Canwell Glacier


Canwell Glacier involves a much longer approach than Castner Glacier, but the ice is more colorful and interesting and the mountain scenery is better. The glacier also sees little traffic, even on sunny weekends in the spring when you might find a train of people heading to Castner. A steady 2.5-mile snowshoe or ski brings you to the wide glacier terminus, where you’ll find a captivating wall of blue ice and often an ice cave or two. (A few of the best ice caves I’ve ever photographed were located at Canwell Glacier, and new ones tend to sprout up every year.) From there, you can spend all day roaming the glacier moraine looking for cool ice features and taking in the view of Institute Peak towering over the glacier. You’ll also have a great view of the sheer south face of 12,660-foot Mt. Shand peeking through a gap in the mountains to the north. It’s possible to reach Canwell Glacier throughout all of winter, but late January through early April is the best time in terms of snow conditions and daylight hours. On a sunny day in March, Canwell Glacier is close to paradise. (No crampons or ice climbing gear required.)

Route Length (half-day only): 3 miles (one-way), elevation gain 200 feet
Route Length (full-day): up to 5 miles (one-way), elevation gain 500 feet