Champ de Glace

by wjw on October 29, 2008

This glacier feeds three different oceans, the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Arctic.

This is one of the three places on earth that have a three-way continental divide.

I don’t know where the other two are.

David W. Goldman October 29, 2008 at 6:16 am

This is one of the three places on earth that have a three-way continental divide.

Perhaps four, including yours…

Minnesota: “The Giants Range, a 400- foot eroded granite highland feature, running east-west for 50 miles in the northern part of the state, causes Minnesota’s waters to divide three ways. This rare three-way continental divide is located just north of the town of Hibbing.”

Pennsylvania: “The tiny town of Gold, PA is near a three-way continental divide for Eastern North America. Flowing north, the Genesee River runs to Lake Ontario and eventually the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Newfoundland. Pine Creek flows east through Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, eventually joining the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The Allegheny River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River, which in turn contributes the greatest volume of water to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.”

Switzerland: “The Lunghin Pass above Maloja is the site of a rare three-way continental divide: the Inn joins the Danube and flows into the Black Sea, the Julia joins the Rhine on its journey to the North Sea and the Maira joins the Po and flows into the Mediterranean.”

Rebecca S. October 29, 2008 at 6:42 am

Perhaps there are more than three three-way continental divides. A decade or so ago we visited Glacier National Park in Montana, and I remembered trail guides notes and even a sign about a three-watershed point there, in the high country along a hiking trail. I checked and found this excerpt from the National Park Service site/brochure on the Continental Divide:

“In Glacier National Park, there is actually a triple divide because waters potentially can flow into three oceans. The creeks and streams in the southeast section of the park feed into the Birch and Marias Rivers, then the Missouri and the Mississippi and empty into the Gulf of Mexico. The water in the northeast section feeds into the St. Mary River that joins the Saskatchewan River Basin. From there, some of the water flows into Lake Winnipeg, then into the Nelson River which drains into the Hudson Bay. All water west of the divide feeds into the Flathead River, which then flows through Flathead Lake and empties into the Clark Fork which joins the Columbia River to the Pacific.” This doesn’t ID a particular spot on which you can stand and potentially pee into the watersheds of three oceans, but I think there is such a spot, and if I weren’t so sleepy I’d keep looking.

Phiala October 29, 2008 at 10:41 am

I live in Pennsylvania, but I think the PA one is cheating: They flow in different directions, and to different minor bodies of water, but it’s all the Atlantic.

Drew October 30, 2008 at 1:33 am

That’s the Athabasca Glacier.

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