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Mendenhall Glacier Hike

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Description

Tour Update: The Mendenhall Glacier is receding on a daily basis causing drastic changes to the surface of the glacier. Our site for trekking on the glacier with crampons has continued to get steeper and more challenging each summer. These changes, along with rising lake levels, have left us with very limited safe areas to explore on the ice. For this reason, it is not safe to walk on the glacier. This trip will spend time exploring the glacier up close and hiking around the edges of it safely from the bedrock. The edge of the glacier has some of the most stunning features you will find; this is where ice formations, tunnels, and tubes tend to form creating those beautiful blue colors. These features are never guaranteed but do form throughout the summer. Whether or not conditions present the opportunity to walk on the glacier in addition to hiking by trail through the Tongass National Forest, this entire journey is top-notch from start to finish.


Explore Mendenhall Glacier from a much closer perspective on the Mendenhall Glacier Trek Tour. This full-day adventure is not for everyone, but geared towards those looking for a challenge and ready to hike to get there. Gaining elevation from the trailhead, temperate rainforest eventually gives way to alpine terrain. Spend the next hour or so near the glacier, following your guide past deep blue melt streams, emerald pools and deep crevasses that can be seen from the glaciers edge. The scale of these flowing glaciers becomes evident as you zig-zag along in what may feel like a different world. A truly awe-inspiring trip for those ready for it.

Pick-up from the cruise docks and many Juneau hotels is included and from there a short ride over to Mendenhall Valley and the West Glacier Trailhead. Here it's time to gear up, and a backpack containing all your necessary glacier gear is provided for you (about 10-15 lbs.). Hit the trail, warming up on the first mile which is well maintained and relatively flat. It doesn't take long to shift gears - now you're in the Alaskan backcountry, and the cruise ship seems miles away. After the first mile, the trail gains elevation and the next 2.5 miles are characterized by uneven terrain, multiple steep pitches, rock scrambling, route finding and may include slippery bedrock. But the hard work pays off when the trail opens up to expose a glorious view of Mendenhall Glacier, which leads into the next part of this adventure.

Traverse across the last patch of bedrock, making your way over to the edge of the icefield. You'll spend the next part journey next to the ice, exploring the unique intricacies of this frozen expanse. If time permits, we may have an opportunity to explore nearby ice features; the resulting photos from this trip may seem photoshopped but these colors are real! Eventually, we'll make the return trip back to the trailhead and drop-off locations in Juneau.

If you're concerned with slowing down the group or if you have younger children, you may consider taking this as a private trip. Or, for less hiking, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Paddle & Trek.


What's Included

You will be provided with all necessary safety gear, professional guide, backpack, helmet, harness, ice axe or trekking pole, crampons, rain gear (jacket/pants), hearty snack/bottled water, and roundtrip van transportation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What about restroom facilities along the way?
You'll have a chance at the gear base to use the restroom but after that we will be entering the great outdoors. We recommend all guests follow 'Leave No Trace Principles' and should the need arise, we request packing all trash from the trip including toilet paper. If this is of concern for you, we recommend bringing toilet paper and a ziploc bag for easy packing.
How many guests are on this tour?
There can be up to 12 participants on this trip and there is a minimum of 2 guests for the trip to operate. With advanced notice we can accommodate larger groups on private tours.
What can I do to prepare physically for this trip?
Cardiovascular training is a must. You will be hiking approximately 8 miles roundtrip for 7+ hours on uneven terrain. Cardiovascular training will increase your endurance making for a more pleasant experience on the trail. In addition, get yourself out on a hike and choose trails that are uneven. We oftentimes get people who are in good physical condition (i.e. train at the gym daily, run several times a week), but struggle on the uneven surface because they are used to exercising on flat ground, which does not require much balancing and much use of the small muscles in the legs and ankles.
What if our cruise ship's schedule is canceled or delayed?
We will try our best to work with you to reschedule the tour to a later time. If that is not a possibility or your ship doesn't make it into port, then you will receive a refund, less any non-refundable fees.
Are we guaranteed to see ice caves?
We don't guarantee ice cave visits. Because the caves are dynamic and change rapidly, visits are condition-dependent. Your guides will ultimately make the call whether or not it is safe to enter an ice cave.
What's the weather like on the glacier? Is it cold?
Juneau temperatures during the summer are typically between 50 and 65 degrees, with an average of 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). The temperature on the glacier is about 5 degrees cooler, but can feel up to 15 degrees cooler due to katabatic winds (cold downslope winds coming down the glacier). Please bring layers of clothing including a warm hat and gloves.
Will the tour still operate if it's raining?
Because much of SE Alaska is a rainforest, these Juneau tours do operate rain or shine. Rain jackets and pants are provided on this trip. If weather conditions are unsafe, the trip will be canceled and we will provide a refund (minus non-refundable fees).

Quick Facts

Juneau

6h 00min

The minimum age for participants is 10 years old.

Cancel up to 14-days before the tour for a refund. No refund is available if canceled within 14-days of the tour. If for any reason your tour is canceled, or if your cruise ship’s schedule changes, you will receive a refund. Refunds do not include any non-refundable fees.

$230

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