A Day on the Ice: Ice Climbing the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska


Taking a well-rounded spirit of adventure and cranking it up to the next level is always a fun thing to do – and ice climbing fits that bill perfectly. I have to admit, I think I am addicted.

All I’ve thought about since our day on the ice is….when am I going to do this again? I’ve even googled potential ice climbing hot spots back home in Australia. So, you have been warned: ice climbing can be seriously addictive.  But, for even the slightly adventurous at heart, what trip to Alaska would be complete without it?


Ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier

© Quiet Wanderings. Photography by Cherina Hadley



The Matanuska Glacier along the Glenn Highway in Alaska is a massive 27 mile long river of ice flowing from the Chugach Mountains and reaches 4 miles at its widest point.


The guys at Mica Guides will fit out with all you need for a day on the ice – boots, crampons, wet weather gear, helmet etc – until you look as ridiculous, I mean as awesome, as we did. And the experienced guides will (ahem) show you the ropes



All geared up and ready to climb

© Quiet Wanderings.



If you can climb a ladder, you can ice climb.


We began about 10am by by trekking out across the glacier until we reached a beginner-friendly wall of ice which I must say seemed awfully vertical at first glance.

But amazingly, after a few swift kicks of the crampons and some semi-coordinated swings of the ice picks we were at the top. After a few more attempts we had it down.


Hmm, that was easier than I imagined…What can we try next?



ice climbing

© Quiet Wanderings. Photo credit: Jessica Davis



Of course, in true Aussie style, we took a shortcut, skipped a step or two and moved straight from the beginners climb to the advanced. And yes, this one actually was vertical, much higher and looked kind of daunting.

It required a different climbing technique and was more intense…but also way more fun!


It is such an exhilarating feeling reaching the top, looking down to see how far you’ve climbed and just hanging there for a while taking in the miles and miles of ice.



Ice climbing

© Quiet Wanderings.



No one in our group of six had ice climbed before and everyone worked their way up to doing the advanced climb. We finished early so one the guides was kind enough to take us for a walk to a different part of the glacier. This is what we found…



ice climbing

© Quiet Wanderings.



crevasse on the Matanuska Glacier

© Quiet Wanderings



Thanks so much to Rich, Ellis and Geoff for taking us out on the ice and especially Rich for going the extra mile to make sure we got some killer photos.



Are you visiting Quiet Wanderings for the first time?

Check out what it’s all about, sign up for email updates, subscribe to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

About the Author

Quiet Wanderings

Comments (10)
Leave a reply

Name (required)


CommentLuv badge