It’s Just An Ice Walk
Anyone who’s watched movies like Disney’s Frozen must be wondering how it’s like to live in that land. Pure ice, snow, and harsh winds — surely it would be sad and dreary? Well maybe the movies were right — there is some sort of magic in those cold, white places. At least that’s what I thought as I stepped onto the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, Canada.
Famously traversed by tours such as the “Ice Walk”, the icefield is the largest mass in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. From its melting glaciers and layers of snow spring tributaries that run across the whole continent. These flow into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. This alone gives you an idea of how massive this ice form is.
When we decided to go to the icefield most of the brochures were only showing the bus tour. However, this sounded a little like a tourist trap — your run-off-the-mill tour through a famous place. I wanted something more intimate, and something that felt less “touristy”. Hence, when we heard about the Ice Walk, we decided that this was the route we will be taking. And I’m really glad we chose that route.
Walking the White Lands
Because of its physical nature, Ice Walk attracts less people. Hence, we were able to explore more freely than if we were in a large group.
Another big plus was the experienced tour guide. He was really good, and he gave us all the information we need. Most of the tour guides in the Ice Walk came from New Zealand and Canada, as well as other nations with alpine guiding traditions. All of Ice Walk’s guides have years of experience leading tourists through massive glaciers both in winter and in summer.
We were also told that the guides are trained in first aid procedures. They also carry two-way radios in case of emergency. This made us feel a whole lot safer in their company. They were also accredited by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or equivalent associations.
For those going through this the first time, it is important to bring sunscreen and sunglasses. One should also wear warm clothes, and bring his own food and water. Cameras and binoculars are great things to have — you wouldn’t want to miss fleeting moments of beauty in this new world.
Ice Walks will take care of providing you with boots, crampons (boot spikes), gloves, and rain jackets. These are all free of charge! Every tour will begin with checking your equipment so you are sure to be ready to brave the Ice Walk.
This tour teaches a lot about the glaciers, especially since the guides are proficient in natural history. Many have even taken lessons to accurately interpret the phenomena they see. It was a fascinating experience — we saw up close the different crevices, fissures, and other formations on the ice. I’m really glad we took this tour. We wouldn’t have been able to experience this intimate interaction if we had taken the bus.