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Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, 14 Dec. 2013


Peter
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The Ice Walk at Maligne Canyon is one of those great little trips that everybody should do at least once in their lifetime. The difficulty is easy enough that just about anybody can do it, and the whole thing takes just a couple of hours.

The trailhead is a short distance outside the town of Jasper and it's easy to get to; there are six bridges over the canyon, and the hike begins at the Fifth Bridge. Two years ago, the original bridge was washed out by flooding, and now a temporary bridge is installed every year.

The hike begins with a walk on the rocks beside the river. The footing is uncertain, but the scenery is quite pleasant.

After a short distance, you have to climb out. and a trail leads up through the forest. Nice views from above...

...then back down again. There is a lovely 'bridal veil' waterfall that goes year-round, flowing from an underground spring...

...then farther along the river bottom, you reach a keyhole slot. It can be tricky - the best way is to boost one person up, who then anchors themselves and pulls everybody else up.

From this point on, the trail is inside the canyon, and the footing is mostly ice, so crampons, Microspikes or similar ice cleats are mandatory.

More nice views from the canyon floor, and you start to see ice formations building up. For an idea of the scale, this little cave is about 15 feet high.

...and these are about six feet high.

From there on, there's a lot of cool stuff to look at, and a lot of photos to take. Expect to slow down quite a bit.

The canyon bottom widens and you pass below the Fourth Bridge. See the logs on the bottom? They offer footing to get across a spot where the water is flowing.

Around a corner, and you get to the main attractions, a smaller waterfall called the 'Glass Wall' and the main one for ice climbers called 'The Queen'. Look for the climber up top and the belayer at the bottom for a sense of scale.

You can walk past them (watching out for falling ice) and move farther up the canyon, but watch for thin spots in the ice you're walking on. The current is stronger and it's possible to fall through if you're not careful. If in doubt, stop and turn around.

Rather than returning the same way, you can return to the Fourth Bridge and climb out. Instead of following the river trail back, you can pick a higher route for the walk back to the bridge. Makes it more interesting, and offers quite different scenery.

A nice walk, and a great way to spend a few hours. If you're not sure about doing it safely on your own, or about spending a the money to buy ice cleats, there are tour companies that offer guided walks.

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Edited by Peter
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Aaron Zagrodnick

That looks like an amazing hike! Thanks for sharing, great report...Very scenic.

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