Winter, er, springtime in the Rockies

Columbia IcefieldsWinter is almost gone on the prairies of Alberta. In a few more weeks, the remaining patches of snow will disappear bringing us into the season of brown.

Each season has it’s own challenges and rewards. By the middle of January, we have already become acclimatized to the cold. Weather that would have been unbearable without a parka in November now seems almost summer like.

After a few weeks of snow the novelty of winter has disappeared for the fair weather shooters. They can  resume their spot on the couch in front of another pitiful year of Oilers hockey while they wait for spring.

I love winter shooting because it is the overlooked season. Want to shoot the  landscape? Spring, summer and fall. If you dress warmly winter can be downright pleasant.

This weekend the family and I headed to Marmot for a weekend of spring skiing. They skied and I took pictures. Spring time in the Rockies. You can never be sure what the weather will bring. Sunny and plus 10C or blizzard and -20C?

Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 a.m. and heading to the Columbia icefields. It had drizzled a little overnight and my initial thought was that the roads might be icy. That was not the case. By the time I had reached Athabasca Falls, there was already a few centimeters of snow on the highway and mine were the first tracks going south. Near Beauty Creek, there was about 25 centimeters of snow on the road and I was thinking it was going to be tough getting past Tangle Falls on the north side of the icefields. There is a fairly steep elevation gain and then drop there. Would the little Toyota make it?

It was so beautiful at Tangle Creek I almost stopped there to forgo the sunrise at the icefields. Beneath an almost clear sky, there was a thick low lying fog lying over the frozen Beauty Creek. I could already see picture possibilities but I continued south.

It turned out to be easy going through even deeper snow the rest of the way. The snow was light and powdery and the Toyota made it through without me ever having to put it in four wheel drive.

I reached my destination about forty minutes before sun up. Bundle up. Grab my camera gear and off I went to get a closer view of the icefields.  As I trudged uphill, the snow alternated from hard pack to waist deep powder. Oh for a pair of snowshoes now!

As it usually does, the wind was gusting down from the mountains occasionally carrying with it clouds of drifting snow.

What you see above is one of many, many shots I got that morning and it only got better as the day progressed.

So just when you think winter should end…

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on March 23, 2009.

2 Responses to “Winter, er, springtime in the Rockies”

  1. If you were looking over a river near Tangle Falls, it wasn’t the Athabasca. It was the Sunwapta. Heading south, you lose sight of the Athabasca somewhere before you reach the turn to Sunwapta Falls, and you never see it again.

  2. Thank you abc def… my bad. It wss Beauty Creek, by the hostel.

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