Terminus: Surprise Glacier by Andrea Gaffney

a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.
A photo in shades of blue of the scant remains of a mountain glacier near a jagged ridge. Three different fern leaves in silhouette next to the photo.
"Hiking up to Surprise glacier with a large format pinhole camera was hard work. The name of the glacier says it all. Surpise! I wasn't expecting to crawl over talus for two miles, only to find the melting, disjointed remnants of a glacier. Surprise, indeed. As we scrambled across the boulders and scree on the approach, I began to understand the path upon which the glacier had retreated. Climbing up over the terminus gave me the first glimpse of the glacier because it sits in an elevated basin surrounded by peaks. Surprise! It's barely there. I've never been so struck by the impact of climate change as I was standing there looking at the melting remainders of this glacier. This is the view that is captured in the pinhole photograph. The artwork is a cyanotype print. A 4x5 pinhole photograph was taken from the terminus of Surprise Glacier on September 7, 2022. The ferns are species found along the Royal Basin watershed to the terminus of the glacier to represent the different microclimates. A digital negative of the pinhole photograph was created to enlarge the image for a contact print. The ferns were directly contact-printed onto the paper. As the print is exposed to light and air, it will change tone and appearance over a long time, in much the same way that the glacier is changing due to climate change." -Andrea Gaffney
a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.

Meet the artist: Andrea Gaffney

Andrea is a landscape and architecture photographer. She draws upon her previous career as a landscape architect and urban designer to compose germane, beautiful images about resilience, restoration, and reconciliation. As a state regulator, she previously worked on sea level rise adaptation projects for the public shoreline of the San Francisco Bay Area, which provided her with a deep understanding of the environmental impacts of climate change. Her love for the outdoors and the environment prompted her to participate in the Terminus Project using analog photographic processes that capture a moment in the ever-changing landscape.

You can see more from Andrea, including a photo journal of her trip to Surprise Glacier, at her website here, and her Instagram here.

A mountain glacier below a jagged ridge, viewed from above.
Surprise Glacier in 2010

NPS/J. Burger

More about Surprise Glacier

A small, low angle remnant glacier in Surprise Basin. There are no references to who or how it was named, but perhaps it is due to its hidden location in Upper Royal Basin. Climbers visiting the rugged peaks of the Needles traverse this glacier during their ascents. Its meltwaters feed into the Dungeness River, which flows north and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca outside the town of Sequim.

a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.

Last updated: May 16, 2023

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