It was around this time in February a couple of years ago that we had the opportunity to go to a location that is only accessible in the winter, so we felt that it was only fitting that it was featured in this and the next installment of One Subject, Two Views.
Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park, Alberta is a very popular year-round attraction, however, most people only get to see it from above – looking down into the canyon. But come the cold temperatures in winter, the ice on the surface of the Maligne River freezes allowing people access into the canyon. Although you might think that the winter weather will keep people away, don’t expect that you will be alone in the canyon. On the contrary once the ice is solid enough to walk on there are guided tours, climbers, and other enthusiast (including photographers) walking in the canyon.
One piece of equipment that is extremely useful, if not required, is a set of crampons or trail crampons. The ice is very slippery and there are places where it is on a slope so without some form of ice grippers on your feet you will have difficulties maneuvering in the canyon and falls can happen very easily.
The easiest and safest way into Maligne Canyon is to walk up from the Fifth Bridge and enter the canyon from the bottom. Most year’s people can easily get up to just above the Fourth Bridge, being stopped by the ice falls. To get above the ice falls, you need to have ice climbing gear.
When you step out onto the ice surface in the canyon it is at first a little exhilarating because you can hear the sounds of the water rushing and bubbling under the ice below your feet. However, it doesn’t take long till you get used to it, start focusing on your surroundings and begin exploring the canyon. A note of caution, the river is still flowing below the ice and there are holes and weak spots so be very careful when you are walking in the canyon; follow the paths and tracks of people who have gone there before you.
In Part One, we have included a photograph that we each took in the upper part of the canyon above the Third Bridge. We were taken into the upper canyon by our friend Ross Pugh who owns Jasper Camera and Gifts on “Main Street” (412 Connaught Drive) in the town of Jasper. It was a magical place, but a challenge to photograph due to tight confines of the canyon. – Leslie & Mark