This was, by far, my favorite part of the Alaska trip. Boy Kyle and I drove down to Seward (about 2 hours away) early Monday morning. The drive is the most beautiful drive I have ever experienced. Before this trip, driving to Key West held the number 1 spot – not anymore. When driving on the Seward Highway, you have mountains on literally every side of you – N, E, S, and W. I was tired but did not even want to nap (I did cave and took a 20 minute power nap) because that means I’d miss the view. Okay, enough about the view – let’s get down to the ice climbing already.
Around 10am a group of 8 – counting our guides Josh and Steve – made our way to Kenai Fjords National Park. The 15 minute drive included us learning a little bit about the glacier (it has receded greatly in the past 100 or so years) and our guides. Once we arrived, we were taught how to use hiking poles (this is a new thing to a Floridian – flat lands don’t really warrant using these) and off we went! The hike was about 2 miles to the glacier. During this time, we stopped 3 times and learned about the flora and fauna of the surrounding mountain, while being surrounded by breathtaking views. Then, we turned a corner, and there it was – Exit Glacier. I turned into giddy Anna again, getting really excited to see my 2nd glacier in person. Our guides pointed out a group of ice climbers already out there and they looked like ants. I could not believe that was soon to be us.
Well, we finally made it to the foot of the glacier. My mouth was still dropped as I attempted to keep my eyes locked on the glacier while I unpacked my bag to get out my boots, helmet, crampons (the stakes you attach to your boots so you can actually hike on the glacier), and extra layers of clothes. After Josh helped me tie up these plastic boots and clip on the crampons, I was beyond ready to go. We started our initial climb on the glacier and I felt like a newborn fawn. I eventually gained some confidence as we made it to our first stop where Josh taught us how to climb up and down a crevasse. Kick really hard to poke the two sharp spikes on your toes into the ice then you use one of the two picks in your hand to stab it in the ice, take your foot out and kick hard again higher into the glacier and repeat – slowly climbing up. We all then made our way to the spot Steve found and had all gear situated for our first descend into the glacier.
I was scared, nervous, excited, and cold. But here I went – dove in head first (okay, crampons first if you are being literal). I did it. Made it to the bottom where you could walk around. Then I had to get back out and climbed up – to me it was the easier part of the two. That was amazing. I felt strong, empowered, confident, and above all bad ass – I just ice climbed into a glacier crevasse – be right back while I take over the world. We then hiked to two other crevasses and climbed them. They progressively got even more difficult and stunning. After all was said and done, we probably ice climbed and hiked over a solid mile on the glacier. The entire trip, not including driving time to and from Anchorage/Seward, was 8 hours and probably one million calories burned.
I’m so Glad I have a GoPro