By: Thomas Grandi
Glaciers are constantly moving. If they stop moving, they may be dead glaciers.
Talus Lodge is situated at 2300M in the Canadian Rockies, just west of the continental divide. It’s always a fun detail; pee here, and it goes way over there (point east), and it goes over there (point west). The North/ South strip on the divide holds some of the last of the glaciation in the Rockies. Unfortunately, the small ones, like the Talon glacier, are the ones that are melting the fastest!
What intrigues me about Talus and the surrounding area is that clues show change has happened more recently than you think.
From the dining room window, you can see terminal moraines
that pushed and pulled while the glaciers were receding. Another clue is when you walk along those moraines, you find old tree trunks, proving the tree line was once much higher than it is now, hard to believe, but really, no other explanation for it. My perspective is pretty simple; glaciers grow when winter snow lasts through the summer and shrink when it doesn’t.
More recently, like this summer, we witnessed some unprecedented hot temperatures across most of the Northwest. This shock of heat did not spare the Talus zone, and it went from looking like a snowy start to our hiking season to all trails bare in a single week. The oppressive heat dome bore down us; the snow evaporated, leaving the Talon Glacier, one of our favourite ski runs, bare of snow in mid-July.
Top the glacier with a layer of dark soot from all the fires, and the recipe was ripe for significant ice melt. By summer’s end, our favourite glacier ski run was looking like swiss cheese, and the thought of 12 guests following me up left shivers down my spine. Sepp, my Swiss mountain guide father-in-law, made me feel better, “Don’t vorry it vill fill in- insert yodel here!”
My guides training- 3 criteria for skiing glaciers with or without a rope “familiarity- I know there are big holes, snow depth >180cm of dense snow and visibility- can you see the openings or sags?”. One thing is for sure; the glacier will need time to fill in this winter.
My first ascent will be with another guide and not 12 guests this season – this is our new reality. My probe will be handy, and I’ll be on a rope. Thankfully we will have lots of other places to ski in the meantime.
Currently, the snow is starting to fall in the Alpine. I was driving through Kootenay park the other day, and I was craning my neck to check out a potential ski line. I briefly imagined feeling the soft cushion of a fresh layer of snow, my knees pumping and snow flying. It was a sweet line; who knows if I’ll ski it, but the thought of it felt good.
Born in Italy, homegrown in Banff, Thomas Grandi broke away from tradition and became the only Canadian male to win back to back World Cup Giant Slaloms. Despite standing on the tallest podiums in the world of sport, Thomas’ feet never left the ground. Thomas pursued his passion for ski journeys that go both up and down and is an ACMG ski guide.
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