WLM Summer 2019 - Page 26

WLM | explore to the south wouldn’t mind an honorable mention. Just in my moment of fatigue chasing the last glacier in Wyoming that I needed to photograph, beneath Cloud Peak in the Bighorns, I was on my way on a three-hour flight back to Alpine when I said to myself, “perhaps Montana is too much.” It didn’t take long to conquer every single one of them in Montana in the airplane, camera in hand for the entire odyssey. From end to end, the glaciers of the American Rockies span about 800 miles, from Glacier National Park to northwest of Boulder, CO. For the most part, they are associated with mountain ranges that are near the border of the Great Plains. Having flown this distance, it is something of a curiosity to see great variance in weather characteristics. One summer of living in Colorado featured the lowest summer snowfall at 13,100 feet. The next year living in Wyoming featured a summer snowfall at 9,500 feet near the Montana border, with frequent light dustings in the shadows of Grand Teton. Timberline at 12,500’ in southern Colorado transitions to 11,500’ in the middle of the state, later dropping to the neighborhood of 10,000’ in Wyoming. Small glaciers than appear at 11,000’ in southern Montana change to small glaciers beneath 9,000’ near the Canadian border, with quite large masses of ice at 10,000’. Where I was living at 9,360’ in Colorado, I was staring at a glacier at the same altitude in Montana. Since the completion of this project, I have had the chance to explore some glaciers in the Pyrenees of Spain and France, and the Alps in France, Switzerland, and Italy. Curiously, timberline in that neck of the woods is 7,500’ (despite being the same latitude as Wyoming and Montana), with glaciers appearing at 10,700’ or so in the Pyrenees, and 9,500’ in the Alps, with the latter featuring glaciers that look like Alaska. At the same token, it is nowhere near as cold in those mountain ranges as the Rockies, which brings me back to the same question I have in each state in the Rockies: what makes a glacier form? 24 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | Summer 2019