Travel Tip – Getting to/from McCarthy

Compared to locations like Anchorage or Fairbanks, McCarthy is a little off the beaten path (and that’s why we like it)! So we thought it would be helpful to create a brief summary of the options for traveling to McCarthy. When making your travel plans, don’t hesitate to give us a call or email us questions about the best way to incorporate McCarthy into your Alaska trip!

mountain river road campsiteOption 1: Drive

  • This option is best for small groups of people who will be spending only a few days in McCarthy, and don’t mind taking 2+ hours to drive the 60 mile gravel road from Chitina to McCarthy. This is the best option if you have your own car, and there are also a few rental places in Anchorage that allow their vehicles to go on the road.

Option 2: Fly

  • If driving all the way to McCarthy from Anchorage doesn’t sound like your thing, flying is a great option! Wrangell Mountain Air offers three daily flights from Chitina (located at the edge of the park). Chitina is a 5 hour drive from Anchorage, and about 2 hours from Valdez, and with free parking at the airport, this option eliminates the gravel drive altogether.
  • For those who’d like to come to McCarthy solely by air, you can charter a flight from Anchorage with Wrangell Mountain Air. They can work around your schedule, have professional and personable pilots, and we personally recommend them for any of your bush flying needs.
  • The last option for flying into McCarthy is to hop on the mail plane that comes in on Mondays and Thursdays. This plane is operated by Copper Valley Air (and Reeve Air out of Anchorage). With a quick stop in Glennallen, this trip only takes 2.5 hours (from Anchorage to McCarthy), and is quite the deal at $275 per person!

Option 3: Shuttle

  • The Kennicott Shuttle offers daily van service from Glennallen to McCarthy in the morning, and then back again in the late afternoon, and is perfect for those who are staying in Glennallen, but would like to do an afternoon Kennecott Mill Tour.
  • Wrangell-St. Elias Tours offers morning-departing van shuttles between Anchorage, McCarthy, and Valdez 5 days a week during the summer season. This option is great if you’re spending several days in McCarthy and don’t want to leave a rental car sitting…

As you ponder the options, don’t hesitate to give us a call to discuss which option is best for you! For even more detailed information on the options, check out the Transportation page of our website!

Posted in Tech Tips

Returning Client Spotlight – Brian and River

As we look back on the 2016 summer season, we were pleased to see so many familiar faces on our backcountry trips this year. While it’s not uncommon for the Wrangells to leave you thirsting for more, this year we had an especially high number of folks on their second, third, or even fourth visits! We think that we run a great program in an amazing place, but it’s great to see that our clients think so too – they found something good and kept on coming back! This winter, we’re going to take some time to spotlight our returning clients.

alaska backcountry hiking

To kick off this series, there’s no one better to start with than Brian and River!

mountain hikingBrian and River are in the lead for the “highest consecutive number of backpacking trips with SEAG” award. And the prize? Exclusive bragging rights of course! Brian is from Boulder, CO, and River is from Marin, CA, but they meet up in the Wrangells each year for a combination vacation and business trip! They love Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and use the yearly backpacking trip to continue to explore new Alaska territory, push their personal boundaries, and step “outside the box” to inspire creative business thinking in the remote wilderness environment. I agree with you boys – I think the mountains are the best business inspiration there is! To stretch out those weary backpacking muscles, Brian and River make sure to do one or two mountain yoga sessions with their guide Jason on every trip!

So if you’re interested in Brian and River’s adventures in the Wrangells, check out this summary, written by guide Jason, who’s joined them for every trip:

mountain wilderness backpacking2013: Fan Glacier Basecamp: 4 days of hiking and exploring in their “Intro to the Wrangell-St. Elias” trip. They were absolutely hooked during this trip and we already planned their return trip before the trip was over!

2014: Allie’s Valley to Bremner Mine: 2 days at Allie’s Valley hiking and exploring, and then 4 days backpacking to the Bremner airstrip. Brian tore his calf only a week or two before the trip so we had to assess his ability to complete the trip while out in the wilderness. He loves our park so much that he would not be deterred, and gritted it out. He is one tough guy to do that in such difficult and intense terrain!

alaska iceberg paddle2015: High Pass Odyssey: This trip was done in reverse order in 5 days. Then we relaxed with 2 days of kayaking around the icebergs in Nizina Lake. Our day of hiking into Nizina was a grueling 11 hour day that ended in hiking the last hour in the dark by headlamp – talk about tough! The boys were finding their limits and pushing right past them. In the end, it was all worth it to be greeted by guide Richard at our Nizina endpoint with coolers full of beer, salmon and fresh food!

2016: Journey to Oz+ : We were supposed to go to the north part of the park just southwest of the town of Nabesna to explore new territory. However, we were hit with several days of horrendous weather in the area that prevented us from flying in. So in pure Wrangell style, we quickly improvised and formulated a “plan B”. The boys had never done this route before and in the end they both thought it was the most spectacular scenery of all of our trips to date! As previously scheduled, River was picked up by the pilots partway through the trip to return home after 7 days of backpacking. Brian and I continued up to Packsaddle Island and then back to McCarthy through Donoho Basin for an extended 3 days of backpacking. The terrain was intense and the days were long, but the weather and scenery were spectacular! Returning to town on foot at the end of our 10 alaska iceberg backpackingday journey was bittersweet. Although we both looked forward to beers and a warm bed, we still longed for the simplicity of living in the remote and rugged Wrangell wilderness. This place really changes you forever! Brian and River are already planning their next epic adventure of kayaking and backpacking at Icy Bay next summer!

We’re excited to plan it with you too! Thanks for all the great memories, and we’re looking forward to more in the future!

wrangell mountain hiking

Posted in Spotlight on Adventure

Happy Holidays 2016!

Whether you’re exchanging gifts, enjoying a meal with friends, or out on an exciting adventure, we wish you all the best this holiday season!

Happy holidays from St. Elias Alpine Guides!

Please enjoy this fun video of our senior guides (Jason, Scott, Anya, Bryan, and Sarah) showing off their dance moves while participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange!

Posted in Uncategorized

Guide Spotlight – Bryan Kerr

backpack mountain guideIf you’re walking across the Root Glacier and see a Cleveland Browns helmet off in the distance, you might be spotting SEAG’s own Bryan Kerr. Originally hailing from Ohio, Bryan was introduced to rock climbing while in college, and quickly took off with the sport. Enjoying the mental and physical challenges it provides, he began to expand his climbing experience from the world of vertical rock to ice and alpine climbing. Since then, he’s also taken up skiing, and spends his winters in Park City, Utah, as a “professional” ski bum.

A die-hard fan of all Cleveland sports, Bryan shows his colors with his climbing helmet, painted to match that of the Browns, and he receives weekly sympathetic looks from his co-workers when the NFL season starts in the fall.

Since he started working for SEAG, Bryan has been fascinated by the mountains of Alaska and the adventure that they provide. He can be seen guiding glacier hiking and ice climbing trips out on the local Root Glacier, and also can be found in the backcountry, where he can share his love of backpacking and mountaineering with you. Whether Bryan guides you across the ice, snow, or alpine tundra, he’s sure to fascinate you with his knowledge, stories, and sense of humor. When he’s not out exploring his local mountains, Bryan can be found scarfing down impressive amounts of food, tinkering with gear, and rooting for the Cleveland Browns.

So next time you’re in McCarthy, keep an eye out for that orange helmet – maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have Bryan as your guide!

Posted in Guide Spotlights

Polar Bear Plunge – Tips and Suggestions

If alaska polar bear plungeyou’ve had the pleasure of joining us for a hike or climb out on the glacier, undoubtedly you walked past some of the stunning pools of crystal clear blue water on the ice. Hovering right at 32 degrees (or 0 degrees, for our friends across the pond), these blue pools are as cold as they look.

glacier swimming alaskaAgainst our better judgement, we are always finding excuses to take a glacial dip, with adventurous travelers joining in for the fun. Over the years we’ve discovered a few suggestions to help make your icy swim a little more – ummm – comfortable. Check ‘em out:

  • Bring an extra pair of wool socks, and wear these on the swim. This is primarily for looks (nothing looks better than wearing wool socks with your bathing suit). A secondary benefit is that these socks protect your feet from the sharp glacier ice as you climb back out of the pool.
  • Go quickly. If you give yourself time to back out, you’ll never jump in. Before you get the chance to think about it, jump in. Remember – the sooner you jump in, the sooner you can get back out.
  • Don’t forget to breathe – the cold water can take your breath away. Stay calm, and take a nice slow breath. Don’t forget to smile for the cameras!
  • Bring a small towel. Microfiber ones work great, but even a small hand towel will do the trick. You’ll feel much warmer as soon as you get out of the water and dry off a bit.
  • And lastly, make sure you have someone taking pictures or a video – you don’t want to jump back in again for the camera!

swimming on alaska glacier

Posted in Tech Tips