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Pursuit piloting tour at Columbia Icefield that uses smaller vehicles

Company whose Ice Explorer bus rolled down embankment killing three, offering new Columbia Ice Field tours in smaller vehicles with roll-over protection structures.
Starting June 3, Pursuit will pilot the Ice Odyssey experience at the Columbia Icefield. | Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection’s Facebook

Pursuit will pilot the Ice Odyssey experience at the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park beginning June 3.

The Ice Odyssey is a two-hour tour for groups of 14 people or less that uses small all-terrain explorers to guide small groups to the Athabasca Glacier.

“The groups will travel in SHERP vehicles which are a futuristic, rover-like ride built to take on the planet’s toughest terrain,” Pursuit stated in an email to the Fitzhugh.

“The new, intimate experience will have guests disembark at exclusive glacier sites and bring guests farther onto the glacier. On the Odyssey, guest will learn about glaciology, the icefield’s role in WWII and partnerships with NASA.”

Pursuit will continue to offer the Ice Explorer Adventure, which uses larger all-terrain buses, as the Ice Odyssey is simply an additional offering targeted toward a different clientele.

In 2020, an Ice Explorer bus rolled down a moraine embankment, killing three people and injuring 24.

The company was fined $475,000 under Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act, but no criminal charges were laid.

The tour was relaunched a year later with seatbelts added to the buses.

According to Pursuit, the new SHERP vehicles for the Ice Odyssey are “built with a certified ISO 3471 Roll-Over Protection Structure (ROPS) to safeguard the vehicle from heavy damage and to avoid injuries.”

The new tour aims to provide a more in-depth and personal experience while being more sustainable and reducing the impact on the glacier.

“The smaller vehicles have ultra-low-pressure tires minimizes its environmental footprint and are highly fuel efficient,” Pursuit stated.

In collaboration with Parks Canada, Pursuit hired an environmental consultant with a master’s degree in the movement of ice to review and author the Basic Impact Assessment.

“The findings of the assessment were that the impact of the existing and new tour are negligible,” the company stated.

“Pursuit is committed to taking a two-pronged approach at continuing to make the business more sustainably focused, both with new and original tours, all operating in same confines that it has over the past 20 years.”

Pursuit is also looking at the electrification of the current Ice Explorers and determining the viability of converting the fleet.

Peter Shokeir

About the Author: Peter Shokeir

Peter Shokeir is the publisher and editor of the Jasper Fitzhugh. He has written and edited for numerous publications in Alberta.
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