Wrangell - St Elias
National Park & Preserve Alaska
July 22, 2013
I just got back from an eight day backpacking patrol. A volunteer and I hiked from Iceberg Lake to the Fan Glacier airstrip. We also added a nice little loop section that took us north through Allie's Valley. We had absolutely incredible weather for this trip. In eight days we got about 15 minutes of rain, all in one evening and long after we had crawled into the tent. I came back sunburned even though I slathered on the sunscreen. This is a great route, but it is not an easy route. We encountered a lot of glacial travel through really choppy sections and an afternoon of solid bushwhacking.
We started at Iceberg Lake and hiked west. We camped the first night overlooking the Bremner Glacier, wondering how we would be able to get onto it the following day. In the morning we hiked down to the edge of the glacier. There is a large stream that flows along the eastern edge of the glacier which was too deep and swift to cross at any of the places we saw. Eventually we found a place where the water flowed under the ice and we scrambled up onto the glacier and into a crevasse field. It was really slow going as we picked our way through the crevasses. Eventually we made our way down to the northern terminus of the Bremner.
The following morning was foggy and we could hear another group out in the fog. They passed us by and headed up the valley, probably on the route from Iceberg to Bremner. We climbed off the glacier and headed up the valley soon after them. As we climbed the pass leading to Allie's Valley we had a very close bear encounter. The bear came within about 25 feet of my hiking partner. In the end the bear wandered off (after lots of shouting and arm waving) and we continued our climb toward the pass. The view into Allie's Valley was spectacular. We had a great campsite that night, overlooking the whole valley.
The next two days were spent finishing the loop and returning to the Bremner Glacier. The high alpine valleys were incredible. Wildflowers everywhere, high hanging glaciers, and beautiful waterfalls. We reached the glacier and headed south, retracing our route with some modifications. The glacier was much less broken a little further to the west than we had traveled. We continued along the glacier turning more to the west the following day. Lots of pretty slow travel, picking our way around crevasses or slogging on moraine. We had long discussions about whether moraine or brush was worse, its hard to say for sure but they can both be pretty miserable.
We reached the airstrip on the afternoon of our seventh day and the flight came in right on time the following afternoon. This is a great trip but very challenging. Send us an email if you have any questions about this hike or any other hike in the park. Also, if you are hiking the Iceberg to Bremner Route and you have a bear encounter of any kind please let us know.
Unnamed glacier west of Iceberg Lake.
Broken section of Bremner Glacier, very slow travel.
This is what we woke up to on Day 3. Luckily we had been able to scout our route the night before.
Ranger Olson getting ready to descend into Allie's Valley.
Climbing out of Allie's Valley.
High alpine lake, best lunch spot of the patrol.
Waterfalls just off the Middle Fork of the Bremner Glacier.
End of the line... Fan Glacier Airstrip.
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