Exit Glacier Tour

May 21st, 2008

Sunset from Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier at duskEnd of the plowed road to Exit Galcier

Exit Glacier tourist facility still buriedOur goal today was to tour up along the side of Exit Glacier up to the Harding Icefield, and then hopefully climb up one of the small peaks next to the glacier to get a better view. The temperature was getting up into the 60s in the day with the clear skies and high pressure system we were in so we knew we had to get an early start before the sun got on the snow and wetslides started to become a problem. Every mountain we’d seen in the Chugach (which is a lot) We lost the trail in the snow, and bushwhackedwas covered in wetslides - some of them quite large - so we knew the danger was real. The trick is just to get up early while everything is still frozen’ standard spring skiing procedure. The problem is… the sun comes up at like 5AM. So we got up early and headed out, but between the sun coming up so early and the time it took to muster our gear and go in the road 2 miles the snow was already in really bad shape when we got to the glacier. We also took the wrong path up the side of it and ended up doing some gnarly bushwhacking, slowing out progress even more. We pushed on up the mountain anyway, determining to just stick to low angle and low consequence slopes and giving up hope of climbing a peak.

Me up on the impressive Harding IcefieldThe tour up the blindingly bright snowfields was beautiful and another good hard day of work for my aching legs (plus we got buzzed by a Coast Guard C-130). We finally hit the Harding Icefield by about 1PM, 3000′ from the valley floor. There was actually a little cabin up there I’d like to base a hut trip out of in the future. Beautiful Exit GlacierWe put some fuel in the tank, snapped pictures and then started the game of “get out of the mountains alive”. We’d already seen some natural wetslides rip out and were feeling a little uncomfortable with the situation, but as with the plan we stuck to safe slopes and enjoyed a nice slushy ski out. Some of the faces we were on did rip out, but they were small and slow like more wetslides and we stayed safe. It was actually kind of fun and we started to set them off on purpose. The only hitch in our descent was poor route finding on the lower tree-covered slope. We got sort of cliffed out, and had to do some difficult down climbing in ski boots.

Me, dwarfed by the glacier and Harding Icefield

The Harding IcefieldDrew by some small Exit seracs

Buzzed by a Coast Guard C-130Some nice May turns in Alaska

Wetslides!We had to bushwhack and cliffwhackSkiing home through the trees

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One Response to “Exit Glacier Tour”

  1. Evan this blog looks great man and I am really enjoying reading about your trip. All the pictures really help to set the scene. Peace.

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