— Fan Glacier Basecamp Hiking – Itinerary —
Beautiful Day Hiking in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska!
DAY 1 – Your Alaska base-camp hiking adventure begins in the rustic bush town of McCarthy, at the Motherlode Powerhouse (the St. Elias Alpine Guides home base). Here, you’ll meet up with your guide, do a gear-shakedown to make sure you’re properly prepared for the upcoming trip, and ask any last-minute questions. Next, it’s off to the McCarthy airstrip to meet your bush pilot, and hop into the tiny bush plane for a beautiful flight south into the Chugach Mountains. Keep your camera ready to snap pictures of the mountains and glaciers as you fly over.
With a little bump, your pilot will expertly land the tiny plane on the backcountry airstrip. After unloading your packs, you and your guide will step back and watch as the plane lifts off into the air. When the buzz of the motor fades, take a minute to appreciate the remoteness of the Alaska backcountry.
You and your guide explore the area around the airstrip, and find a nice flat place to set up camp, with views in every direction. After setting up camp, it’s time to go hiking! You saw a river flowing north from the glacier, so you decide to head across the airstrip and check it out, looking for animal prints in the sand along the way.
DAY 2 – After a hearty dinner and good night’s sleep the night before, you wake up well rested to explore the Fan Glacier area. Since your legs are fresh, you decide to hike up high into the surrounding mountains, enjoying a birds-eye view of the area. As you look down towards the airstrip, you can barely make out your tent on the varied landscape. The views of the glaciers show the stripes, or “moraines” running down their length, and your guide gives you a description of glaciology and how moraines are formed. Taking a break for lunch, you have time to explore the mountains more before heading back down to camp for dinner.
DAY 3 – The morning of the third day breaks clear and cool, and you decide to get an “up close and personal” view of the glacier you were observing yesterday from above. After a delicious breakfast, you don your day packs, and head west, out to an unnamed glacier. At the glacier’s edge, the ice is cracking and breaking off, providing a beautiful backdrop for lunch. If it’s sunny, you might even see some activity as the glacier “calves” off pieces of ice. For the adventurous folks, your guide may even find a way to access the glacier, and you can don your crampons and explore the ice on foot. As you start to get hungry for dinner, it’s time for a quick snack before you head back to camp for your final night out at the Fan Glacier.
DAY 4 – Waking up in the morning, you realize this is your last day exploring the Chugach Mountains, and you’re not quite ready to go. Fortunately, your flight is not until late afternoon, so you still have all day to hike. You pack up camp in the morning, leave a duffel at the airstrip, and head out to explore some of the local alpine lakes. The Fan Glacier is known for its beautiful ponds of crystal clear water. On a still day, photographers can capture beautiful reflections in the still water. If it’s a warm day (and you’re feeling adventurous), you may even decide to take a dip in the chilly water to cool off! While exploring these beautiful alpine lakes, take a few minutes to appreciate the beautiful wildflowers that grow in this rugged alpine valley.
As you head back to the airstrip, you hear the buzz of the bush plane, and you realize that civilization is not far off. As the tiny plane takes off over the mountains and glaciers, you dream of a hot shower and delicious dinner. You also think back fondly on your last four days in the Chugach Mountains, and look forward to returning again.
- Guiding and instruction from skilled professionals. Our personable guides have extensive experience and local knowledge, as well as medical and rescue training.
- Bush plane flights to or from the backcountry.
- Delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while in the backcountry, including hot and delicious meals morning and evening, and plenty of trail snacks and lunch food for mid-day nourishment.
- Group equipment: stoves, pots, tents, fuel, etc.
- Technical gear: crampons, ice axes (if needed for route)
All you need to bring is your personal gear. You can find a detailed list of the backpacking gear that we recommend you bring on our base-camp hiking equipment list.
If you would like us to arrange your transportation to McCarthy/Kennecott and/or lodging while in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, we offer this as a free service to our multi-day clients. Please email or give us a call to discuss the details.
“A fantastic experience — wild Alaska at its best!”
Click on the markers below to view important points along your trip. Check out that zoom feature!