

Just a few more steps and I can touch the glacier before going back to my car.

See more along Icefields Parkway/Highway 93

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