Iceline Trail

Elevation: 2210 m
Elevation Gain: 690 m
My Ascents:
August 19 2006, September 2 2012
Trailhead: HI Yoho Whiskey Jack Hostel Parking

Our day started early and cold! My bride-to-be and I rushed to Lake Louise early in the morning in order to tour various potential wedding venues before meeting her parents (my future in-laws) for a hike in Yoho. As we drove out along the Trans-Canada, very little could be seen through the heavy cloud and the thermometer in the car suggested that it was a frigid 3°C outside. Good thing we’re planning on getting married around this same time next year! Fortunately, as the morning passed, the clouds lifted and although the day was still overcast, the cloud level rose to over 11,000 feet, therefore, permitting views of all of the truly spectacular peaks in the area. After various tours, we met up with Brianne’s parents and car-pooled down the continental divide towards Field and the trailhead of the Iceline, where we started up at 12:40pm (so much for an alpine start)!

After an unforgiving hour in the trees, things finally start to open up and the views improved steadily with every meter of elevation gained. Here you can see Takakkaw Falls and the valley bottom where we began our ascent. Takakkaw is Cree for “magnificent” and this, the second highest waterfall in western Canada, truly is.

Someone (likely on a Parks trail crew) was considerate enough to drop rock steps here to ease our ascent.

Bonding time (read: break time).

Improving views of the Daly Glacier and the Waputik Icefield which feed Takakkaw Falls. The rounded Mount Niles (or French-killer as I like to call it) visible on the right with Mount Daly in behind.

Beautiful Mount Balfour, seen here from the western side for a change of pace. The smaller sharp peak in the foreground is Trolltinder Mountain.

Brianne and her mom pose in front of the quickly receding Emerald Glacier below the steep slopes of the Vice-President.

Apparently this stick was more enticing than the view…

Beautiful views of Mount Wapta and its challenging summit block to the south.

When I saw the Daly Glacier from Mount Niles, it was among the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. Here, from across the valley, it’s equally scenic.

Once the elevation gain is over with, the Iceline Trail is a never-ending panorama. Here, Mount Victoria, Cathedral Mountain and Mount Wapta dominate the southern panorama. Click image to see larger.

More “bonding”.

Crux and Brianne dwarfed by the Emerald Glacier upon arriving at the first tarn.

“Aren’t you guys coming in? Water’s nice…”

The seracs, crevasses and icefalls of the Emerald Glacier are one of many highlights on this trail.

Group shot in front of Mounts Balfour, Daly and Niles. Someone was being uncooperative…

A little better this time…except for that floating head peeping up over the dog.

Brianne, Gary and Karen starting the hike back down the Iceline Trail with stunning Cathedral Mountain as their backdrop. Rather than spend a pleasant afternoon with good company, my compulsive need for elevation gain took over and I opted to jog the remainder of the Iceline Trail to the highpoint (~2 km in the wrong direction) before jogging back to catch up to them on descent. If they hadn’t been going so fast, I wouldn’t have had to run so far (~7 km all told)!

The next in a series of never-ending tarns on my trail run. Mount McArthur (left), Isolated Peak (center) and Whaleback Mountain (right) to the north.

Panorama to give a better idea as to the extent of the Emerald Glacier’s size from tarn X along the Iceline.

Finally at the high point! Stunning views of the Lake Louise group to the south. Worth the run? Maybe…

“Can we go back now?” My poor trusty running partner. It took him and I about 5 km of running to catch back up with our group. Guess I went on a little further than intended. Woops!

Almost down! Takakkaw Falls looking much higher from here. Another beautiful day on the Iceline!