Welcome to SP!  -
100 Years on the Timpanogos Glacier

100 Years on the Timpanogos Glacier

  Featured on the Front Page
100 Years on the Timpanogos Glacier

Page Type: Article

Object Title: 100 Years on the Timpanogos Glacier


Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Apr 5, 2006 / Nov 20, 2013

Object ID: 186144

Hits: 26118 

Page Score: 95.82%  - 55 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote



The "glacier" is somewhat of an unusual and interesting feature for Utah. A perhaps little known fact is that the glacier used to have some rather large (by Rockies standards) and visible crevasses before the "Dust Bowl Drought" of the 1930's*. Some of the old photos are available at BYU or in Kelsey's book on Timpanogos, and one is posted in the section below.

*(Other than the 1994 crevasse that opened up in the center of the talus bulge on the Timpanogos Glacier, the latest actual first hand report I can find reporting any crevasses is from 1916. If you know of any first hand reports of actual witnesses after this date, please let me know. Some second hand accounts claim that there were occasional small crevasses until the Dust Bowl Drought).

After the 1930's drought, much of the glacier melted and has never recovered. Also after the Dust Bowl Drought, the glacier was thought to be more of a perpetual snowfield over a rock glacier until the surface snow completely (or almost completely) melted for the first time in the drought of 1994. During that year a large crevasse opened up in the talus, revealing glacial ice below. For now it appears the glacier survives and is protected under the talus. The surface snow and ice also completely melted (or at least almost completely melted) in 2003.

The Timpanogos Glacier in 1908

This is the Timpanogos Glacier as it appeared in the early 1900’s and before. Notice the crevasse in the photo. One trip report from 1912 makes the statement that the glacier had “a series of beautiful crevasses” to pass on route to the summit.

1908 Photo
Timpanogos Glacier as it appears in August 1908. BYU Photo archives; photographer unknown.

The Timpanogos Glacier in 1949

The Dust Bowl Drought of the 1930’s took a heavy toll on the Timpanogos Glacier, and much of the surface ice melted. The worst year of all was 1934, and the glacier shrunk drastically in just that one year. In most years, not many crevasses opened up after the 1930’s, and they were all small. The glacier took on the appearance of a perpetual snowfield, more than a true glacier.

The 1940’s provided a welcome relief from the drought and average or above average precipitation returned for several years. During the 1940’s several mid summer ski races were held, usually in late July.

July 30, 1949 Photo
A July 30, 1949 photo of the Timpanogos Glacier. During the 1940's, ski races were held on the glacier; Ray Stewart Photo

The Timpanogos "Glacier" in the 1950's-1980's

During the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, with alternating dry and wet years, the “glacier” waxed and waned, but always had the appearance of a perpetual snowfield. The early to mid 1980’s could be considered to be generally warm and wet. Heavy snowfall years regenerated parts of the snowfield, and it appeared that the perpetual snowfield might recover to its previous 1940’s size, but not to the glacier it was before the 1940’s.

Hoever, the late 1980’s produced a severe drought that took a toll on the "glacier", and by 1988 the glacier/snowfield was smaller than it had ever been to that date in recorded history. If you have any photographs from the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980's, please add them to the article.

The Timpanogos "Glacier" in 1993 and 1994

Some wet years were not enough to compensate for the drought, and although 1993 was a heavy snow year, the “perpetual” snowfield actually melted out completely (or close to completely) in the terribly dry and hot year of 1994. This was the first time in recorded history that the “perpetual” snowfield melted away. During that year a large crevasse opened up in the talus, revealing glacial ice below. For now it appears the glacier survives and is protected under the talus.

Timp Glacier from Emerald...
My photo of the Timpanogos "Glacier" from Emerald Lake on September 15, 1993

Addition by SP member hyperphil:

I was a crevasse witness. I was on TERT in 1993 [sic-actually 1994?] when the crevasse opened up. John Moellmer found it, and Paul Hart and I went up to check it out. It was eery--deep blue ice, 40 feet thick at least. The hole was DEEP. If you fell in, you'd be 30th century archaeological curiosity. I have a photo of it somewhere in my infernally huge collection of slides. Glen Meyer, the TERT director, got a glaciology team from Washingotn State to assay the ice. Their results were inconclusive as to whether it was truly glacial. The fact that the crevasse did not reappear in 2004 suggests it was moving, that is, glacial. Glacial or not, I NEVER walk down the middle of the snowfield any more.

Timpanogos Glacier Crevasse
A crevasse on the normally buried Timpanogos Glacier in 1994. The man in this photo is actually standing on some rocks that fell and got wedged in, the actual bottom was reported to be at least forty feet down. Glen Meyer, the director of the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team, took this photo, which is used with permission.

Timp Glacier crevasse 1994
A shot into the depths of the crevasse.Glen Meyer photo and used with permission.

The Timpanogos "Glacier" in 2003

Despite some wet years, the drought continues to take a toll on the now sometimes invisible “glacier”. Notice in this photo from September 2003, that the surface ice and perpetual snowfield has once again melted almost completely. When comparing the photos from almost 100 years ago, they are just a reminder of what the “glacier” used to be.

Emerald Lake and the Timp...
The Pluggers' photo of the Timpanogos "Glacier" on September 17, 2003

The Timpanogos "Glacier" Present and Future

No one knows what the future holds for this unique feature in Utah. Some recent winters have produced above normal snowfall, but it would take several years or decades of accumulation to bring the surface appearance of the snowfield/buried glacier back to where it was 100 years ago.

If there is still a glacier buried under the talus, it will probably remain invisible for most of the foreseeable year to come.

The Timp Glacier (top right)...
Gjagiels' Photo from August 9, 2005 in a very heavy snow year.


If anyone else can dig up any old photos of the Timp Glacier, it would be greatly appreciated. Any photos or scans of photos from the late 1800's through the 1950's would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if anyone has any information on the crevasse that opened up in 1994, please let me know.

If you have ever witnessed any type of crevasse on the Timp Glacier, please post any information that might be useful.

Also, if anyone has witnessed the surface snow and ice melting completely in any other years besides 1994 and 2003, please let me know.

It would be greatly appreciated.


Emerald Lake and the Timp...Timp Glacier from Emerald...Timpanogos Glacier Crevasse1908 PhotoTimpanogos Glacier Crevasse 1994July 30, 1949 PhotoTimp Glacier crevasse 1994


[ Post a Comment ]
Viewing: 21-38 of 38 « PREV 1 2 NEXT »

ScottRe: a side note


Hasn't voted

you have climbed so many summits in the Rockies

Actually only the sections between West Central Montana and southern Colorado, and no climbs in the Canadian Rockies. I should have said US Rockies, though I was only repeating the statement made by Michael Kelsey, author of the Climbers and Hikers Guide to the World's Mountains.

Posted Jun 2, 2006 3:53 pm

Scott WesemannImpressive!

Scott Wesemann

Hasn't voted

Very impressive article. I have been watching the Glacier for years now and I was really sad to see it completely dry in 2003. I really liked the old pictures and can only imagine what it would have been like to climb it in the early 1900's.
Posted Jul 3, 2006 4:23 pm

sopwith21Tragic, but not forever

Hasn't voted

The glacier's epitaph is a bit premature. I'm sorry that its not here to enjoy now, but as with everything else, it will return sooner or later. All creation is cyclical and as much as we would like to think otherwise, we humans don't have near the impact on it that we would dearly love to imagine.

The photo series is really amazing and a joy to study. Thanks for posting it.
Posted Jul 22, 2006 1:51 am



Voted 10/10

What a great summitpost. Very simply told in merely the photographs that greenhouse gases are changing our planet.
Posted Nov 11, 2006 1:27 pm

Bob SihlerAmazing, yet sad

Bob Sihler

Voted 10/10

I've seen similar evidence in Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies. The naysayers just piss me off when the evidence is so glaringly obvious. It's reasonable to debate what, if anything, to do, but denying it is just ignorant or dishonest.

I was on the "glacier" in 2002-- what a difference compared to that 2003 photo!
Posted Dec 29, 2006 12:09 am

ktnbsjust re-read


Hasn't voted

still very fascinating.
Posted Dec 29, 2006 6:16 am

hyperphilI was crevasse witness


Hasn't voted

I was on TERT in 1993 when the crevasse opened up. John Moellmer found it, and Paul Hart and I went up to check it out. It was eery--deep blue ice, 40 feet thick at least. The hole was DEEP. If you fell in, you'd be 30th century archaeological curiousity. I have a photo of it somewhere in my infernally huge collection of slides. Glen Meyer, the TERT director, got a glaciology team from Wash State to assay the ice. Their results were inconclusive as to whether it was truly glacial. The fact that the crevasse did not reappear in 2004 suggests it was moving, that is, glacial. Glacial or not, I NEVER walk down the middle of the snowfield any more.
Posted Feb 13, 2007 8:28 pm



Hasn't voted

I have added your comments to the article. If you ever find the photos feel free to post them to this article!
Posted Feb 13, 2007 9:44 pm

Sam DunfordRe: I was crevasse witness

Voted 10/10

I am glad that you posted this, and I would really like to know more. Exactly where on the glacier was the crevasse? How thick was the layer of rocks covering the ice? In what way were the results inconclusive? (i.e. in x it resembled glacial ice, but in y it did not) Would it be possible to find the photo and upload it?

Once again, thanks for posting the comment, and I would really like to know more :-)
Posted Mar 15, 2013 8:49 pm

Collin2My Dad's Resopnse


Hasn't voted

I sent my Dad this post and his reply may be interesting to some of you.


Very interesting series of dramatic photos of the Timp Glacier. When I was
young it was thought to be a snowfield rather than a glacier, though most
still called it a glacier. I used to slide down it on my buttocks and it
hurt, but I didn't haul skis up to the top of Timp.

In the 1960s, when I climbed to the top of Timp at least 3 or 4 times, there
were big boulders protruding up through the glacier and the snow melted
around these rocks so that there was a hole between the glacier and the
rocks that might be six or seven feet. We avoided as best we could any
collision with the rocks on our way sliding down. At least that's what I
recall then.

Excuse me for being lengthy. I know you just sent me photos to look at, but
I still wanted to say a few things in regard to global warming theories. To
me, son, I don't have a big argument as to whether the planet's overall
climate may have warmed up a tad or not, but rather, my big argument with
the doomsayers of global warming stems from the claims by some that our
global climate is shifting dramatically into a warming trend that is mostly
caused by MANKIND. I believe that's ridiculous. Over 70% of earth is
unpopulated ocean surface effected mostly by the SUN. The polar caps have
few men on them. The vast northern areas across Russia and Canada remain
mostly unpopulated. Nature, especially the SUN, is the bigger factor in any
climate change by far.

Humor me with a bit of remanicing. When I first got married, in 1971, the
news media was terrifying everyone for a season with claims that scientists
believed we were moving into a new ICE AGE. NEWSWEEK and NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC made these coming ICE AGE claims. Then, when the ice-sheets and
ice age didn't materialize by the 1980s, we suddenly were being hit with
frightening claims that an OZONE HOLE was evidence that mankind was
destroying our atmosphere by using aresoal deoderants and air conditioning,
despite the fact that the OZONE HOLE was over the antarctic continent where
no air conditioners were used and few humans were using deoderant spray cans
that would supposedly harm the ozone layer of our atmosphere. We were told
this terrible activity of mankind was causing global warming and that
government, especially global government, must step in and save humanity
from doom.

My point is that, within the normal warming and cooling of global climate
displayed across human history, we are not in an unuasually warm climactic
change that warrents the fear mongering the media and government have
carried out. There was a much warmer climactic time period during the
middle ages and mankind actually benefited from that warm era as plants grew
better and there was agricultural plenty for all, then a "small ice age"
came and went and we are apparently on the warming end of that small ice
age. Its natural, not man made.

There's a sensationalism rampant in today's media, including the movies,
that shows the earth destroyed by weather-catastrophes such as rising oceans
that swallow New York City as the polar ice caps quickly melt due to
man-made global warming. Sadly, if too many people believe the
sensationalistic Hollywood- and-Al Gore-prophecies of doom they will destroy
their own economies by enacting such treaties as the Kyoto Treaty that would
deeply cut energy production and consumption and thus destroy ecomomic
growth and even reduce economies impoverishing us all.

After all, most green house gases are not even manmade. Such a
government-demanded cut in energy production and consumption is a more real
danger to humanity than the global warming scares the UN puts forth with the
help of the Establishment-controlled media.

Collin, while the Timp glacier may be retreating or even completely melting
some glaciers are actually advancing at this time. If glaciers retreating
are proof of global warming, then glaciers advancing are proof of global
cooling. They can not both be true at the same time. Unfortunately I don't
have time to find the names of the advancing glaciers for your
investigation, son, but you might be able to search some out. But, here's a
quote from a recent book on the topic of global warming:

"Advancing glaciers can be found within miles of their melting brethren yet
the former watch in loneliness as overheated journalists flock to the more
cooperative ice. Similarly, the vaunted disappearing ice caps generally
aren't disappearing. Much melting activity began at the end of the Little
Ice Age and continues, often found in areas that are actually experiencing
decades long cooling." (page 76-77, "The Poliltically Incorrect Guide to
Global Warming and Environmentalism," by Christorpher C. Horner)

The snow cap on Mount Kilimanjaro is receding -- despite decades of cooling
in Kenya-- due to regional land use and atmospheric moisture changes.

Anyway, thanks for the pictures. It is amazing that so much has changed with
the TIMP Glacier.

Posted Jul 6, 2007 11:54 pm

TyeDyeTwinsNice Article


Voted 10/10

Very well done, nice to a see a local article on SP! Just hearing about the glacier completely melt out brings a tear to an indians eye. This precious beauty will one day (in my life time) become a distant memory. Too bad this type of story keeps occuring all over the world. Thanks for nothing GLOBAL COOKING!
Posted Apr 19, 2009 2:58 pm

asaking11Awesome Article


Voted 10/10

Nice write up Scott. My grandfather has a few pictures of when he climbed it in the 30's or 40's. I should see if I can find them.
Posted Jun 18, 2009 3:15 am

ScottRe: Awesome Article


Hasn't voted

That would be awesome if you could add them.
Posted Jun 18, 2009 11:54 pm

phattyGood Work


Hasn't voted

Great article! I will be making my 4th summit of Timp in September. Will document some photos and post them for ya!
Posted Aug 27, 2009 11:48 am

Sam DunfordCrevasse photos

Voted 10/10

I emailed the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team (TERT) and Glen Meyer sent me some photos of the crevasse. How do I add them to the article?
Posted Nov 20, 2013 12:25 pm

ScottRe: Crevasse photos


Hasn't voted


There is an "add image" tab on the left side of the article. It would be great if you could add them!
Posted Nov 20, 2013 12:51 pm

Sam DunfordRe: Crevasse photos

Voted 10/10

It isn't there.

However, in the images for this article I found a way to add one. Now all you have to do is add it to the article itself.
Here is the link to the image:


This article is definitely the definitive work on the Timpanogos Glacier. Without it, me and many other people would never have known that there is a real glacier. Doing more research, I found that there isn't really any information on the Timpanogos Glacier that isn't in this article. I am corresponding with scientists at the U of U about doing more research. Since it is the last glacier in the state of Utah, it certainly deserves more study. I will add the other images I have, too.

Also, you say "if there is still a glacier buried in the talus" I'm certain there is. If any significant portion of that ice melted, the contours of the talus would change greatly, and they haven't. I also found the same crevasse photo you already have in the BYU photo archives, and it says 1907, not 1908.

Thank you for making this article! I am happy to help by adding the photos!
Posted Nov 20, 2013 1:09 pm

KroazDuClarification of glacier status


Voted 8/10

Thanks for the clarification, I would not have suspected it was indeed a glacier, rather than a perpetual snowfield. I hope it won't disappear completely.
Posted Feb 11, 2015 12:18 am

Viewing: 21-38 of 38 « PREV 1 2 NEXT »