The Adventure

4 Photos – 4 Years – Shocking Glacier Changes

Posted by Topher Donahue on Thu, Aug 11, 2011

In 2007, with CMH Summer Adventures, I visited and photographed Iceberg Lake, a stunning location with glaciers and waterfalls pouring off of Mt. Malloy into a turquoise lake above the Bobbie Burns Lodge.  In 2011 I returned again.  In just four years, the recession of the glaciers was shockingly obvious. 

Over the same four years, my kids grew from infants to sturdy little kids and I added a few wrinkles and grey hairs – but the glacier changed far more dramatically than my children or me.   Here are two photos that show that the glacier must have receded about 50 feet each year for the past four years.

2007:glacier helicopter 2007

2011:glacier helicopter 2011

By my estimates, within a decade this glacier will no longer be visible from Iceberg Lake.

These second photos show the Malloy Glacier where it pours over cliffs into Iceberg Lake.  While much larger than the ice tongue in the above photos, the change is still dramatic:

glacier recession photo 
Notice the middle tongue in the photos.  In 2007, the left photo, the middle ice tongue connects to the main glacier.  By 2011, the right photo, the middle tongue has deteriorated to an icy cliff. 

From a mountaineer’s perspective, the difference is even more dramatic.  In 2004 the icefall would have been climbable for an experienced team.  By 2011, nobody in their right mind would venture onto the broken and unstable ice.

During the same time, the view from the Bugaboo Lodge reveals that a massive cookie, the size of two football fields, fell out of the Bugaboo Glacier, revealing bare rock underneath.

Most of the glaciers on the planet reveal similar changes, but during a CMH Summer Adventure, we cover so much terrain and the helicopter allows for so many dramatic views of the glaciers, that the changes are visibly shocking.  Photographer Jim Balog did an extensive project photographing glacial change for National Geographic, but somehow it is far more powerful to see it for yourself.

When I got home from the trip, I talked to my wife about the differences I’d observed in the glaciers over four short years.  She replied, “I guess we’d better take our kids - so they can tell their kids that they touched glaciers.”

Tags: Bobbie Burns Lodge, Glaciers, CMH Summer Adventures, Bugaboo Lodge