We left home at around 8 am under cloudy skies with a temperature of 20 F. The national weather forecast for the area around Castner glacier was calling for sunny skies but I had my doubts. It might be tricky finding a way down on to the ice in summer. On the glacier whiteouts are common. ), Route Length (half-day): 1.25+ mile (one-way), negligible elevation gainDifficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate, Route Length (full-day): up to 3 miles (one-way), 500 feet elevation gain Difficulty Rating: Moderate to Difficult, Private Half-day Tours (4-6 hours)1 Person $3002 People $350 ($175pp)3 People $450 ($150pp)Each additional person $75 (up to 6 max)Private Full-day Tours (8-12 hours)1 Person $4002 People $450 ($225pp)3 People $575 ($192pp)Each extra person $100 (up to 6 max), Alaska Resident & Military Discount: Parties with at least one Alaska resident or active duty military personnel receive a 10% discount. The parking spot is just a wide dirt shoulder on the side of the highway. Trails for all walkers and hikers. The Castner Glacier was the location. Purchasing prints and wall art also helps. I haven’t done it myself but after realizing how easy the trail is and seeing photos of the ice cave during winter, I can’t wait to go back. I have decided to call this open ice face the “Cathedral of 1000 Swords” Posing next to a frozen waterfall at the eastern Ice cave of Castner Glacier. You can easily find yourself knee-deep in mud that looked like solid ground. Behind me, the cave extends far back. Map and descriptions for numerous trails near the entrance and Visitor Center to Denali National Park. Half-day tours are limited to approximately 6 hours maximum, while full-day tours don’t have any strict time limitations. In summer, you can access from either side of the creek. No refunds are given for cancellations made less than three days in advance. Popularized by the guidebook Outside in the Interior and many recent social media posts of the ice caves, the route to the Castner Glacier has become a well-traveled trail in winter. October 24, 2020 Update: The ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is currently accessible and should remain accessible throughout winter. I spend quite a bit of time hiking in the backcountry of Alaska to find gorgeous sights that few people ever see. At Castner Creek we pulled off the highway into the small lot and bundled up. A 1/2 mile hike leads you to the Castner Glacier. The winter trail usually follows the south side of Castner Creek. In winter you will want to be roped up and be knowledgable in crevasses rescue as there are numerous crevasses in this area. There used to be a system on the southern margin, but in recent years has been collapsing and receding quite fast there. Join me! Alaska wildflower guide with many photos and galleries of photos with identifying information, nomenclature and taxonomy, uses, and links to more references. It’s possible to see the Castner Glacier ice cave during the wintertime. For complete tour policies and more tour information, see the Black Rapids Tours FAQ. Here is a description of the activities. Thank you! Full FTC Disclosure. This trail is not maintained and not marked. The caves often reach far back and are sculpted in inconceivable ways. The moraine is straightforward to find as it is the highest point on the glacier and is a relatively smooth ridge all the way to the junction. I was going to take them to the Gulkana glacier, since I am familiar with that one, but decided to try to get to the ice cave at the Castner glacier, mentioned to me by Dea, since it was on the way south.She skiied it with a few others about a month ago. The Thayer Hut sits on a shelf above the glacier on the north side of the Silver Tip branch where it joins the main trunk of the glacier. Be familiar with navigation and have a compass, map, and/or GPS handy. Pushing our way out of the drainage to stay dry, we followed a gentle moraine to the top of the northern terminus of the Castner. Also, beware of thin ice on the right side of the floor deep inside the ice cave. December 5. )Receive a discount when you also book an Aurora Borealis Photography Tour. Mostly in the Fairbanks and interior region of Alaska, but always expanding to new areas! These links help support this website and keeps the content free. That’s where the “type II” fun started. . Looking up at the Castner glacier hidden by snow. I have decided to call this open ice face the “Cathedral of 1000 Swords” Posing next to a frozen waterfall at the eastern Ice cave of Castner Glacier. This sub is about finding beauty in the the world around us, from the simple and ordinary to the … There are large icefalls to see up the White Princess Branch. All you do is follow Castner Creek for about 1.1 miles until you come to the glacier caves at the front of Castner Glacier. Castner Glacier Ice Cave. They were formed by meltwater under the glacier and can have water flowing even in winter. The easier south side follows a short ATV trail before dropping onto the riverbed. A 50% cancellation fee is charged when reservations are canceled at least three days in advance. Route Description: Castner Glacier is the simplest glacier to reach coming from Fairbanks, and for the past several years it’s been the easiest place to find an ice cave as well. Popular Charitable Galleries Abstract Landscapes Wildlife Glaciers Aurora Forest Water, All material Copyright Lee Petersen 2010-2020 For usage please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org 603-748-1057, As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Steven Miley Photography | email@example.com | (907) 888-4850 | P.O. Frequent snows and wind events last winter made it very difficult to hike to the cave without snowshoes or skis; don’t try the hike without them unless you are very fit and want to suffer, and don’t fall in Castner Creek! Outdoor Recreation. Trip location: Castner Glacier ... I’d been on the glacier a few times during the winter and it was fun to see it during the fall. November 10, 2020 Update: Now that winter has arrived, the ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is accessible again, and should remain accessible throughout winter. Maps, photos, and information. Look at those layers of ice and sediment! Be advised that Castner Creek has just recently frozen over, so be careful crossing Castner Creek as there may be open water lurking beneath the snow. This was taken at the end of the day when I could really see the shadows from those ripples. Sunny, snowy and 30 below temperatures make for fun camping and skiing! While returning from the first ascent of Black Cap in the spring of 1961, AAC member Bucky Wilson and others noticed the fantastic hut site, a green alpine meadow spared by two branches of the Castner Glacier. If there isn’t a visible trail, stay on the south side of the creek until you reach the terminus. The Sky Is Visible Through A Hole In The Ceiling Of This Castner Glacier Ice Cave In The Alaska Range; Alaska, United States Of America. Know your skill level and your limits before attempting any backcountry travel! 4 to 8+ hours . Last winter and already this winter, many people did not successfully reach the ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier on their own for a variety of reasons, so please read through the info in this Facebook post before trying to reach the cave on your own, especially if you are not from Alaska or have not been to Castner Glacier before. Description for a few backcountry hikes possible near the Worthington Glacier starting at 2-miles and up. How to shoot the northern lights, how to edit photos in post-processing with a focus on FOSS software programs. It’s at the toe that you can frequently find ice caves. For those interested in some serious exercise on a full-day tour, it’s always fun to spend the rest of the day searching for curious glacial features and other ice caves in the moraine…Castner Glacier is always full of hidden surprises! The cave is on the left side of the glacial lobe. Snowmachine Safety Class. Keystone Canyon is a gorgeous 3-mile long canyon with enormous waterfalls and cliffsides near Valdez, Alaska. There is parking on either side of the bridge at Castner Creek on the Richardson Highway (mile 217.3). Additionally, events called jökulhlaups can occur where glacier locked lakes drain catastrophically and completely fill these tunnels with no warning from below. Hiking Castner Glacier During Winter. I wish to expand these guides and tutorials and keep them freely available, however, creating them is time-consuming and web-hosting isn’t free. January 9. The Castner Glacier is losing ice mass rapidly, literally collapsing in on itself, and much of the central glacier has become a deep trench with water flowing between icy, muddy banks. However, there are no signs and no maintained trail leading to the glacier. The guidebook Delta Range: A Mountaineering Playground by Stan Justice is available in Fairbanks at Beaver Sports. Snowmachine Safety Class. In summer you can cross the moraine in a semi-crevasse free zone a few hundred feet to the northeast of the hut. At the end of the season, when the first major snow falls the rough surface becomes once again smooth. The shrinking Castner is literally collapsing in on itself; much of the central glacier has become a deep, meltwater-filled trench. The Castner Glacier is an easily accessible glacier toe in the Delta Mountains of the Alaska Range. Blue: winter “trail” – Red: route from 2015 trip to Thayer Hut – map disclaimer. ... winter 2018/2019; explore alaska. 721k members in the MostBeautiful community. We were in the midst of a warm spell so I decided to go visit an easily accessible ice cave in the Alaska Range with my son. High today: 63 Low today: 35 My goal of this day was to get Aviva and Jud to a glacier, special request by Jud. This guide is in its infancy, but will soon expand into many more territories. It’s one of the few glaciers I’ve had to bushwack on for a short stretch. (No ice climbing gear required. Children are welcome on tours but there is no youth discount; see age recommendations in difficulty ratings below. Before the bridge over Castner Creek, look for a small, unimproved road on the left. Aug 7, 2020 - How to hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail near Paxson, Alaska. Here, in the interior, we just ended the fourth longest cold snap in history where we had 35 days straight of temperature below … Each represents at least a winter of ice. I have at least 30 guides in draft now, and am hoping to add 50 by the end of 2020! On the edge of the Castner Glacier in the Deltas looking down the Castner Valley into the Eastern Alaska Range. Box 31312, Fort Greely, AK 99731All text and photos on this site are copyrighted. In winter and spring, there is often a packed snowshoe trail on the south side of the creek that is easy to follow to the ice caves and glacier toe. December 5. You must be a member of the Alaska Alpine Club to use the hut. Historical Weather. However, 0° F is near average during the coldest months (December & January) and it’s actually a comfortable temperature to recreate in once your blood gets flowing, so clients should prepare to face cold temperatures and dress appropriately. The road ends after 1/2 mile, turning into an unimproved foot path heading up the side of Castner Creek. November 28. The scenery to the south is fairly impressive. There is already ample snow along Castner Creek, so skis or snowshoes are recommended. https://dfjare.blogspot.com/2014/04/castner-glacier-ice-cave-adventures.html The first 6-7 miles of the glacier are debris-covered and partially vegetated. This unimproved road is located at mile 217.3 on the north side of Castner Creek. fall colors & northern lights photography workshop. The easiest way up to either ice tongue is to walk, ski, or snowshoe on the southernmost medial moraine. The moraine is getting nasty, and it’s so close to the valley wall that it’s a terrible terrain trap for avalanches. 2417 Feet Elevation Gain . In the last few years, there has been a great Röthlisberger channel (R-channel – semi-circular channel at the glacier base) almost in the middle of the toe. The glacier is fairly crevassed and avalanche or rockslide risk on the slopes is high (even small slopes like the moraine). My focus in photography is mainly landscape and wildlife. It’s not your stereotypical blue glacier calving into a big lake or the ocean, but rather a gritty valley glacier covered in rock, mud, and—in the winter—snow. This water is often very turbulent, fast, and very powerful. Sunday I visited a place I've been meaning to visit since Decemberish - Castner Glacier Cave, about 40 miles south of Delta Junction on the Richardson Highway. We walked to the bowl in the Center of the pictures. Bears are frequently in the area. Each represents at least a winter of ice. Spend a minute looking for the best route from above. Be advised that Castner Creek has just recently frozen over, so be careful crossing Castner Creek as there may be open water lurking beneath the snow. The slope leading up to the hut poses avalanche risk as well. Full payment is required to reserve a tour. Feb 28, 2020 - It's February in Alaska, and we've learned that can mean some pretty unpredictable weather conditions. Thank you for your support! Add $30 per person for professional adventure portraits. It is hard to believe that such places exist on Earth. My first mountaineering trip up the Castner valley was in 2012, and I’ve walked/skied up it nearly every year since. Because of this, I remind people always to follow Leave No Trace principles when in the backcountry and pack out whatever you bring in. It was a beautiful day walking through a perfect winter wonderland ️ Be advised there is no “trail” to the ice cave, only a route with no signs that may or may not have a track in the snow for you to follow depending on the last time other people ventured to the cave and recent weather conditions. One or two trips per season was all I could fit into my spring semester without failing classes. The off-trail route climbs Castner to the Silvertip Icefield and, despite being almost entirely on the glacier, does not require crampons, ice axes, or ropes. The Castner Glacier route can be used to access the peaks Silvertip, Triangle, Rum Doodle, Mary’s Rock, White Princess, Black Cap, and many others. If you like what I do please support me on Ko-fi. The nearest weather station for both precipitation and temperature measurements is PAXSON which is approximately 27 miles away and has an elevation of 2,700 feet (587 feet lower than Castner Glacier). This east-west running glacier splits at about mile-7 from the road into a north (main branch or White Princess Branch) and south (M’ladies branch). I hiked this in the winter so I couldn’t comment on summer hiking conditions but hiking on top of the hard ice from the creek made things so much easier! The temperature dropped as we drove north, eventually hitting -24 °F as we climbed into the Eastern Alaska Range. 7.8 Miles winter/summer. Castner Glacier is located in Delta Junction, about 140 miles from Fairbanks which is about a 2.5 hour drive. Alternately, a road on the north side of the bridge leads to a few good roadside camping locations and another spot to start the hike (refer to map). Exercise extreme caution if entering. This is actually from November 2019, Thanksgiving weekend. From Delta, drive about 50 miles south along the Richardson. From here, you will mainly follow the riverbed with some occasional bushwacking in the willows, following the creek up to the toe. New field mapping of surficial deposits near the Castner Glacier, Alaska has identified three distinct moraine complexes beyond the current glacier margin, denoting at least three separate intervals of glacial advance or stillstand. There are numerous hiking trails in the area. About a mile up the northern branch is the Thayer Hut, an alpine hut installed and maintained by the Alaska Alpine Club. Beware that later in the day the stream may be much more full. Refer to Stan Justice’s Delta Range: A Mountaineering Playground for more details. Snowshoes, traction devices, headlamps & helmets provided as necessary at no extra cost. There is a sizeable canyon where the moraine meets the ice surface. Hiking and travel guide to Alaska. The hike to Castner Glacier is easy and straightforward. Castner Glacier ice caves January 25, 2020 by Paxson Woelber « Trip Reports on Winterbear.com Castner Glacier Ice Caves Three Jan-Feb 2020 trips to the Castner Glacier ice caves January 25, January 30, and February 4, 2020 The word “otherworldly” gets used a lot when describing outdoor places, and it’s … Please see the Castner Glacier Summer tour page if you are interested in visiting Castner Glacier May through September — this page is for winter tours. Most of the tongue of the Castner is debris-covered, very bumpy, and partially vegetated. Clients who want to press farther into the wilderness or spend more time exploring, photographing, or otherwise enjoying their time outdoors should consider a full-day tour, though half-day tours are designed to offer impressive sights and a fun experience on routes where offered. Castner glacier is rapidly receding and as it melts has created many stunning and several exceptional ice caves. In the short summer, water scours the glacier surface creating a ripple-like surface on the ice going down-glacier. N 63° 27.156’ W 145° 32.181’ – 4800 ft (1463 m). Castner Glacier. Winter 2008 A late glacial and holocene chronology of the Castner Glacier, Delta River Valley, Alaska Michael W. Howley University of New Hampshire, Durham Follow this and additional works at:https://scholars.unh.edu/thesis Exploring Castner Glacier, Alaska We celebrated the start of the New Year by hiking to Castner Glacier. (photo courtesy Todd Baham) Follow the north side of the riverbed to the toe. Maximum group size 6; special arrangements must be made for larger groups up to 10. You’ll traverse the more gentle talus slope above the red and tan cliffs to the point. If you find this content helpful or enjoyable, please consider donating a small amount. I am literally standing underneath thousands of years of ice history! ). I may earn commissions if you shop through the affiliate links on this page. I am literally standing underneath thousands of years of ice history! Michael Warlick and his Elizabeth Warlick pose in crampons while sitting in the snow outside an ice cave at the toe of the Castner Glacier. Tours may be canceled due to extreme cold (below about -15 °F), in which case your tour will be rescheduled or fully refunded. Before running into the Alaska Range to test out new ski bindings and skins, Greg, who is quite a curler, invited me on Thursday night to run to a ski area that is only open on weekends, skin up, ski down, and run back to Fairbanks before dark (7:00 PM! In winter these dangers are not as prevalent but still exist. Here you can find tons of crystal clear ice, artistic shapes made by nature through millions of years, and soft sunbeams that barely pierce frozen walls… Looking at this miracle, only one thing may come to mind: it truly is a palace for a Snow Q If continuing on the glacier, you will need to cross the moraine to the highest southern moraine. Other hazards include frequent rockfall from the moraine above or total cave collapse. We hiked to Castner Glacier Ice Cave on March 14, 2020. There is no official or maintained trail. As you stand there in the chill of the cave and stare into the crystal-clear ice, it is impossible to grasp it all! December 12. Behind me, the cave extends far back. It’s a little over 1 mile to the glacier. Hiking or snowshoeing to Castner Glacier is not difficult for most people, and if you have very good directions and the weather is nice you may not need a guide to get there, but in bad weather or extreme cold the hike can be dangerous and difficult, and most people without glacier travel experience are hesitant or unprepared to go any farther than the glacier’s terminus or explore very far inside the ice cave at the front, and some people have fallen through the ice of this cave into waist-deep water! Castner Glacier is a fairly popular starting point for all sorts of backcountry adventures, but a small road on the north side of the creek gives access to some very nice, close in country as well. Ice caves are dangerous. There are numerous large hanging glaciers and big peaks. Know how to stay safe, avoid encounters, and properly protect yourself in the event of an encounter. Travel upon the glacier is … I’d read that the “trail” to Castner Glacier can be dodgy in the winter. Offset offers authentic … (Please inquire.). In heavy or blowing snow, the cave may be incredibly difficult to find. All tours are private and involve no technical rock or ice climbing. Photos from the Castner Glacier, Creek, and surrounding mountains. Nearing the glacier, we saw some overflow on the surface. Snow cover may be thin from October through November, which might make this a hike, an icy hike, or a snowshoe, but usually by December there is enough snow that skis or snowshoes are preferred. Remember this spot by landmark or mark it on a GPS for the return trip. The view is even nicer when you hit the junction. ). November 10, 2020 Update: Now that winter has arrived, the ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is accessible again, and should remain accessible throughout winter. (Full-size digital files delivered via web download after your hike. This page is for summer hiking tours of Castner Glacier (available May through September); if you are interested in visiting Castner Glacier between October and April, see the Castner Glacier Winter tour page. Tutorials on general and auorora photography. Inevitably my obsessive tendencies honed my mountaineering focus to the Castner Creek, which flows from the Castner Glacier. Please do not reproduce without permission. It highlights many of the climbable peaks accessible by the Castner Glacier. All the pics were taken with my phone so I'll apologize now for any pixelated images. The Castner Glacier is an easily accessible glacier toe in the Delta Mountains of the Alaska Range. In summer, beware of soft spots. This half-mile trail will take you to one of the coolest ice caves in Alaska. It’s nearly impossible to tell the direction in those conditions. Below are weather averages from 1971 to 2000 according to data gathered from the nearest official weather station. Castner Glacier Cave Exploring. Also up the White Princess Branch is a stunning view of Silvertip. All Rights Reserved - Copyright Lee Petersen 2020, Purchasing prints and wall art also helps, Intro To Darktable 1 – My Lightable Workflow, Arctic sweet coltsfoot – Petasites frigidus, Review: Gregory Alpinisto Pack (35 and 50), Hiking, Backpacking, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Mountaineering, 2 miles round-trip (glacier toe) to as far as you want, Easy walk or snowshoe up to toe of glacier, Mile 217.3 Richardson highway (Castner Creek). Look at those layers of ice and sediment! 2/10/2020 0 Comments It's February in Alaska, and we've learned that can mean some pretty unpredictable weather conditions.
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