Friday, December 19, 2008

Rae Glacier

From the Kananaskis valley, the Elbow valley always beckons us. Guarded by the raw and imposing Mt El Pocca and Mt Arethusa this valley has always been a brief glimps on the way by to somewhere else. At left I've drawn our route from the hiway to the glacier.

As we drove through Kananaskis valley, the clouds and fog were lifting as a new system blasted in. But for an hour, the mountains were half bathed in fog making some super views.

On this particular snowy day in October, we parked at the Elbow day use parking lot 6400ft and hiked in to Elbow lake. On the shore of the lake we met a couple backcountry skiers who had been tele-skiing on the glacier that morning. After getting the ski report we braved the increasing winds and snow as we hiked up the river to Rae Glacier which feeds the Elbow River and is the source of Calgary's water. At left, Suz pauses in the glacial deathscape, a desolate environment made more harsh by the 60km/hr wind stripping us of our comfort. But undeterred, we plodded through the snow to the glacier's toe before retreating to the valley.

As cold and miserable as it was, this was a good advertisement for the Elbow Valley. In the two pictures below, it is pretty easy to imagine a beautiful summer day following the river round the next turn and scrambling up the lofty peaks that rise above the valley. We'll definitely return here either as a multi-day trip through Pipestone Pass directly behind me in the pic, or to scramble part of Mt. El Pocca.

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