Dates: May 23 – October 11, 2020
Duration/distance/elevation gain: 3 hours, 5 km (3 miles) round trip, Climbs 200 m (650 feet)
Price: Adults: $115.00 CDN, plus 5% GST.
Children: 7-16 years, $60.00, plus 5% GST.
Days: Departures daily
The Ice Cubed and Icewalk in the Afternoon are our most popular glacier adventures. Both provide plenty of time to absorb the beauty and complexity of the snowfield, but do not require a full day commitment. They offer three hours of hiking on the lower two kilometers of the Athabasca Glacier, with short stops along the trail to learn more about active glaciation and to understand the features that you are seeing. There are constant views of the Canadian Rockies, along with glacially carved landscapes such as moraines, millwells, and crevasses.
The hikes begin from the staging area (the lower parking lot nearest the glacier) with a short but steep trail that takes us to the edge of the glacier, called the terminus, or toe. The glacier itself is at a lower angle, and in some areas the surface is fairly even and smooth, while in others it’s like walking across a series of frozen waves. Occasionally we jump across gently flowing streams of frigid water. At other times we come to much larger rivers that are too wide and dangerous to cross as they cut a beautiful green channel of water down the glacier. There are places where these rivers drop into bottomless holes (millwells or moulins), resulting in waterfalls that disappear into the depths of the ice.
Our guides are an international team of professionals who have a wealth of practical experience and training in safe mountain travel. Our lead guide, Peter Lemieux, has been travelling the glacier daily during the summer months since 1980. All our guides are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or its equivalent. Completing these courses means that the Icewalk tour guides are well qualified in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, the effects of changing weather conditions, and all other aspects of mountain and snowfield travel.
Most of our staff combine Glacier Icewalks in the summer with heli-ski guiding or ski tour guiding in the winter months. This year round work in the mountains results in a very thorough knowledge of how glaciers form, grow/shrink, and move, as well as making them experts on the mountain environment in general.
They are 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 of North America due to its proximity to the scenic Icefields Parkway. It is in continuous movement and travels forward several centimetres per day. It is the largest of six glaciers that comprise the Columbia Icefield. It is shrinking many 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, the largest national park of the Canadian Rockies. Along with spectacular mountain views, it is one of the best places to see wild birds and animals. Chances are good that you will spot bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk and deer, plus many little critters such as marmots, pikas, and Columbian ground squirrels.
All tours leave promptly at the designated times.
During May/June and September/October we meet in the lower carpark, nearest the glacier. On Google Maps, you can enter: Athabasca Glacier Trailhead to find directions. Look for the Icewalks vehicle and trailer near the picnic shelter.
During July and August we meet in the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre parking lot. Check it in Google Maps. If coming from the south (Lake Louise or Banff), continue past the first (bus) parking lot to the north side of the building. We meet just past the entrance to the public parking.
LOOK FOR THE ICEWALKS MEET HERE sign.
YOUR CONFIRMATION WILL INCLUDE COMPLETE INSTRUCTIONS TO GET TO THE CORRECT MEETING SPOT.
Please allow adequate travel time to the meeting area, taking into account congestion on the parkway during the peak vacation periods of July, August and early September. 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 at no charge, which are much sturdier than tennis shoes. We provide 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 day’s 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 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+, $115 CDN, plus 5% GST
Children ages 7-16, $60 CDN, plus 5% GST
We operate these tours from May 23 – October 11, 2020.