Hiking the Root Glacier

Hiking on a glacier is a once in a lifetime experience. The Root Glacier is as good as it gets. In all honesty, however, the Root was not our first. We ice trekked on Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina and have hiked up to the Mer de Glace in the French Alps. Still, we’d never experienced as much time and covered as much ground as we did on the incredible Root Glacier.

We joined our guided hike with Kennecott Wilderness Guides in the historic mining town of Kennecott. After being fitted for crampons we hiked through the ruins of the mine and onto the two mile trail that led to the tongue of the glacier.

Along the way we crossed rushing streams and had expansive views across the moraines.

Once we reached the glacier we put on our crampons and began our walk out onto the ice. I was a bit worried about the ice breaking apart but we were assured that the ice was solid, up to 600 feet deep.

We spent several hours walking on solid ice and learning about glacier features like mulans, ice falls, and crevasses. We got pretty good at traversing the glacier with the help of crampons, those sharp spikes that strapped to the bottom of our boots.

In all we covered about seven miles with about half of that using the crampons. We would have never seen or learned as much without the help of our guide, and the pictures don’t really capture the vastness or the incredible beauty found when standing in the middle of a glacier. While it was a cold and rainy day, we were prepared with warm clothes and rain gear. The cloudy conditions were actually welcomed as the blue hues of the ice were more vibrant without the glaring sun.

People say this is a highlight of an Alaskan vacation. We still have a lot of territory to cover but it’s going to be tough to top this one.