A story of ice and tundra...
What makes Alaska, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in particular, unique is the massive amount of glaciated terrain out here! Within the boundaries of the Park exists the nation’s largest glacial system, with glaciers covering 34.8% of the area of the Park.
This trip takes you deep into the Chugach Mountains where dramatic hanging glaciers are dwarfed by the highways of ice that criss-cross this unbelievable landscape! Green tundra valleys full of pink Fireweed and serene alpine lakes provide a stark contrast to this spectacular scenery. This Chugach Mountain Circuit backpacking hiking trip is definitely a guide favorite!
Total Elevation Gain/Loss
Private 2 Participant
Private 3-6 Participants
Group Trip Dates
July 26 – 30, 2024
Private Trips with custom dates are available. Schedule a call with our Expedition Coordinator to plan your Private Trip today!
The “Alaska Factor”
There is a reason Alaska has such a rugged allure for the lower 48 and beyond: it is still wild! This raw and untamed landscape offers our clients the opportunity to authentically pioneer new territory and have real adventures. Part of embracing the “Alaska Factor” is understanding that things may not always go as planned and expecting the unexpected. Water levels might rise, snow might fall, glaciers may shift and move – the landscape is dynamic and unpredictable is what makes Alaska, Alaska!
All of our trips are customized as they unfold and your guide will fluidly make decisions based on weather, logistics, and group dynamics to maximize each day’s experience. There can be quite a bit of variation, but on each trip we promise a big slice of the real Alaska and authentic adventure!
The trip begins with an incredibly scenic ~40min bush flight into the backcountry! Landing deep in the Chugach Mountains, you’ll immediately be surrounded by more glacial ice than you’ve ever seen before. You’ll aim to get onto one of these huge rivers of ice right away, putting your crampons to good use as you make your way toward a confluence of glaciers. Depending on how far you get today, you may be camping right on the ice!
Ice, ice baby! Waking up to views of pointy peaks with hanging glaciers dramatically cascading down their slopes, you’ll fuel up on a delicious breakfast prepared by your guide. Today you’ll continue exploring the glaciers as you move through this rock and ice wonderland. Incredible features like blue pools, crevasses and moulins may slow down travel with limitless photo opportunities. Tonight you’ll camp at one of the most epic locations you’ve ever laid your head – up close and personal to a calving glacier!
The rumble of crashing ice might wake you up this morning as the sun hits the ice of your personal glacier camp. Moving through some challenging moraine will take some time, but you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of a wide green valley opening up as you move along. The bright colors of the vegetation will shock your eyes which have become accustomed to the almost lunar landscape of the Chugach.
Today you will move through the tundra-filled valley, past huge boulders deposited by the ice of ages passed and toward a pristine alpine lake. Setting up camp early, you’ll have time to splash around the water or enjoy a light side-hike for even better views of the valley from higher up. A day of reveling in the wildflowers may also include a wildlife sighting – grizzly bears roam these valleys!
Making your way back to the airstrip where it all began, you’ll need to cross the glacial stream that cuts the valley in half. Your guide will find the widest and shallowest spot, often where the river braids into several channels, and help you get across. You’ll arrive at the strip at least an hour before the flight – just enough time to soak in the last impressions of your incredible adventure!
GET IN TOUCH
WITH AN EXPEDITION
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park is home to both black bears and grizzly bears and we are honored to share our home with such majestic animals. We treat the bears with respect and do our best to maintain their wild environment and nature. The bears out here are truly very wild and have very little contact with humans – this means that they are naturally afraid of us! Yes, even grizzlies! Bears do not hunt humans and our most common bear sighting is of a bear’s butt as they run away.
Although bear sightings may be exciting, we do our best to avoid close encounters with preventative measures at camp and while hiking that our guides will share with you. Just in case of unusually close encounters, our guides carry flare guns (to scare a bear away) and pepper spray (in case of an uncomfortably close meeting). It is very uncommon to have to use either.
If you want to, you can bring your own bear spray too, however, know that your guide has one and has been trained on how to use it. With 40 years of guiding in the Park, we have found that being bear aware, taking preventative measures and the flare gun and pepper spray to be sufficient mitigations.
Please refrain from bringing firearms with you on our trips. Not only does this make our other guests and guides uncomfortable, but they are also completely unnecessary for bear safety. We know that other areas of Alaska may recommend firearms for bear safety, but we specifically recommend against them.
We pride ourselves on cooking healthy and delicious meals even under the most adverse conditions! Your exact menu will depend on the trip, your guide, and the dietary preferences/restrictions you list in your Trip Application. No matter what kind of cook your guide is at home, all our guides are well-trained backcountry chefs and use time-tested recipes from our proprietary cookbook for their trips. We carry a plentiful and varied stock of ingredients and most meals are prepared from scratch (allowing for easy substitutions, additions or subtractions of ingredients). We onlyt use pre-packed freeze-dried meals on summit pushes on our mountaineering expeditions.
On our backpacking and basecamp trips, you can expect 3 meals a day, plus snacks of your choice. Breakfasts and dinners are usually hot meals and lunches are served cold. On mountaineering trips lunches consist of a variety of snacks as it can be hard to organize group meals while on a rope team.
We use a combination of fresh, dehydrated, and freeze-dried ingredients to make our delicious meals, however on longer backpacking and mountaineering trips your guides will use more freeze-dried foods than fresh foods to keep pack weights as low as possible. On our rafting trips, we cook full multi-course meals with fresh ingredients and enjoy hot and cold breakfasts, cold lunches and hot dinners.
Meals for most trips start with Lunch on the first day and end with Lunch on the last day. *
*If you are signed up for a Custom Trip Package with us, it may include more meals. Check with us if you’re not sure. Mountaineering trips also include meals in McCarthy before and after the backcountry expedition.
We understand that you may have luggage or things you don’t want to bring into the backcountry with you so we have a designated area at our headquarters where your guide will label and store your stuff while you’re out. This area is not locked, however, we have never had any issues with loss or damage. If you have a small item of great value that you are particularly nervous about, we may be able to store it in our office for you – just ask your guide.
On the Chitina River, Copper River, Source to Sea, or Custom Trips with different start and end points, any luggage you leave behind with us will be brought out to meet you at the end of the trip.