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Alaska Glacier Summer Ice Climbing

Original Post
Nash Wilson · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

I know there are guide services which provide summer ice climbing on glaciers such as Matanuska, Root Glacier, and Spencer. Is a guide required, or is it possible to bring your own equipment and pay an entrance fee to climb (similar to Ouray?) Also, does anyone climb Worthington Glacier near Thompson Pass? Is there any climbing on Valdez or Columbia glacier if accessed via boat? I'd like to visit Alaska late May/early June 2019 and was thinking about bringing my ice gear. Is it worth it?

Gerrit Verbeek · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I can't speak for the Root glacier, but unguided Matanuska and Spencer access is possible but a hassle.

Spencer Glacier pretty much requires a floatplane or whistlestop train ticket to access. I think whistlestop tickets would be about $80 round trip, but don't quote me on that. Go to and select the (first) Portage stop to the Spencer Glacier Whistlestop. The Portage stop is along the highway and you can leave a car there for a few days.

Matanuska has unguided access but it's really, really frustrating. The glacier is on public land but one family controls the only property with convenient glacier access during the summer. Right now they charge $30/person (edited thanks to updated info from Steven), plus a camping fee, to cross their property and get onto a glacier unguided. Their website is They also sell guided tours, as does MICA guiding. Since this is a public forum, the most diplomatic way to say it is that the Matanuska Glacier Adventures family does not have a good reputation for customer service. This past year they also started trying to corral climbers to certain areas of the glacier, even though they don't own it or have any legal right to do so, so that their guided tours would have views with no humans. If you show up in September, though, consider tagging along for the MCA's (Mountaineering Club of Alaska, separate from MICA) ice fest. It'll be September 29th-30th this year.

Two other options are Byron and Portage glaciers. Bryon Glacier would only have some 'ice bouldering' in ice caves, but Portage Glacier might have some decent climbing and would cost about $7 to access (pay the Whittier/Portage tunnel fee, then hike over Portage Pass to access the glacier).

Nigel Stein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Shouldn't need anything for Root Glacier. I was up there last month and hiked out onto the glacier out of Kennicott with no issue. Spoke with a guide with Wrangell Air and he said there's no restrictions

Steven Claggett · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Hey Gerrit- The Mat is $30 per person for out of state-ers.

Nash- Gerrit is absolutely right with the customer service comment. Most of the people who work the desk or work as guides are wonderful people. The owner however is.... ornery... and that can't help but have an effect on his staff. If you were going to go with a guided climb, go with either MICA or NOVA, both great companies. If you do know what you are doing, the $30 per person is worth it. The Mat is unprecedented in its access. You don't waste a lot of time hiking out to it or faffing around, making it a great place to go spend a lot of time dropping into crevasses. So as frustrating as the company is, and as much as I cringe at paying to go play on it, I usually go to the Mat a few times a year.

Gerrit Verbeek · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Oh, good catch Steven. I hadn't been out there since summer 2016, and at that point they were trialing higher fees. Thanks for the correction, post is updated.

Dylan Stuart · · Juneau, AK · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15

If you come to southeast, Juneau has the Mendenhall Glacier, approach times ~1 hour. No fees for parking/access. We're a bit removed from the rest of the state, though.

Danomcq · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 95
Dylan Stuart wrote: If you come to southeast, Juneau has the Mendenhall Glacier, approach times ~1 hour. No fees for parking/access. We're a bit removed from the rest of the state, though.

“A bit removed”

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Pacific Northwest
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