For a trip that’s varied, exciting and exclusive to your group, go ultimate! Explore Spencer Glacier on an overnight trip exclusive to your small party of three to six. Take the Alaska Railroad to Spencer Lake, kayak across to the glacier, and enjoy hours exploring the blue ice before you settle in for the night. The next morning, after a hot breakfast and another short glacier hike, you are whisked backed to Girdwood in style: by helicopter, of course.
A whirlwind of experiences
The Ultimate Glacier Overnight is a continuous journey of amazing experiences in just 21 hours, but it’s so well organized that it doesn’t feel rushed. The overnight gives you flexibility to go at your group’s pace and to explore more of the glacier. The entire journey is guided by experienced and accommodating glacier guides who will help you understand Alaska’s natural history and will provide the info and tools you need to explore in style.
Your small group gathers at noon in Girdwood and then you’ll shuttle about ten miles to the Portage Rail Depot, where you’ll hop on board the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery Train.
Sit back and enjoy the scenery as the train passes through the Placer River Valley on its way to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. You’ll be served a catered deli lunch (turkey or vegetarian with gluten free options on request) that you can eat on board.
Once off the train, it’s about a mile drive to the edge of Lake Spencer, where you’ll gear up for a surreal kayak journey through dark glacial meltwaters, gliding past larger icebergs and small chunks of ice. The paddling isn’t strenuous, but you’ll be on the water 1 to 2 hours checking out the icebergs, taking photos and enjoying the immensity of Spencer Glacier on the approach.
Once you land, there’s a short walk to access the glacier. Put on helmets and crampons and your expert glacier guide will give you safety lessons and some practice. Together you’ll have several hours to explore the incredible features of the glacier: blue ice, crevasses, ice caves, and moulins. You’ll learn about Alaska’s natural history, glaciology, and will have plenty of time for photos along the way.
Your glacier camp
Arrive at camp by 6:30-7, where the Camp Manager will be waiting for you with snacks, hot drinks and a tour of camp facilities. The Everest Base Camp style tents are comfortable for your entire party, offering a spacious areas for gathering, a table for eating or playing cards, and window portals that let in natural light. You’ll also learn those important details about bathroom arrangements and boundaries of the camp (no wandering while camped on a glacier!)
Even though it’s evening, the midnight sun will keep you adventuring for some time yet. Go on a short walk before dinner or try ice climbing as an add-on. You may be surprised by your affinity for vertical adventure once you’re harnessed up with ice axe in hand.
Back at camp, enjoy dinner with an incredible panoramic view of the glacier, lake, and mountains. You’ll be served locally sourced meal, like Alaskan salmon with pasta, salad, dessert and hot drinks. Since this is an ultimate adventure, go all out and pre-order an Alaskan crab leg dinner for a sumptuous dining experience.
Finally, settle in to your cot, and cozy sleeping bag with pillow for something you may never do again: spending the night on a glacier. In the morning, awaken to hot coffee, cocoa or tea, hot oatmeal and a final short exploration of the glacier before your goodbye at 9 am.
Scenic helicopter ride
There’s nothing cooler than a grand exit, and the last part of your adventure delivers. Your helicopter will land right on the glacier and pick you up for a 30 minute scenic flight back to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Once you lift-off, you get a totally different perspective of the area, with an aerial view of the glacier, lake, mountains and river valley.
About Ascending Path
The owners of Ascending Path, Matt and Heather Szundy, live the business. (In fact, they met on an ascent of Denali!) Matt and Heather have spent their adult lives exploring, from Nepal and New Zealand to Antarctica and Alaska. Matt has guided for Hollywood film crews, acted as a stunt double for ice climbing films – and was even called on by the White House to guide President Obama on a 2015 trip to Exit Glacier.
Here are some of the reasons Ascending Path is the go-to guiding company for so many:
Ascending Path is one of three permitted operators at Spencer Whistle Stop in the Chugach National Forest. Ride the train to the Whistle Stop and then travel by van for closer access to the Spencer Glacier. Ascending Path nurtures relationships with clients and local partners – such as the Alyeska Resort, Alaska Railroad and Alpine Air – so that visitors can have convenient access to Alaska’s wilderness areas.
Accomplished and enthusiastic mountaineer guides
Ascending Path is the rare guiding company that employs expedition guides for day trips. Your adventure may be led by a guide who has summited Denali, kayaked on month-long ocean expeditions and/or climbed in the Himalaya mountains. Enthusiasm and love of the outdoors is something the Szundys look for in every guide they hire, so when you opt for an Ascending Path guided trip, you’re guaranteed a fascinating adventure filled with tons of interesting facts and maybe even some corny jokes.
Each hike offers a small group to guide ratio. Small groups have less impact on the environment and allow for maximum interaction between guests and guides. Having a fun, friendly and attentive guide can make a regular outing a spectacular day. Learn about glacier formation while sea kayaking or walking beside an iceberg-strewn lake. Discuss the uplift of coastal mountains, and then identify wildflowers. Strap into a harness and crampons to learn about glacier hiking while viewing crevasses as you explore an ancient ice field. The pros here not only guide, but they teach and inspire, and with very small ratios, you won’t be lost in a crowd. Each trip is customized to your skills and interests. No previous experience is necessary!