For guests who are looking for an advanced hike but march to a different pace, this guided private hike to the Mendenhall Glacier is perfect for those looking to do it their way.
Set out with your private guide on your own private exploration. After departing the pier, you will be driven for approximately 30 minutes to the Mendenhall Valley and the trailhead. After a 30-minute check-in and gear orientation, you will begin an approximately 2 hour hike over a 4.5 mile trail. The hike is mostly uphill, through the rainforest along Mendenhall Lake. The first mile of the trail is well maintained and goes through forests with a few switchbacks. The remaining three miles of the trail are very off the beaten path and requires hiking on bedrock with rock scrambling on steep sections. It's important to have sturdy hiking boots that provide good ankle support while hiking on the rocky terrain. For an average fit group, it takes just over two hours to hike to the glacier. The elevation gain is more than 350 feet.
Once you reach the terminus of the glacier, you will be outfitted in trekking gear. Guides will instruct you step by step on how to trek in crampons on glacial terrain. This Juneau shore trip features close-up views of the many different features of a glacier. These MAY include ice caves, streams, crevasses and other unique glacial formations. As a glacier is a constantly changing landscape, the actual sights seen during your trek will be finalized the day of the trek and will be based on weather, glacial condition and guest's safety.
After trekking around the glacier, if time and glacier conditions permit, you will be given a short introduction to ice climbing. With the use of ice axes on a beginner slope, guides teach you the basic techniques of climbing up and down on an ice wall. Guests will need at least a low-top hiking boot to keep the crampon in place when climbing. High top hiking boots are recommended. The amount of time on the glacier is dependent on the group's pace and weather conditions for the day. The average time is approximately 1 to 2 hours.
You will then return to the starting point along the same trail you hiked at the beginning.
Please Note: You must be in good shape and able to hike for 6 to 6.5 hours, covering about 9 miles round trip in a challenging environment (please see hike description above). It is important to have sturdy shoes or boots that provide good ankle support while hiking on the rocky terrain. Guests showing up with inadequate footwear will be denied participation and will not be entitled to a refund.
All participants will need to hike with a provided backpack the entire way on this trip. The backpack weighs approximately 10 to 15 pounds and holds mountaineering gear, snacks, water, and extra clothing that you may wish to bring.