August 20, 2009

Bugaboo Glacier, British Columbia Retreat

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Bugaboo Glacier is the most visible glacier of the Bugaboo Range in southern British Columbia. The Conrad Kain Hut who was the first mountaineer to explore the range is adjacent to the glacier and is the main starting point for climbers lured to the region by the fantastic quartz monszonite spires. Since Conrad Kain’s visit in 1910 with the famous mountain explorer Tom Longstaff the Bugaboo Glacier has retreated 2150 meters. The glacier continues to flow around both sides of Snowpatch Spire, the aptly named peak surrounding by the glacier on the left side of the glacier. Also notice the glacier width declines as it descends past a prominent ridge trending toward the glacier from the right, before expanding in the valley below. bugaboooldThe glacier used to flow all the way to the valley bottom. The active front was both steep and crevassed By the early 1970’s the glacier had retreated from the valley bottom and had begun to retreat up the mountain slope adjacent to the Kain Hut. Snowpatch Spire is still surrounded by ice, but ice that is not as crevassed, indicating reduced thickness and velocity. The glacier than ended somewhat below where the ridge approached from the right of the glacier.
bugaboo72 In the ensuing 34 years the glacier has continued to retreat up the slope and is notably thinner coming down the final steep slope. The glacier ends at the termination of the ridge on the right of the glacier. The glacier has retreated 420 m since 1972. bugaboo6. The first view is nearly identical to the 1972 view and the second more similar to the 1910 viewbugaboo06 A Google Earth image from 2005 of the terminus region indicates that the lower 700 meters of the current glacier is thin and lacks any crevasses indicating it nearly stagnant. By 2012 the terminus had retreated 80-90 m from 2005, yellow arrow indicates 2012 terminus, pink arrow 2005. This is in contrast to an active front, which indicates a healthy glacier, that would be thick and crevassed. A healthy glacier can still be retreating, the front was active at the time of my first visit to the glacier in 1984. The glacier is still 3.5 kilometers long and even after the retreat the glacier will still have a substantial length and area. bugaboo terminus 2005

bugaboo terminus 2012