Connect with ancient and powerful forces of nature on Ascending Path’s iceberg sea kayaking adventure. No matter your level of experience, you can kayak the calm waters of a glacial lake, reaching icebergs within minutes after you launch. You’ll approach a massive glacier from the unique perspective of being nearly one with the water.
The journey begins on the Alaska Railroad Costal Classic Train (either from Anchorage or Girdwood), 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 van awaits to take your small group (7 or fewer) closer to the action. Ascending Path is one of two operators permitted to drive on these old gravel mining roads, ending at an overlook with incredible views of Spencer Lake and Spencer Glacier.
Glacial melt fills the lake along with larger icebergs and smaller chunks called “bergy bits” and “growlers.” This ice was formed roughly 7,000 ago, so you can literally touch history as you glide through these dark glacial waters. Your three 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!
Discover blue ice, hidden ice caves, crevasses, and deep blue pools of water - all with expert assistance from your Ascending Path kayaking guide. Learn about glaciology, the carving of the land by ice, and how this glacier has been affected by climate change.
The return trip across Spencer Lake gives time for further understanding of the ice and rugged landscape around you. Then hike back to the Spencer Whistle Stop to get to know more about the flora and fauna found near the glacier. At the Whistle Stop, you’ll either catch the Glacier Discovery Train for a relaxing return trip to Portage, Girdwood or Anchorage.
While no experience is necessary for this packed day, you may kayak up to two miles total, which does require some strenuous activity. Your group will enjoy this excursion even more if all members are used to a few hours of moderate activity daily. Ascending Path offers several guided hikes with varying lengths and difficulty. If you have young children or members who prefer a less strenuous activity, ask about their other options for getting into Alaska’s wilderness areas!
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 a go-to guiding company for many adventurers:
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 mountaineering guides
Ascending Path is the rare guiding company that employs expedition guides for day trips. Your sea kayaking tour 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.
A small group-to-guide ratio is a critical part of an Ascending Path trip. 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 turn a regular outing into a spectacular day. 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!