Banff, Canadian Rockies:  ….. and now for something else completely different.

We arrived after the cold snap, For a couple of weeks temperatures had dropped down as low as -40oC.  And that was in town at 1,400 metres.  Even colder on the ski slopes going up to nearly double that altitude.  Some days ski lifts were closed, too cold to ski and too cold to be sure of the effect on steel structures.  Telling folks that it had been cold in the UK, temperatures having dropped to about -10oC, didn’t cut much ice.

We arrived in a balmy -15oC, warming up at times to -5oC and, on the odd occasion, to 0.  A bit fresher than the +30oC when I left Symi in mid-October.

The usual pilgrimage along the river to the Bow Falls was as spectacular as always.  The trail over the crags was lethal without cleats on boots, people hanging on to the handrails and sliding. Still, a sign warned us: “Trail not maintained in winter.  Use at own Risk”

Upstream of the town bridge the river was frozen across and snow-covered as usual.

Because of the weeks of very low temperatures, downstream of the town bridge where the river flows faster and maintains a clear channel, there was less open water than the last few times I was here (2019, 1BC) and more ice.   The ice fractures as it is pushed towards the falls, tilts in huge slabs and piles up as if pushed by a juggernaut. Large sink holes disappear into the frothing abyss below.

The Canadian Rockies and hard winter have other interests as well as dramatic scenery.  Wildlife can be elusive in winter but the ‘warmer’ weather recently has seen much red squirrel activity in the pine forests around Banff.  They not only forage pinecones for food but chase each other on the forest floor, around and up trees, between trees – and all at breakneck speed making capturing them in a photo very difficult.  Not sure whether this high-speed activity is aggressive or amorous in intent, or simply for fun.

There is beauty at the micro level too.  In the bitter cold, ice crystals form on the outside of windows, growing and changing day-by-day, hour-by-hour.  Overnight temperatures down to -20oC produce nocturnal works of art.



This entry was posted in Canada, Hiking, Landscape, Mountains, Nature, Photography, Weather, Wildlife, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Banff, Canadian Rockies:  ….. and now for something else completely different.

  1. Alison Crane says:

    Incredible photos, thank you!

  2. Stu Newland says:

    Hi Barry,

    Happy New Year!

    Good to hear from you, and really like the photos – the ice crystal photos are amazing.

    It sounds like it was a little bit cooler in the rockies than the European ski slopes have been recently!

    All the best, Stu

    Stuart Newland

    Address: 9 Shoolbraids, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8ER, United Kingdom Phone: +44 (0) 7739 395859 Email:

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