Arete Peak & Waterfall Valley – 25 Years Apart

After reading my trip report from a solo ascent of Arete Peak in 2019, Graeme Pole started digging through his Kodachrome slides from his trip 25 years previous. He was curious about the amount of change we’d see, especially in regards to the glaciers. I have to say that when he started sending me comparison photos my first thought wasn’t how much things had changed, but rather how similar they were a quarter of a century apart. For example see the next two comparisons – Graeme’s shots are always on the left, mine on the right and it should be noted that he went about a month after me in a dry fall.

The first few comparisons are the summit of Mont Des Poilus which is a stone’s throw from Arete’s peak and actually looks a bit drier on Graeme’s shot and a glance over at the Mummery Group which looks quite similar in our two photos. When I look closely I can see that the Mummery glaciers are definitely thinner in mine.



The second set of photos is looking towards Mount Hector and Balfour. Again – at first glance these look almost identical. It’s only when you start squinting that you notice that Balfour’s glacier is a bit thinner in 2019. Once again however, Graeme’s photo shows less snow / ice near Hector’s summit and the exact same snow patches at the Yoho / Collie col. Of course the new ACC hut shows up on my shot and not Graeme’s.


It’s only when you look at the next set of photos from lower down into Waterfall Valley on Arete’s SE slopes that things are obviously changed. Notice how there is a remnant glacier in Graeme’s photo and two lakes in mine? I can’t help but wonder if there will even be lakes in another 25 years and if folks might wonder at the name, “Waterfall Valley” in another 25 after that? Also notice how much thicker the ice of the Des Poilus Glacier is in Graeme’s photos than in mine.


The following two sets of photos don’t align perfectly but they get the point across rather bluntly – the ice toe of the Des Poilus Glacier has dramatically melted back over the past 25 years and now forms the tarn that you see in my photos.


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