Sunrise over wedge mountain garibaldi park

An Ode to the Glacier Walk

Hiking through the mountains of British Columbia, sooner or later you’ll need to cross a glacier. These ancient remnants of our last ice age elicit both awe and curiosity and come in every possible shape, size and thickness. They may require specialized equipment to traverse or climb them. But for the non-polar explorers, the so called “glacier walk” lets people experience the sensation of travelling over ice and snow in without committing to an arduous mountaineering trip.

Click here for our guided hiking tours, if your looking for a traditional wilderness hiking experience.

Glacier walk Vince Shuley
At 77km long, the Fedchenko Glacier in Tajikistan is the largest non-polar glacier in the world | Photo Vince Shuley


Glaciers presently cover approximately 15 million square kilometers, roughly 10 percent of the world’s landmass (for reference, the last Ice Age that number was as high as 32 percent). Most of that landmass is within the polar ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, but glaciers can be found on every continent except Australia. In some parts of the world they are the lifeblood of nations, providing main source of drinking water and crop irrigation for millions of people.


Glacier walk
The Vowell Glacier in Bugaboo Provincial Park | Photo Vince Shuley

Glacier Walk – What’s Cooler Than Being Cool?

Heading out on a glacier walk lets you get up close and personal with ancient snow and ice sheets. The Whistler glacier (on Whistler Mountain) is estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old and is currently retreating, meaning every summer it decreases in size by a few metres. With temperatures rising all over the world, the Whistler Glacier itself could disappear completely in just a few decades.

Glacier walk
Glissanding the Whistler Glacier in early summer


Plunge your ice axe into the snow, clip into the guide’s rope and follow in the footsteps of the mountaineers of yore. What better way to explore an alpine glacier and appreciate it’s grandeur? With views of the Coast Mountain landscape over your shoulder, a glacier walk really is a quintessential Canadian experience that’s suitable for any folks with a moderate level of fitness.

Glacier walk
Sunrise on the Wedgemount Glacier | Photo Vince Shuley


Whether out for an afternoon glacier walk or a multi-week expedition to cross a polar ice field, every person who sets foot on a glacier is humbled by these powerful formations of ice and snow. Over history, glaciers have sculpted mountains and carved out mountains. Don’t let them disappear without setting foot on them first.

Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures offers daily glacier walk tours on Whistler Mountain with an option for glissading (sliding down the glacier) in the early summer months. Ready for a greater mountain  challenge? Check out our guided mountaineering adventures.

For summer Hikes and Walks visit our Whistler guided hikes page. 

Written by: Vince Shuley

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