The Ice Column


Canyon Ice Fall 
 Nearby LaSalle Canyon is a relatively square canyon named Tonti. There are two seasonal waterfalls in this canyon, running mostly in the Spring and after rainfall, but in winter, whatever water is present freezes into a dramatic ice column extending 60 feet to the canyon floor. Tonti Canyon is one of four frozen waterfalls at the park where ice climbing is allowed.

This winter, at least at this point, only one of the waterfalls was frozen completely, the other consisted of icicles hanging from the top of the rock wall. Given a few more weeks, this too will become a complete ice column. The shape of this icefall reminds me of the Native American Thunderbird, with the two wings of ice on either side. Given the area's history, this seems to be an annual spiritual reminder of this Native American presence.

Behind the Ice Column

As this ice column grows, it occupies more space at the canyon floor, and generally so much that one can't walk behind to see the falls from the back. This year, the column was thin enough at this point to easily walk behind for some images of the 60 foot tall ice fall.
As we explored the frozen waterfall, a group of ice climbers began staging their gear to climb the icefall. Permits are required to climb the waterfalls, and as I found out days later, Tonti Canyon is closed to visitors. We did not see a sign on our way in as we followed the tracks in the snow from LaSalle Canyon, so perhaps the closed notice was outdated on the website.

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