Landscapes - Robert Downie
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Helmcken Falls in Winter

If one had painted a winter scene at Helmcken falls early in the 20th century, it would have been dismissed as a work of fantasy. In an example of how recently the colonial exploration of a lot of British Columbia was undertaken, the waterfall was not known to exist outside of the indigenous communities until it was discovered during a land survey by Robert Henry Lee in 1913. Here the Murtle River plunges down a spectacular 141 m (or 463 ft) in a single drop. To put this in some perspective this is nearly three times as high as Niagara Falls with the winter 'ice cone' that grows around the base of the waterfall reaching similar heights to Niagara itself (51m or 165ft). The falls are home to the world’s hardest ice climbs, which ascend up the overhanging spray ice in the cavern behind the waterfall. The Murtle river drops over the western escarpment of the Murtle Pleatu which was formed from lava deposited as part of the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field 200,000 years ago. The falls themselves however did not form until the wide scale erosion and flooding that occurred in Canada after the massive glacial melting period at the end of the last ice age a mere 10,000 years ago. Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

misttreesfrozenforestmountainswaterriverrocksnowclimbingwaterfallfallsicevolcanicoverhangCanadaBCBritishColumbiaGrayWellsProvincialParkHelmckenMurtleNorthThompsonandClearwaterValleysPleatuRobertHenryLee