Snowmachine Safety Class. 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. 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 guidebook Delta Range: A Mountaineering Playground by Stan Justice is available in Fairbanks at Beaver Sports. Look at those layers of ice and sediment! Castner glacier is rapidly receding and as it melts has created many stunning and several exceptional ice caves. All the pics were taken with my phone so I'll apologize now for any pixelated images. You can easily find yourself knee-deep in mud that looked like solid ground. 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. Ice caves are dangerous. Know your skill level and your limits before attempting any backcountry travel! The Castner Glacier is an easily accessible glacier toe in the Delta Mountains of the Alaska Range. (photo courtesy Todd Baham) The parking spot is just a wide dirt shoulder on the side of the highway. 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. The easiest way up to either ice tongue is to walk, ski, or snowshoe on the southernmost medial moraine. Box 31312, Fort Greely, AK 99731All text and photos on this site are copyrighted. Also, beware of thin ice on the right side of the floor deep inside the ice cave. We walked to the bowl in the Center of the pictures. 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. Follow the north side of the riverbed to the toe. Exploring Castner Glacier, Alaska We celebrated the start of the New Year by hiking to Castner Glacier. 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 is already ample snow along Castner Creek, so skis or snowshoes are recommended. Here, in the interior, we just ended the fourth longest cold snap in history where we had 35 days straight of temperature below … The caves often reach far back and are sculpted in inconceivable ways. Historical Weather. 2/10/2020 0 Comments It's February in Alaska, and we've learned that can mean some pretty unpredictable weather conditions. Most of the tongue of the Castner is debris-covered, very bumpy, and partially vegetated. (Full-size digital files delivered via web download after your hike. Exercise extreme caution if entering. In winter these dangers are not as prevalent but still exist. Looking up at the Castner glacier hidden by snow. Join me! If continuing on the glacier, you will need to cross the moraine to the highest southern moraine. Description for a few backcountry hikes possible near the Worthington Glacier starting at 2-miles and up. That’s where the “type II” fun started. 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! (Please inquire.). In summer you can cross the moraine in a semi-crevasse free zone a few hundred feet to the northeast of the hut. I’d read that the “trail” to Castner Glacier can be dodgy in the winter. 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. Half-day tours are limited to approximately 6 hours maximum, while full-day tours don’t have any strict time limitations. I have at least 30 guides in draft now, and am hoping to add 50 by the end of 2020! About a mile up the northern branch is the Thayer Hut, an alpine hut installed and maintained by the Alaska Alpine Club. 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. Blue: winter “trail” – Red: route from 2015 trip to Thayer Hut – map disclaimer. On the glacier whiteouts are common. A 50% cancellation fee is charged when reservations are canceled at least three days in advance. 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 … The Castner Glacier was the location. This half-mile trail will take you to one of the coolest ice caves in Alaska. Nearing the glacier, we saw some overflow on the surface. The view is even nicer when you hit the junction. 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. Spend a minute looking for the best route from above. 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! You must be a member of the Alaska Alpine Club to use the hut. Be familiar with navigation and have a compass, map, and/or GPS handy. 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. At the end of the season, when the first major snow falls the rough surface becomes once again smooth. 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. Thank you for your support! At Castner Creek we pulled off the highway into the small lot and bundled up. 721k members in the MostBeautiful community. 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. Behind me, the cave extends far back. The hike to Castner Glacier is easy and straightforward. https://dfjare.blogspot.com/2014/04/castner-glacier-ice-cave-adventures.html 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). You’ll traverse the more gentle talus slope above the red and tan cliffs to the point. My first mountaineering trip up the Castner valley was in 2012, and I’ve walked/skied up it nearly every year since. Below are weather averages from 1971 to 2000 according to data gathered from the nearest official weather station. 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. Maximum group size 6; special arrangements must be made for larger groups up to 10. My focus in photography is mainly landscape and wildlife. This trail is not maintained and not marked. The glacier is fairly crevassed and avalanche or rockslide risk on the slopes is high (even small slopes like the moraine). How to shoot the northern lights, how to edit photos in post-processing with a focus on FOSS software programs. 4 to 8+ hours . Behind me, the cave extends far back. Keystone Canyon is a gorgeous 3-mile long canyon with enormous waterfalls and cliffsides near Valdez, Alaska. Castner Glacier Cave Exploring. 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). 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. Here is a description of the activities. This is actually from November 2019, Thanksgiving weekend. Aug 7, 2020 - How to hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail near Paxson, Alaska. I spend quite a bit of time hiking in the backcountry of Alaska to find gorgeous sights that few people ever see. In the short summer, water scours the glacier surface creating a ripple-like surface on the ice going down-glacier. ), 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 Castner Glacier route can be used to access the peaks Silvertip, Triangle, Rum Doodle, Mary’s Rock, White Princess, Black Cap, and many others. The easier south side follows a short ATV trail before dropping onto the riverbed. Additionally, events called jökulhlaups can occur where glacier locked lakes drain catastrophically and completely fill these tunnels with no warning from below. 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. Please do not reproduce without permission. This unimproved road is located at mile 217.3 on the north side of Castner Creek. 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. Each represents at least a winter of ice. The winter trail usually follows the south side of Castner Creek. From Delta, drive about 50 miles south along the Richardson. This was taken at the end of the day when I could really see the shadows from those ripples. December 12. The cave is on the left side of the glacial lobe. 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. The Castner Glacier is an easily accessible glacier toe in the Delta Mountains of the Alaska Range. October 24, 2020 Update: The ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is currently accessible and should remain accessible throughout winter. Remember this spot by landmark or mark it on a GPS for the return trip. Add $30 per person for professional adventure portraits. It’s a little over 1 mile to the glacier. If you find this content helpful or enjoyable, please consider donating a small amount. Look at those layers of ice and sediment! 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. Hiking Castner Glacier During Winter. ... winter 2018/2019; explore alaska. However, there are no signs and no maintained trail leading to the glacier. We hiked to Castner Glacier Ice Cave on March 14, 2020.