Thought we’d take a break from blogging about Japan and talk about our trip to Matanuska Glacier in Alaska. If you’re visiting Anchorage, consider renting a car and driving 2 hours out to Palmer (NE of Anchorage) to visit Matanuska Glacier. We went ice climbing with Mica Guides and it was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had in our years of travel! We’ve NEVER ice climbed before!
If you don’t want to drive, there are tours that provide transportation as well. The ones we considered was Tours Alaska. We ended up renting a car since we needed it for the rest of our trip so we drove to Palmer.
The meeting place for the ice climbing trip is right next to the entrance to the trail that leads up to the glacier which is located just past Mile 102 of the Glenn Highway. According to Mica Guides website, driving times from other locations are as follows:
- Anchorage: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
- Palmer: 1 1/2 hours
- Wasilla: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
- Valdez: 4 to 4 1/2 hours
- Glennallen: 2 hours
- Denali: 6 – 8 hours (via Wasilla)
- Seward: 5 – 6 hours
- Fairbanks: 7 – 8 hours (via Tok and Glenallen)
We had no prior ice climbing experience. The guides took very good care of us and taught us how to ice climb. By the end of the approximately 6 hour trip (~$130/person plus Glacier access fee), we were able to scale vertical walls of glacier and was climbing up and down a crevasse! The experience of learning how to ice climb and the breathtaking views of the Glacier was just out of this world!
For those who don’t ice climb, you can still visit the glacier and take a trekking trip with guides (I highly recommend it as the glacier can become a dangerous place if you don’t know where to step, where not to step and if you dont have the right gear on).
Here’s our rough itinerary of the day ice climbing with Mica Guides:
- 7:30AM: Leave Anchorage for 2 hour drive to Mica Guides in Palmer
- 9:45AM: Paperwork, meet guide and group, put on gear
- 10:30AM: Leave for the glacier aboard a van. It’s about a 10 minute drive if I remember correctly from the Mica Guides meeting point to the Glacier. You can also walk the trail if you’re not going on a tour or with a guide.
- 11:00AM: After a short hike to a couple of picnic tables, we stopped to put on our crampons.
- 11:00AM – 4:00PM-ish: Hiked on ice/glacier, learnt how to ice climb on mini bumps and small walls of ice, practice scaling vertical walls of ice, visited the “silver” lake, refilled our water bottle at a “glacial water fountain”, hiked to higher grounds with breathtaking scenery and climbed down and back up a crevasse (we couldn’t see the bottom of the crevasse… we basically climbed down as far as we felt comfortable and then climbed back up).
If you don’t feel comfortable doing any of the climbs during the trip, you can opt to not ice climb. Enough said… here are pictures! Rest of the pictures located here.
Following are pictures of us climbing the crevasse – our final climb & test of all that we’ve learnt that day. To think that we knew nothing about ice climbing just a mere few hours before this and was able to ice climb down and back up the crevasse is just amazing!
Do let us know if you go to Matanuska Glacier and tell us about your experience!
Let us know too if there are any specific places you want us to blog about (we might’ve been there and can share photos and our experiences!).