A photograph of a large avalanche sweeping across the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park that has drawn a lot of attention lately was taken 10 years ago.
The photograph was recently used by Glacier National Park and Federal Highway Administration officials during their public presentations on the Sun Road reconstruction project. The avalanche was cited as an example of the extreme hardship the alpine highway sees through the year.
Questions about the photograph soon reached the Hungry Horse News office. Some people noted that the scene was Haystack Creek, not Big Bend. Others wanted to know if it happened this year. Here’s the rest of the story.
Columbia Falls resident Corwyn Wyman, who took the picture, was biking up the Sun Road with Richard Garlough, also of Columbia Falls, on April 23, 2003, when they both stopped at Bird Woman Falls Overlook.
Wyman said he used a 35 mm throw-away “gift-type” camera to shoot the picture. He was working in Iraq when Glacier Park officials later asked for a copy of the photo, and someone else forwarded a digital copy to the Park.
Park officials had erected a sign there closing the road to further travel by hikers and bikers because of the avalanche danger — which was a good thing. As Wyman and Garlough looked across the large gully toward Haystack Creek, two large slides came roaring down from the Garden Wall and formed one large avalanche as it swept across the Sun Road.
“It sounded like a jet engine,” Garlough said at the time.
The Hungry Horse News got permission from Wyman to use the photograph on the front page of the May 1, 2003, paper. It is truly a rare photograph. While many slides of this size occur along the Sun Road, it’s rare that a photographer would be standing there at the opportune time to snap the picture.