Ablation Zone Glossary of Hiking Terms
Ablation Zone: the annual loss of snow and ice from a glacier as a result of melting, evaporation, iceberg calving, and sublimation which exceeds the accumulation of snow and ice. Located below the firn line. Firn originated from Swiss German and means "last year's snow". It has been compacted and recrystallized making it harder and more compact than snow, though less compact than glacial ice. The images above and below are of Wedge Glacier's, glacier window.
An excellent place to see an ablation zone is Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park in Whistler. The Wedgemount Glacier has been receding for decades. In the 1970's the glacier terminated with a steep and vertical wall of ice at the shores of Wedgemount Lake. Today the glacier terminates a couple hundred metres above Wedgemount Lake.
Another famously stunning glacier in Garibaldi Park is Overlord Glacier(pictured below). Hiking from Whistler Village up the Singing Pass Trail (14k) to Russet Lake gives you a great vantage point to this marvellous monster. The adventurous head down the valley just 2 kilometres to see Overlord Glacier up close. Click the image here to see an aerial video of Adit Lakes, Overlord Glacier, The Fissile and Russet Lake.
The glaciers around Whistler have been receding quite dramatically in recent years. The Wedge Glacier ended at the shores of Wedgemount Lake just two decades ago. Old pictures of the lake show a massive wall of blue ice at the far shore of the lake. Now you can measure the ablation zone well over a couple hundred metres up the valley.
Russet Lake(pictured above) is a fantastic alpine lake that lays at the base of the Fissile. The Fissile is the strikingly bronze coloured mountain so visible from Whistler Village. From the Village look into the distance at the Peak to Peak hanging between Whistler and Blackcomb and you will see the Fissile. Its pyramid shape in the distance perfectly separates the two mountains. Though Russet Lake is not terribly impressive in terms of size or colour, the valley around it is remarkably beautiful. The colours change from moment to moment in and extraordinary way. The distinctive colour of the Fissile and the stark grey of the mountains around contrast amazingly with the blue of the lake and green grass in the valley. So many different factors fill the place with colour.
Glossary of Hiking Terms Whistler Hiking Trails