Tag Archives: glaciers

Brr, The Columbia Icefield

Heading north to escape the heat is a summer ritual many Phoenicians participate in.  Most head to the higher elevations of Northern Arizona where temperatures typically are ‘only’ in the 90’s during the day but cool off to a nice 50 or 60 at night or towards San Diego where we are affectionately? know as Zonies.  Hey, it beats highs of 110 and lows in the 90’s.

Wooly and Raeski have also been known to follow the ritual of heading north.  However Wooly sometimes likes to go the extra mile, or in this case, the extra 1,600 miles.  Not only did we escape the heat, there were times we were downright cold.

Like the time we stood on the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta Canada.  The glacier flows from the Columbia Icefield which happens to be the largest ice mass in North America south of the Arctic Circle.  How large is it?  It’s big, very big.  It covers a 130 square mile area and has a maximum depth of 1,200 feet which is about the height of the Empire State Building.

It was a great day when we stood on the Athabasca Glacier.  We were taken onto the ice in these massive buses to an area where it is safe and we didn’t have to worry about falling into a crevasse.  Standing on the ice with the Columbia Icefield towering over us was very cool.  Well, actually it was quite cold since cold air has the pesky habit of flowing down.  And guess where all the cold air was blowing that day.  Yup, right down the glacier where we stood.

And if you are wondering if this glacier is retreating the answer is yes – as all the glaciers fed by the Columbia Icefield are.  Since the industrial age began the Athabasca has retreated 1.5 miles and the rate of ice loss is accelerating.  And yes, Wooly and Raeski agree with the climate scientists that say that human activity is a major contributor to climate change.  When 95% of all climate scientists agree on this, one must question why the other 5% are still in disagreement.  Perhaps it’s because of who pays them.

Enjoy the show of water in one of its purest and most ancient forms.  Glacial ice.