Iceberg Lake

Elevation: 2260 m
Elevation Gain: 300 m
Iceberg Lake is the unofficial name of the tarn which collects meltwater from the toe of the Bow Glacier. The glacier rests on an escarpment just above the lake and occasional serac fall is presumably the source of the lake’s namesake icerbergs. Iceberg Lake is drained by Bow Glacier Falls which cascade 154 m down a steep headwall en route to Bow Lake, the headwater of the Bow River. A little over 100 years ago, Iceberg Lake and Bow Glacier Falls did not exist as they were completely covered by the (then much larger) Bow Glacier. Header photo courtesy Marko Stavric.
My Ascents:
August 30 2015.

After weeks of preparation, invitations were issued, RSVPs received, balloons and streamers hung and snacks laid out. Everything was ready for the grand occasion that was Brianne’s baby shower! All that remained was for the men (Crux, myself and both grandpas-to-be) to escape before a houseful of women arrived with their offerings of cute baby outfits, toys and other miscellaneous newborn paraphernalia!

The perfect escape: beautiful Bow Lake! After taking our wedding photos here, this spot is near and dear to our families’ hearts. As a result, the grandpas and I thought it would be a great spot to spend some quality time hiking together (certainly preferable to the alternative which involved staying inside amongst 2 dozen baby-mad women)! Our objective for the day would be the source of the waterfalls visible here, Iceberg Lake.

Overcast skies preside over fall colors. It may still be August (barely) but fall has arrived in the Rockies.

Grandpa Gary, Crux and I make our way along Bow Lake’s scenic shore following the Bow Hut hiking trail. It might be fall in the Rockies now but the cool temperatures and snow dusting the peaks above hint at another impending change of seasons…

Grandpa Gary pauses to enjoy the view just upstream of Bow Lake.

Well-maintained stairs ascend the west side of a gorge and provide the day’s first real elevation gain over 3 km beyond the trailhead.

To access Bow Hut (and Iceberg Lake) one must cross from the west side of the gorge to the east side using this immense chockstone. Rumor has it that Parks Canada saved a significant amount on bridge construction and maintenance by dropping this massive boulder here.

Looking back from slightly upstream as another party tackles the impressive chockstone bridge.

Above the gorge, the forest becomes sparse and Bow Glacier Falls are beautifully revealed amongst the surrounding moraine moonscape. Mouse over to see the route which we used to surmount the headwall en route to Iceberg Lake. It’s amazing to think that all this was buried beneath the Bow Glacier only a century ago!

Crux bravely fords the raging glacial stream. Unfortunately, there was no conveniently placed massive boulder to aid with this creek crossing.

Crux, Grandpa Gary and I pause for a breather as we exploit a sparse trail to make our way up the left side of the steep moraine at the base of the headwall.

Making our way onto the well-cairned ledge the traverses the headwall about half way up.

Travel along the ledge is easy but things do get a little narrow in places!

Looking back towards Bow Lake from the airy ledge.

Safe and sound on the other side of the ledge. From here, a good trail traverses back and forth on forested ledges which lead up and over the rest of the headwall. Expect some easy scrambling in places.

Groveling up glacial debris. Once we gained the top of the headwall, we had to climb another moraine beyond which Iceberg Lake lies. Note the deteriorating weather…

Iceberg (Lake) right ahead! Unfortunately, we couldn’t really see the lake as we were blasted by freezing rain and snow as soon as we crested the moraine. Talk about a disaster...

Let it snow (sigh). Just another beautiful August afternoon in the Canadian Rockies.

A cold Crux tries to weather the storm.

Grandpa Gord and Grandpa Gary shelter behind a large boulder. We tried to hide from the storm for 15 to 20 minutes but eventually had to throw in the towel as the wet now soaked through our clothes and our fingers froze.


Crux expertly tackles one of the more scrambly bits of the headwall.

Look at those poor puppy dog eyes. “Why do you make me do this?”

Crux wasn’t super keen about fording the raging glacial stream on descent (not sure why – we were already soaked anyways). In any event, a slice of cheese proved to be incentive enough (just like chocolate with Brianne). Mouse over to see what this mountain dog will do for cheese (what won’t Crux do for cheese?).

Making our way back along the edge of the gorge.

Looking back upstream towards the headwall from the middle of the chockstone.

Clouds begin to lift from Mount Andromache, Little Hector and Bow Peak as we retrace our steps along the soggy shoreline.

Almost back to the car and, of course, the weather has improved! By this time, however, we were all freezing, soaked and exhausted. Still way better than sitting through a baby shower though! ;-)

Diaper cake for dinner! Nothing like baby shower leftovers after a long, cold day in the mountains! Despite the poor weather, the boys all had fun and I’d be amiss if I didn’t thank all the lovely ladies who made Brianne’s shower a great day for her too. Special thanks to the Grandmas-to-be and Jana for organizing such a great shower (and giving us boys an excuse to f*** off to the mountains)!