Columbia Icefield, Rocky Mountains, Canada (I)

AUGUST 2002 – A milestone indicate the foot of the Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the year 2000. In the two years that had passed since then, the glacier had melted a couple of feet again. © Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

Traveling along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) in the Canadian Rocky Mountains will bring you inevitably to the Athabasca Glacier which is part of the Columbia Icefields, certainly one of the key attractions of the park. Situated right in the middle between Jasper and Lake Louise, there’s a parking lot at its foot which is also the beginning of a short, but steep, trail up to the glacier. At the Icefield Center opposite of the glacier you can buy tickets for a coach service. We recommend to save your money and use the free parking lot instead. However, the trail up to the Columbia Icefield requires some power, as we are in 2,000 m altitude!

On your way up, posters will explain the danger of the glacier. One poster – headlined “Time Is Not On Your Side” – tells the tragic story of a nine-year-old boy, who fell into a crevasse on July 4th, 2001. At 4:18 pm he fell in a crevasse at the toe of the Athabasca Glacier. At 6:00 pm he is still buried under frozen snow. At 7:47 pm the boy is finally pulled to the surface. The doctors declare him dead at the Seton General Hospital in Jasper at 8:50 pm. It is very dangerous to walk outside the marked area!

This image is interesting, because the park management has put milestones highlighting where the icefield actually began in a given year. This milestone from the year 2000 shows that a bit has melted away in the two years that have passed since erecting the milestone.

Here’s a more recent image showing what has happened since August 2002 when I took the photo above. Not good.

The high resolution image

Capture Date22-AUG-2002
LocationJasper National Park, Canada
CameraCanon AE-1 Program
LensCanon FD 50mm f/1.4
Image SourceFuji Slide Film
Digital Image SourceMinolta Dimage Scan Elite II
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, AdobeRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions2469 x 3792 Pixels
Copyright© by Mark Zanzig/

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