Photo Friday: Sperry Glacier

Sperry Glacier is located 25 miles south of the border between the United States and Canada, in Montana’s Glacier National Park. It is a winter-accumulation glacier, as more snow falls during the winter than is lost during the summer. The moderate-sized glacier can be reached by foot or on horseback, rising to an elevation of around 7,800 feet. The glacier was named for doctor Lyman Beecher Sperry, who in 1894 reasoned that the glacier was the cause of the cloudiness of the water in Avalanche Lake. When Sperry and his party first reached the glacier in 1897, his nephew Albert Sperry had this reaction after viewing the glacier:

While standing upon that peak overlooking the terrain above the rim wall, we got the thrill of thrills, for there lay the glacier, shriveled and shrunken from its former size, almost senile, with its back against the mountain walls to the east of it, putting up its last fight for life. It was still what seemed to be a lusty giant, but it was dying, dying, dying, every score of years and as it receded, it was spewing at its mouth the accumulations buried within its bosom for centuries.

Today, you can visit Sperry Glacier and walk along the same route that Sperry and his party traveled 120 years ago, although the glacier looks very different today. Join us on this visual tour of the glacier’s past and present. We hope that concerted action on greenhouse gas emissions will assure that this beautiful glacier has a future.

 

Sperry Glacier viewed from Avalanche Lake in 1894 or 1895 (Source: U.S. National Park Service).
Sperry Glacier viewed from Avalanche Lake in 1894 or 1895 (Source: U.S. National Park Service).

 

 

Close up of Sperry Glacier (Distress.bark/Creative Commons).
Close up of Sperry Glacier (Distress.bark/Creative Commons).

 

 

Glacier National Park (Source: U.S. Geological Survey).
Glacier National Park (Source: U.S. Geological Survey).

 

 

Avalanche Lake, Montana (Source: Bachspics/Flickr).
Avalanche Lake, Montana, fed by Sperry Glacier (Source: Bachspics/Flickr).

 

 

Sperry Glacier, 2009 (Source: Lee Coursey/Flickr).
Sperry Glacier, 2009 (Source: Lee Coursey/Flickr).

 

 

View of a hiker on Sperry Glacier trail (Source: Lee Coursey/Creative Commons)
View of a hiker on Sperry Glacier trail (Source: Lee Coursey/Creative Commons)
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