Mountaineering on the Root Glacier
Alaska › Root Glacier Trail
Added by Lucas Pols
One of the more beautiful and accessible glacial hikes located right outside of Kennicott in Alaska's backcountry.
Starting in the town of Kennicott you'll hike on the trail leading north outside of the town for a mile and a half.
The trail will end at the edge of the glacier and this is where you put on your crampons. I would also suggest putting on your crampons at the edge of the glacier and not while on it to avoid possibly slipping on the ice!
If you have not used crampons before I would suggest you get a guide from town and do the tour as type of hike is not for beginners! They will be able to help tremendously and will make the experience possible and enjoyable.
This is where you get to decide how adventurous you want to be. There are no trails on the glacier so make a mental note of what the surrounding area, where the trail ended, looks like. You can chose to traverse any of the four combined glaciers but I chose to head north, towards the ice-wall, while hugging the side of the mountain that your original trail was on.
Here you can chose to walk for one mile or ten (for the sake of route data, I picked a midpoint at 6), it is entirely up to you! If you are heading the same direction as I did the ice-wall is located about ten miles away but I would not encourage doing the entire hike unless you rose with sun and have enough supplies for the entire day.
Disclaimer: If you do go towards the ice-wall I wouldn't get any closer then a mile as ice chunks the size of houses regularly come down off of it.
Regardless of how you go you'll be able to see some of the most beautiful abstract contrasts throughout the glaciers. The lines of black soil and blue ice make for spectacular photography.
- Daypack and food
- Hiking boots
- Gloves, warm clothes, & water proof gear as the weather can change quickly
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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Slippery First Steps
When I first arrived at Wrangell-St. Elias, I attempted to traverse across the Root Glacier only to soon discover that I was going to go NOWHERE without crampons. Fortunately, on the top of Bonanza Peak, this would-be stranger lent me his. Those first few steps would have been otherwise impossible to get over without them. He opened up a whole new adventure by toppling that hurdle.
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