Glacier Exploration by Helicopter
There are over 100, 000 glaciers in Alaska and that number is ever changing. It may leave you wondering what is the best way to explore and experience them. In our opinion, it’s taking to the sky and then landing right onto the ice, by helicopter.
Some glaciers are accessible by road and you can gear up and walk onto them with a guide. However, there can often be large crowds and difficult terrain to cross before getting to more prolific features and privacy. So, taking a helicopter saves you both mental and physical energy, and takes you far away from the busy front country of the glacier.
A Valley Glacier
The Matanuska Glacier is a popular valley glacier to visit. During the summer you can fly into Anchorage and be at the glacier by the afternoon. With a quick trip down the scenic Glenn Highway, it’s not too long before you’ll find yourself near mile marker 101. This is where you can find the hub for glacial exploration with the professional ice guides at MICA Guides.
At their base you can grab a fresh brew of coffee and head in to get geared up for the day. Getting an early start is a great way to get the most out of your trip. Plus, watching the Alaskan wilderness come to life with a fresh cup of coffee is a pretty excellent way to start the day.
Seclusion and Scenery
Once you’re ready, it’s just a few minutes down the road to the heli-pad. Your guides will help you in and your pilot will get you settled. Each window provides a full view to the spectacular sights so you don’t have to worry which seat might be the best. Each one is guaranteed to offer excellent scenic views.
So get your cameras ready, because once you take off it is an endless stream of awe-inspiring views. Flying over forests and mountains on your way to the glacier is a great way to spot wild animals too, like moose or bears. And soon you’ll be soaring over the ice and taking in the nearby canyons carved into the mountain sides.
From the helicopter you can grab some amazing photos of ice falls, crevasses, moulins, and much more as you fly over the glacier. Then, far back on this river of ice, your pilot will land onto the glacier. Once again, your guides will be there to help you unload and show you where to go.
Privacy in the Backcountry
Next, it’s about getting your gear on and finding cool features on your own private glacier experience. You can walk into ice caves or maybe even learn a bit about simple rope systems so you can safely get close to epic ice features. This is an advanced skills trek but is a great choice for anyone above the age of 12 and in good health for brisk walking and able to navigate uneven terrain.
Exploring the Matanuska this way is great for families and folks who enjoy photography. If you’re looking for a little more thrill you can always explore the idea of ice climbing. And if you find that you need way more time on the ice it might be worth checking out an overnight camping experience.
Taking It All In
After taking in a morning on the ice it’s nice to relax and eat some lunch, take in your surroundings. And then you can get right back to searching out the ever changing landscape of the glacier. Once you’ve had a full day on the ice it can be a huge relief to know that a helicopter is going to pick you up and fly you right back to base.
The cherry on top of this experience? Catching an Alaskan sunset from the passenger seat of the heli as the golden hour hits the Matanuska Valley. There is nothing else out there quite like it. So when it comes to exploring glaciers, it’s worth it to take that flight out, fully take in the scenery, and enjoy the moments you make out there.