Anchorage is a hub for adventure. This city is a place to touch down and gain access to a variety of recreation and exploration. Almost every road and dirt path way is lined with a few gems to add to any experience. An Anchorage ice climbing road trip is no different. This quick journey from metropolis to valley glacier has the opportunity to fill your trip with more than just the breath taking scenery.
Anchorage is where most of us touch down and get gear and plans together before immersing ourselves in Alaska’s offerings. Here you can grab any last minute items you may have forgotten and take in some creature comforts. Maybe you are already itching to stretch your legs and get in touch with your surroundings. Even in the city, you can get a taste of the wilderness.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail provides an 11 mile long winding pathway with backdrops of city views intermingled with the natural elements of Alaska. This trail winds through forested areas and gives coastal views to possible whale sightings. This route connects the coast to the downtown area. When downtown you can work over to the industrial section of Anchorage. This location provides the chance to see salmon running at Ship Creek and enjoy bird viewing.
Eagle River and Symphony Lakes
After leaving Anchorage, just 30 minutes west, you can drive into valleys that reach the Eagle River and Symphony Lakes trailhead. This trailhead acts as an access point to a variety of terrain that you can make a little, or a lot of. The Eagle River flows alongside pathways that open up to hanging valleys and hidden glaciers. As you climb into this alpine area you may even find your way to Eagle and Symphony lake. Both
People check out the side trails that stem off the hanging valley during a backpack to Eagle Lake.
are known for their stunning features and translucent colors. This is an area to have high adventures or maybe to just saunter along and take in the vistas.
The location is great for wild berries but also known for bears, so be bear aware while out. Established campgrounds are situated nearby and sit next to the Eagle River Nature Center. The center provides hiking trails and interpretive information as well. On the other hand, the trailhead to the lakes is within the Chugach State Park bounds which may require a permit for wilderness camping.
Hatcher Pass waits just a little over an hour from the Eagle River area. Twist along the side of the
Hatcher Pass provides beautiful day hikes as well as access to remote wilderness.
Little Susitna River as you drive into this historic mining area. The Independence Mine State Park sits center in the pass to provide the chance to experience old and current mining practices, firsthand. Many small trailheads surround this area as well as longer day hikes and access to wilderness areas.
Sport and traditional climbing are scattered between hikes and the rolling alpine hills. Some days you may even spot para gliders drifting on the thermal winds from the jagged peaks of the Talkeetna Range. This space is another favorable area for a variety of recreation choices.
Purinton Creek Trail
After winding through the impressive views of the Mat-Su Valley you will be eager to explore this natural abundance. Purinton Creek is an exceptional spot to pull off, stretch your legs, and take in the scenery. This site is located by mile marker 89 off the Glenn highway.
Within the bounds of this route you have the chance to careen through the wilderness on a 12.7 mile point-to-point trail. This route is open to ATV’s and motorized vehicles as well. With a steady climb in elevation you will hike through coniferous forest and into peak views of this breathtaking valley.
Some yards away from the road, is rock that is viable for climbing. This area has an assortment of routes, most already bolted, and sections for traditional climbing. Summits on these routes will showcase the immensity of the landscape through a bird’s eye view.
ATV and Ziplining
These activities are centrally located at the same base at Glacier View Adventures. This creates convenience to combo your adventures or fill in an afternoon. The ATV journey will take you high into the alpine, through mud and dirt. You’ll cruise by the Matanuska River, through fields and forest, and with possible wildlife sightings. Take your own ATV or experience a professional guide driving you in a UTV.
A view from the Nitro Zipline platform.
The zipline option features two different lines. One is the Nitro tour, over a quarter of a mile long and will having you reaching speeds of 30 to 40 mph. After taking a nice scenic walk on the forest floor you will be flying over tree tops with adrenaline.
The G2 line does have a bit more to offer with almost a half mile in length and speeds of 45 to 60 mph! Not only that but the 250 foot cliff that you promptly sail over after your feet leave the launching deck. This line gives transcendent views of the ice giant, the Matanuska Glacier and suspends you over the valley.
Up until this point, a story line of adventure has been forming. Acquiring a taste for what Alaska has to offer and getting acquainted with the topography will have you more than hungry to get your first swing at the ice. Ice climbing can be an outdoor enthusiasts dream.
Upon arrival you will promptly begin your journey to the ice in Glacier View. First, getting properly fitted with the gear you’ll need and acquainted with your guide, then taking a short drive to the toe of the glacier. For ice climbing you will start your journey by walking through carved and crushed rock on the ever changing moraine. Once you hit the white ice, it’s time to travel to the solitude of the back country on the glacier.
A climber ascends from a moulin on the glacier as a guide manages the rope. Photo Credit: David Crane
This area is away from the crowds and takes you to some of the MICA Guides favorite features. These routes are curated to provide the climbing experience you have been searching for. You may find yourself dropping into moulins or immersed in the deep blues of crevasses and curving ice walls. Feel the flow of your crampons biting into persistently thick ice walls as ice tools flick into vertical features, showering you in glacial shavings. Want to save energy and add to the experience? Check out these helicopter options.
The elements of the glacier are a moving and ever changing piece of art that you get to adventure. Pristine water flows through curvatures on the ice. The slight movements of the glacier become audible as ice sheets shift, echoing off the walls. You may even look into the depths of seemingly endless crevasses, showcasing hundreds of feet of extremely thick ice. The rhythmic movements and scenery will become hypnotic as you venture into this new world.
An Anchorage Ice Climbing Road Trip
A simple trip on paved highways from Anchorage to Glacier View can become monumental. This winding road is more than just awe-inspiring views. Lending attention to the moments of transition will supply you with a connection to the last frontier. These, you can only acquire through experience.