Columbia Icefield Glacial Adventure

Over the last couple of Wednesdays I’ve shared some of my exploits on (and above) the Juneau Icefield in Alaska. And with the cold and snow still firmly entrenched here at home, I thought I’d continue the glacial Which Way theme.

In Juneau, I flew over glaciers. I landed on a glacier. And I even hiked on a glacier. What I didn’t do was drive on a glacier. But eight months later I got to do just that, during a visit to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta.

IMG_8953We stayed overnight at the Glacier View Inn, just after crossing into Jasper National Park on Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway. Being on the top floor of the fascinating Icefield Interpretive Centre, our hotel had us perfectly situated for an early Columbia Icefield Glacial Adventure the next morning.

The Glacier View Inn and Icefield Interpretive Centre

The Glacier View Inn and Icefield Interpretive Centre

Misty morning view of the Athabasca Glacier from our (slightly grubby) hotel room window

Misty morning view of the Athabasca Glacier from our (slightly grubby) hotel room window

From the Icefield Centre we were taken by a shuttle to the staging post for the Ice Explorers, which would drive us up onto the Athabasca Glacier. The Ice Explorers are a cross between a coach and an ATV. And these monsters have to be powerful to carry their 56 passengers onto the icefield.

From their staging post on the rugged moraines beside the glacier, they seemingly drop off the edge of the world, down onto the ice itself. From there they power their way roughly 1¼ miles up the Athabasca Glacier to a viewing spot where you can get out of the Ice Explorer.

An Ice Explorer leaving the staging area

An Ice Explorer leaving the staging area

Powering up the Athabasca Glacier

Powering up the Athabasca Glacier

We've got a convoy!

We’ve got a convoy!

Even these massive machines are dwarfed by the landscape

Even these massive machines are dwarfed by the landscape

Of course, this part of the tour was a bit tame for a hardened arctic-adventurer like myself, having hiked on the Juneau Icefield the previous year. But in all seriousness, it was fun to once again stand on solid ice. And the scenery was spellbinding.

IMG_8773IMG_8736IMG_8738At 125 square miles in area, the Columbia Icefield is the largest extent of ice in the Rocky Mountains. It lies across the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks, penned in by the surrounding mountains. The Athabasca is one of eight major glaciers that spill off the icefield and down between these imprisoning peaks.

This is kinda what the Athabasca Glacier looks like from my perspective

This is kinda what the Athabasca Glacier looks like from my perspective

And there I am on the glacier! (with a strange flash-effect)

And there I am on the glacier! (with a strange flash-effect)

See... I really was there with Rich & Sue

See… I really was there with Rich & Sue

IMG_8741IMG_8742After our allotted time on the glacier, we climbed aboard our Ice Explorer and rumbled back to the staging post, and from there on to the Icefield Centre. Following a fun hour or two exploring the Athabasca’s terminal moraines on foot, we continued our Journey towards Jasper. (What a great name that is, by the way, even if the spelling is a little strange!) But that’s a story for another day and another Which Way.

What a cool monster!

What a cool monster!

A couple of the Ice Explorer's ancestors

A couple of the Ice Explorer’s ancestors

In a cool link to my previous post about the Grand Canyon Skyway, since my visit to the Athabasca Glacier a similar attraction has been opened there, called the Glacier Skywalk.

Back the the Icefield Centre: the Athabasca Glacier and its terminal moraines beneath blue skies

Back the the Icefield Centre: the Athabasca Glacier and its terminal moraines beneath blue skies

This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

If you enjoyed this tale of mechanical marvels on ice, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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9 Responses to Columbia Icefield Glacial Adventure

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    Such marvelous frozen landscapes. That road must be scary to drive. 🙂 Thanks!!

  2. jpeggytaylor says:

    Oh that looks fantastic! I love the views of the glacier and the mountains – so wild and beautiful. But how wonderful are those ‘buses’! The current versions look fabulous with their massive wheels and the old ones with the tracks made me laugh! The vehicles really did almost scale into insignificance against the landscape. Sometimes our local buses are cancelled when the weather is snowy – sometimes they get stuck on the hill through our village … now I know what we need! 🙂

  3. afairymind says:

    What incredible views! Great photos. 🙂

  4. Max510 says:

    Wowww ! Fantastic shots !
    Ciao ciao

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