Part 5: Gulkana Glacier Part 1


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The Trip

Our trip to McLaren Lodge was long, just over 90 miles.  We passed through some great country with awesome views.  Our plan for the day was to go up the Gulkana Glacier on the south face of the Alaska Range.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Northern lights were churning and Roberto got a reasonable photo of the activity.

I had to do quite a bit of after-the-fact processing to get these results.  If doing this again, I would increase the ISO quite a bit.  This was a 30 second exposure and you can tell that due to the "slurring" of the stars (rather than being a point).  The location of the lights moved over time.  This shot was looking east from Dan's cabin.  Later in the evening, it started to get overcast and we were concerned that the weather might impact our riding the next day.

The next morning dawned with only some high clouds and plenty of sun so we headed out to Gulkana Glacier.  We headed north from the cabin into the valley at the base of the glacier.  The valley is visible just right of center in the photo above.  Our plan was to follow the glacier to the very end to an altitude of just over 6000'.  The Gulkana Glacier is one of many glaciers in the Alaska Range.

As we headed into the valley, the canyon walls got steep in a hurry.  The canyon was filled with virgin snow.

On our path up the canyon we passed this large ice fall.  This is a huge, imposing structure.

The path up the glacier was actually quite easy and culminated at a steep cliff overlooking the next glacier.  The lip was dangerous and a few extra steps would result in a one-way several thousand foot fall to the lower glacier.

Looking to the northwest from the overlook was an awesome view.

Looking to the east provided an equally impressive view.

Across the canyon there were massive cliffs.

There were large ice falls on the opposing canyon walls.

We traveled a short distance to the west that provided a higher overlook point.

We were approaching 7,000' of altitude at our second viewpoint.

The higher viewpoint provided an opportunity for vanity photos

The group descended from the upper viewpoint back into main valley.

On the east wall of the valley were massive cliffs with huge hanging walls of ice.  Note the cracks near the upper cornice that indicate that an avalanche will happen in the near future.

Note the lenticular clouds in the distance

To be continued in the next part.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.