Tour: Ice Cubed/Icewalk in the Afternoon
Start times: 10:00AM/1:45 p.m.
Duration: 3 hours
Distance (km/ miles) 5km, 3mi
Elev Gain: (m /ft) 200m, 650ft
The Ice Cubed and Icewalk in the Afternoon tours are our most popular glacier adventure, providing plenty of time to absorb the beauty and complexity of the snowfield, but not requiring a full day commitment. It offers three to four hours of hiking on the lower two kilometers of the Athabasca Glacier, with short stops along the trail to tell you more about active glaciation and explain the features that you are seeing. There are constant views of the Canadian Rockies, along with glacially carved out landscapes like moraines, mill wells, and crevasses.
We start off from the meeting area with a short but steep trail that takes us to the bottom edge of the glacier which is called the terminus, or toe. The glacier itself is at a mellower pitch, and in some areas the surface is fairly even and smooth, while in other places it’s like walking across a series of frozen waves. Occasionally we jump across small streams of frigid water that gently flows down the glacier. At other times we come to much larger rivers that are far too wide and dangerous to cross as they cut a beautiful green channel of water down the ice field. There are even spots where these rivers drop into bottomless crevasses, resulting in waterfalls that disappear into the depths of the ice.
Our guides are an international group of professionals who have a wealth of practical experience and training, and they take advantage of short stops to introduce you to the concepts of active glaciation and describe features of a glacially carved landscape. They are all members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or its equivalent. They are also trained in advanced First Aid, and carry two way radios in case of any emergency.
The Athabasca Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to access in all North America due to its proximity to the scenic Icefields Parkway. It is in continuous movement and travels forward several centimeters per day. It is the largest of six glaciers that help to form the Columbia Icefield, however, it is shrinking by five meters every year and has receded more than 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in the past 125 years, losing over half of its volume.
Our Icewalks take place in Jasper National Park, which is the largest national park of the Canadian Rockies. Along with the spectacular mountain views, it is one of the best places to see wild birds and animals. The chances are good of spotting bears, bighorn sheep, elk and deer, plus many little critters such as marmots, pikas, and Columbian ground squirrels.
The Ice Cubed tour leaves promptly at 10 o’clock a.m. and meets in the parking lot nearest to the glacier at 9:40 a.m. The Icewalk in the Afternoon begins at 1:45 p.m. and meets in the parking lot nearest the glacier at 1:30 p.m. Please allow adequate travel time to the meeting area, taking into account congestion on the parkway during peak vacation periods. Unguided travel on the glacier is not recommended if you miss the group departure time.
Prior to beginning we will make sure you are properly equipped for our hike. No technical skills are required, but there is basic equipment that can make the journey safer and more comfortable. We provide a simple, light crampon that will provide better traction and security for walking on the frozen surface. We also have boots available for no charge which are much sturdier than tennis shoes, and hats, gloves, and rain gear for protection from the weather. A brief consultation about your physical fitness will help to keep expectations clear regarding the days pacing and exertion level. Once everybody is ready, we will head up the glacier for a few hours of fun and interesting facts.
The Ice Cubed and Icewalk in the Afternoon tours operate every day. The groups generally consist of 12 to 14 people, ages seven and older. Due to variable weather conditions and the moderate degree of physical exertion required, the tour is not appropriate for younger children, and we request that you not attempt to carry infants or toddlers in a backpack. There isn’t an option for early exit or departure, and other patrons will be expecting the full tour as advertised.
Adults ages 16+, $105 CDN, plus 5% GST
Children ages 7-16, $60 CDN, plus 5% GST
Morning Icewalks: Depart 10am ( arrive 9:45am)
Afternoon Icewalks: Depart 1:45pm ( arrive 1:30pm)
We operate these tours from May 26th to October 7, 2018.