Ride the rails, kayak though an iceberg-strewn lake and hike on Spencer Glacier, all in one trip! This awe-inspiring outing packs several exciting elements into one satisfying day. The journey begins on the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery Train (either from Anchorage or Portage), where you’ll ride through areas inaccessible to public vehicles, with incredible views out every window. Disembark at the Spencer Whistle Stop, where an Ascending Path bus awaits to take your small group (5 or fewer per guide) closer to the action.
Glacial melt fills the lake along with larger icebergs and smaller chunks called “bergy bits” and “growlers.” This ice was formed at least 7,000 years ago, so you can literally touch history as you glide through these dark glacial waters. Your one-hour tandem kayak journey is a surreal experience as you approach the face of the glacier and begin to understand its majesty – and its immense size. You’ll have plenty of chances to take photos as the glacier comes closer and closer into your viewfinder.
Once across the lake, you’ll gear up with crampons and helmets for a 2-hour hiking exploration of Spencer Glacier itself. Discover blue ice, hidden ice caves, crevasses, and vivid deep blue pools of water - all with expert assistance from your Ascending Path guide. Learn about glaciology, the carving of the land by ice, and how this glacier has been affected by climate change. Ask about an upgrade to a 6pm helicopter pick-up if you want to add a flying adventure to this trip!
Times: 10 hours starting daily at 9am or Noon. Departs from Alaska Railroad Anchorage Depot at 9am or from Ascending Path near Hotel Alyeska at noon (May 25 – Sept 15).
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 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, worked in Antarctica and/or climbed in the Himalayas. 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.
This excursion has a maximum of five guests to one guide. Small groups are better risk management, 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 ice formations while kayaking and hiking the five minutes from the boats to the toe of the glacier. Strap on the crampons and learn to 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!