Columbia Icefields near Jasper, Canada

Walking on Ice

by Nicole on July 9, 2013

In front of me I could only see white. Turning my head each way I could only see white. Looking behind me a huge red shape cut through the whiteness, a beacon in the great white unknown.

I tested my right foot on the white, crunch. I tested my left, crunch. I walked straight forward with my arms out – like a person walking on a tightrope – as the sound continued to follow my every step. I was walking on ice.

Below me was more than 300 metres worth of glacier, even taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, frozen solid beneath my feet. The group, also testing the whiteness, had been warned that if we strayed from the path created for us we could fall through the deep layers of whiteness or into a crack in the ice.

One of the girls yelled, “It’s snowing!” The white stuff was given a name. We have nothing like this where I am from.

Jasper-Columbia-Icefield-Russell

Everyone else seemed at ease in the whiteness so I bent down and touched it, quickly snatching my hand back; wetness soaked my glove and the harsh coldness stung at my skin.

Russell bent down and picked up some of the snow. Instead of bundling it up into a ball to throw he popped a piece in his mouth, wincing a little from the cold, but slowly eating it. Romy called out, “just don’t eat the yellow snow.”  A chorus of giggles went up from the girls within earshot of the remark.

I had to taste the white snow.

Jasper-Columbia-Icefield-Nicole

Leaning out over the edge of the circle to where some fresh powder-looking snow was I grabbed a chunk. The coldness of it bit into my hand and my fingers turned pink as I compacted it into a small hard ball. I braced myself and took a bite of the white. It was like eating hard, cold fairy floss without the sugar rush but there was a sweetness as the ice dissolved on my warm tongue.

I bit into it again as I walked around the group  - crunch, crunch, crunch. As the glacier melts during the summer, there are little streams where drink bottles can be filled with the sweet tasting glacier water.
I watched as Makoto carefully slid to his knees and filled his bottle, narrowly avoiding falling in as he leaned forward and then as Rishad managed to trip and almost fall into the tiny steam, instead settling for a shoe full of water; Despite how many times we’d experienced snow we all still had issues walking on ice.

Jasper-Columbia-Icefield-Brewster-Rishad-Romy

Bundling back onto the monster “snow coach” we headed back off into the great white as our journey onto the Athabasca Glacier came to an end. One last snow ball was thrown at the office and soon we were on our way back into Jasper, but at least I could say that I had walked on the ice.

Would you go for a walk on a glacier?

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DetailsBrewster-Travel-Logo-Footer

Columbia Icefield

When: This years season will run from April 19th until October 20th, 2013.

Where:
Columbia Icefield Discover Centre
Icefield Parkway,
Banff, Alberta

How Much? Adults - CDN$49.95, Children (5-15) - CDN$24.90. Children under 5 ride for free when sharing a seat with an adult.

For the latest pricing please check their ticket website or click here to book Columbia Icefield Tickets (not including transportation).

How to get there:

You can book transportation with your Columbia Icefield Experience ticket, otherwise the drive is around 1.5hours from Jasper or 3 from Banff.

Click here to book packages which include transportation to the Icefield.

Extra Information:

Website: www.explorerockies.com/columbia-icefield

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Post Image: Maurice Li

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren Meshkin July 10, 2013 at 6:10 am

Wow! Seems a bit terrifying to me but I’m sure it’s amazing. Loved your story.
Sign me up!

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2 Nicole July 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

I’ve only seen snow twice (and once it wasn’t really snow but sleet) before I went to Canada so I was really lucky to experience this ‘wonder’, haha.

Thank you for your kind comment! I really appreciate it.

Hope you get a chance to walk on the ice!

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3 On A Junket July 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Great adventure! Fairy floss – good analogy. Thanks for sharing your experience…isn’t snow fun!

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4 Nicole July 17, 2013 at 11:34 am

Thanks for leaving a comment, guys!

I LOVE snow! Somewhat wish I saw it more but when I hear the chaos it can occur or I slip on the ice I’m pretty happy to choose if I see it or not!

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5 Rahman @ Destination Iran July 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I’ve walked on icy surface of a the water in a swimming pool when I was almost 10. I can’t forget the thrill of the moment when the ice broke and I went down. It was, of course, freezing cold and not that deep, but knowing that you’re walking on some ice with 100s of meters depth beneath is more than breath-taking. I can feel the adrenaline!

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Rahman Mehraby
Destination Iran

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6 Nicole July 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

Oh wow, that would have been pretty scary to fall into a frozen pool!
The thought of falling through the snow and ice kept me within the boundary but the want to touch the fluffy powdery show beyond almost got the better of me.

Thanks for sharing, Rahman!

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7 Michael July 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

This looks like an awesome (and cold) experience!

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8 Nicole July 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

It was a very cold experience – my teeth were chattering the whole time – but totally worth it to learn more about the glacier!

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9 Ross January 24, 2014 at 3:55 am

That sounds awesome. I must remember not to stray from the trail if I ever do it!

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