Mt Edith Cavell, Giving up the Ghost

11:04 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Remember this photo. Straight ahead, high on the rockwall, is a small round glacier called The Ghost. It is about the size of a city block - its elevation above the snow you see beneath it is about 500 metres (1600 ft)
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Day two with the couple from New Brunswick. Now that I was a bit more confident about their abilities, I figured they'd be okay with something a bit harder.

Mt Edith Cavell offers two hikes. One follows the valley floor beneath the Angel Glacier to a lake nestled in a jhollow at the top of the valley. Every day in the summer hundreds and hundreds of tourists take an easy stroll to see a real glacier from below.

The 'Path of the Glacier walk climbs the side of a lateral moraine crossing a stream or two...


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The Cavell Meadows crosses the same moraine, and climbs steadily through the notch between it and the forest on the side of the valley.
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image.jpg A bit of fresh grizzly scat on the trail to watch out for, image.jpg but great views of Angel Glacier high above on the opposite side of the valley.
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and of the Ghost above it on the headwall.
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My people were doing okay, and we started the climb up through the forest. A bit of a grind with about 200 metres of elevation, but with a gentle enough gradient.
image.jpg Soon enough, the trail breaks out of the forest, revealing more vistas of the glaciers, and opens up into flower covered alpine meadows.
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image.jpg Lots of photo ops
image.jpg and a nice walk up to a scenic lookout. Glaciers and flowers - quite the scenic combination.
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A turn upwards again and we all headed for the third (last 'official') lookout. At 500 metres above the starting point, it's a fairly good hike.
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then a spot to pause for a snack and a rest. At about 2000 metres elevation (8,000 ft) you can feel the effects of the thinning air. The lady decided to stay there and enjoy the views, while her husband and I went on to the summit.


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image.jpg Nasty footing and a few scrambles, but great views.


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Summit, then down again. 

More flowers and some great views,
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image.jpg including marmots, golden mantled ground squirrels, and a pica or two.

We also got shots of some very large avalanches falling off the left side of the Ghost.


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At 5:30 the next morning the Ghost slipped off the side of the mountain and landed in the lake far below. The resulting tsunami of ice, gravel and water swept down the valley for a kilometre, crossed the parking lot, then continued downward to block the road. Had it fallen during the daytime, when the valley was filled with tourists following the easy trail down the bottom, hundreds of people would have died.


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 Still, a nice day for a walk.

11:31 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Beautiful!

9:02 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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wow, that glacial event is astounding! It is so very fortunate it happened when no one was below in the runout path. 

It's great you got a picture of a Pica, I haven't seen any in the wild yet myself, but they have got to be one of the cutest critters on the planet :) 

12:10 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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The fall of the Ghost was a huge event - imagine the impact of ANYTHING that big falling hundreds of metres into a shallow lake. Because it would have slid off the Cavell Glacier at the bottom of the cliff and gone into the lake at an angle, the effect would have been to direct the water in one direction - directly down the path.

As for cute animals, picas gather flower stems and grasses and carry them all over the place. The clients got some great shots of this little guy using his grass as an umbrella. Two of the ground squirrels also put on a little wrestling match for us - very fun to watch as they rolled around and chased each other across the rocks. There was also a hoary marmot right by the trail, but I'm not quite sure where I put the photos.

12:44 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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More pics of the Ghost:

Aerial photo (FYI, the mud from the lake is the tan material):
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Hole where it was:
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The lake full of ice and debris:
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Aerial shot of parking lot (1 km AWAY from the lake!)
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Damage at the parking lot.
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The road going down to the valley:
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Quite a mess!

12:53 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Wow! There's nothing like being present at a natural catastrophe, or its aftermath  -- especially without (anyone) getting hurt!

3:15 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Great report. The first time I learned about Mt. Edith Cavell, was a  presentation in the seventies or eighties about the first winter ascent. Quite an epic adventure. Events like the fall of the Ghost can happen anywhere. We always need to be mindful of conditions and dangers.

1:56 p.m. on August 17, 2012 (EDT)
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And here's that photo of the marmot I mentioned.


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Not very shy at all. I guess the people protect them from the grizzlies.

5:21 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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The Ghost risk assessment, 2 1/2 weeks later.

Pieces of the glacier at the bottom:


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and damage to the road.

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December 18, 2014
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