When it was first finished in 1964, the Thayer Hut was only 100 feet above ice level; now, it’s 400. At one point we thought it was the plywood glue they were after so pine boards were hauled in for the floor and cedar siding for the walls. The hike to the glacier’s face follows Castner Creek; the creek is fast-flowing, brown, and fed by the melting glacier. About 2.2 miles roundtrip. « … Report hut problems to the Club. By 1968 another hut site had been selected 7 miles up the Canwell Glacier. 12 miles long. Castner Glacier caves, Castner Creek, Alaska Pipeline. In summer though, it’s best to start on the north side of the creek. A hike up Castner Glacier is honestly a pretty rough experience, but it still offers a brush free and gently ascending highway into the heart of the spectacular glacier clad Delta Mountains, as well as a small mountain hut at the end, in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. The bearing from the hut to the pass is 192 degrees. ADVERTISEMENT. Good visibility or a GPS is needed to find the hut. (There is some ice in the smaller gully further down glacier) Imagine you are a helicopter pilot searching for some flat ground close to the glacier and free from avalanche danger. The hut is 12' by 10' and sleeps 5. Holmgren and another climber, Tobi Norton, had planned to ski to the Thayer Hut, near the Castner Glacier in the Delta Range, and climb the peak’s face the following day. With good snow conditions this can be simple cramponing up Styrofoam snow. But through the years the glacier has dropped dramatically making the climb up to the hut an arduous and potentially dangerous climb. In cloudy weather there are features that might help you find the hut. Travel Alert: The Glacier Point Ski Hut will not open for the 2020-21 season due to lack of power.We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and we encourage you to come enjoy a winter visit to Yosemite National Park. Parties have been avalanched off this slope. Ascend grunge slope to the hut bench. Start up the White Princess branch. Traverse down to the ice tongue. There are a few spots along the road though to go for a casual walk and enjoy the spectacular and comparatively little visited mountain range without committing to a bushwhacking off trail adventure. Jeremiah Harrington walks up the Castner Glacier during a camping trip during the Labor Day holiday. The mountains along the Richardson Highway south of Delta are awe inspiring, and a bit daunting when it comes to outdoor recreation. Winter parties should be roped up. The Castner glacier eventually emerges on your right. This trail is not maintained and not marked. At the base of this ridge, but at the top of an awfully unstable glacier moraine, is a dramatically isolated meadow where the hut is placed. There is a minivan sized rock which parties mistake for the hut (not a bad mistake as the hut is just over the knoll). I used to pack all my own food and snub the use of pre-made, dehydrated backpacking meals. This was in the spring of 1967 I think when a group of us from Fairbanks Skied the 8 miles up the Castner Glacier to stay in the hut and play in the area. The walls were re-insulated with foam boards - they devoured it. 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. Via Silvertip Branch One can also go up the Silvertip Branch, skirting giant moulons, until you pass all the cliff bands. It has remained there ever since. There have been a few repair trips to replace and repair the outside sheeting and install a new door and floor but for the most part the hut has weathered well. Castner Glacier a glacier in Alaska. 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 … In 2006 the hut was leveled with wood cribs and got a new door and windows. But by July or August, Mary's rock is free of snow and the creek dries up. Get off the glacier and climb the final slope. Castner Glacier sits right at the boundary of these two regions, and generally gets the most use of anywhere in the range, making it one of the more reasonable options for a short hike in this beautiful mountain wilderness. Summer Off-Trail Hikes. The term ice cave, it turns out, is sometimes used by geologists to describe a regular bedrock cave that features year-round ice, but as its usually meant when discussing Alaska, ice caves refer, well, to caves within a body of ice, namely a glacier. This hut was built by the Alaska Alpine Club in the early 60's. Below are weather averages from 1971 to 2000 according to data gathered from the nearest official weather station. The road ends after 1/2 mile, turning into an unimproved foot path heading up the side of Castner Creek. In the heart of ski country, it gets a lot of lake effect snow, so much so that many seasons provide four full months of skiing, mid-December to mid-March. Hopping across the river of meltwater coming straight out of the Mint Glacier, we made our way back toward the hut. When the hut was built the Castner Glacier filled the valley making it easy to get from the glacier to the hut meadow. The final slope to the hut is steep enough to avalanche. Access to the northern aspects of the White Princess is somewhat difficult due to a broken-up section of the Castner Glacier just above the junction with the M'Ladies branch. The Alaska Alpine Club maintains three huts in the Delta Range. The steep walls of the hut are a notebook for every climber and skier that has entered this cirque for the last 49 years. This is Thayer Hut on the Castner Glacier just north of the Canwell Glacier. Head up either the north or south side of the creek. The entire bottom of the hut was sheathed in aluminum to keep the critters out. Visit us at the Revelstoke Administration Office, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, or contact us for details. Once you reach the rock covered glacier, hike up onto it until it starts to level out (well, level is relative, as it’s all unstable, rolling, rocky terrain). The log book makes for great reading. In the summer several climbs were made in the Castner Glacier area. The hut is open to all climbers who visit the … There are not many options except the hut location. Originally the hut was called "Upper Canwell Glacier Hut" but was renamed the MacKeith Hut after club president Peter MacKeith died while climbing Old Snowy in April 1980. A site was selected about 16 miles up the glacier but the pilots balked and put the hut down about 12 miles up glacier. The frame was assembled on campus then taken apart and hauled up the glacier on people's backs. 1380 Feet Elevation Gain (summer) / 1700 Feet Elevation Gain (winter), 3 to 6+ hours (summer) / 4 to 8+ hours (winter). Using a gothic arch shape they achieved a spacious feel with no flat roof. From here there are four options, one of which will be the best route for the current glacier conditions. Simon Filhol, Eyal Saiet, Jenna Zechmann hiked up the glacier to the MacKeith Hut so they could help level the backcountry shelter. The hut is open to climbers using this area, in which several one-day climbs are possible. A 12-foot, A-frame hut was carried in and erected eight miles up the Castner Glacier at the Princess branch. They chewed those up with abandon. Elevation gain: 3000 feet. Head directly to the nose between the Silvertip and White Princess Branches of the Castner Glacier. The hut is comfortable and has an interesting collection of things left by past parties. With care and local knowledge many people have gotten to the hut without a rope but there are hazards. 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). There are rumors of up to 10 people stuffed in for a night. Distance: 16.4 miles round trip to hut. “It was a beautiful weekend in April. Even more so than in summer, the Alaska Range along the Richardson Highway can be very frustrating when it comes to muscle powered recreation. Of course, this is a very dynamic and quickly changing landscape, so it’s hard to give exact directions. Via White Princess Branch  This route was the best route for many years but the crack free path seems to be getting narrower and narrower. Location. And then there are the bigger critters - Grizz! Salcha-Delta Soil & Water Conservation District. The four met up while making their way to their destinations. They chew up anything not made of metal. The Dnigi Hut sits below imposing buttresses that rise 1,800 feet above the door, with the Mint Spires soaring impressively just across the valley. The summer water sources are creeks E of the hut. They are available on a first come first serve basis and the doors are unlocked. Via Direct Assault  The shortest steepest way with the least crevasse danger. Castner Glacier from Mapcarta, the free map. Since the hut has been abandoned at times the furnishings are sparten but there is a log book, Coleman stove, Coleman lantern, snow pail, a few pots, etc. Pick your way through crevasses to get off the glacier and climb up to the bench diagonaling to the right. NW of Paxson, Alaska Range. My trip to the Castner Glacier was unexpected and short, but provided an interesting perspective on something I had yet to witness in person. This won’t be a problem for a spring ski trip or maybe a late fall hike, after the water level has dropped. The Canwell Glacier has crevasses and moulons in the vicinity of the MacKeith Hut. 3.1 Geomorphic map of the Castner Glacier terminus 27 3.2 Unit QPg 10Be ages 29 3.3 South lateral moraine of Castner Glacier 32 3.4 Modern and past total area and ELA of the Castner Glacier 36 3.5 JJA and annual accumulation relationships of 70 alpine glaciers 37 4.1 Age of unit QPg with NGIP and GISP2 ice core 8180 records 42 It’s my new favorite thing to eat in the morning when camping. The hut has been named the Thayer Memorial Hut in honor of Elton Thayer, a founder of the club who was killed on a traverse of Mount McKinley in 1954. The hut is also located by the second major drainage in the ridge between the Fels and Canwell Glacier, but there are a couple of minor drainages. Just past Salamanca, inside the northern park boundary and at the top of the first hill, Art Roscoe deserves a more prominent reputation. Travel upon the glacier is not recommended. Historical Weather. Wire mesh has been buried around the perimeter and various measures taken to exclude, repel, and even kill the critters. It is critical where you go up the steeper section of the glacier because once you crest the hill you will either hit the crevasse free path or hit crevasses. Trail type: Indistinct route on top of a glacier. 4 to 8+ hours. Head towards Item Peak. Claw marks are visible on the exterior sheeting. It’s best to stay off the ice unless you know what you’re doing. The hut is clearly visible from up glacier appearing silver as it is clad in aluminum. The tiny A-frame structure sits atop a large moraine, perhaps 400 feet above the ice, and after another hour of crossing through the crevasse fields and climbing the talus we reach the hut and enter. Parking Lot Elevation. 7.8 Miles winter/summer. October 24, 2020 Update: The ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is currently accessible and should remain accessible throughout winter. Castner Glacier is a glacier in Alaska and has an elevation of 3287 feet. The route used to be accessed from the south side of Castner Creek, but glacier recession has left a raging river between this access point and any accessible portion of the glacier. The caves often reach far back and are sculpted in inconceivable ways. To get to it, you drive north of Glenallen, passing Paxson. The hut is left of the first set of crevasses along the N margin of the glacier. ... you can follow the glacier back 7.8 miles to reach the Alaska Alpine Club Thayer Hut. Castner Glacier is a beautiful trek in the fall. 10.7 Miles (summer) / 12.2 Miles (winter), 2600 Feet Elevation Gain (summer) / 3000 Feet Elevation Gain (winter), 5 to 8+ hours (summer) / 7 to 12+ hours (winter). Another problem was that the hut tended to get buried by snow making it hard to get inside. The hut is well equipped with stove, lantern, pots, bowls, etc. The 2001 - 2003 efforts involved more attempts to exclude them by installing a steel door, burying more wire mesh around the perimeter and tightly stacking rocks. You will have to cross a moraine and deal with a messy zone as you approach the nose. As above, head directly to the nose between the Silvertip and White Princess Branches. Join a 3 day backcountry hut hike to Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park - see Glacier's star studded skies, no heavy pack required! The hut is on the N side of the glacier just beyond the first major glacier that enters the N side. From the edge of the meadow you can see the pond down below. The hut is located at Mary's Rock, about 8 miles up Castner Glacier. It makes an excellent basecamp for explorations north over the obvious pass at the head of Moose Creek, which threads between more glaciers before dropping into the remote headwaters of Kashwitna River. In the northern part of the range, frequent winds blow the snow into an alternating succession of drifts and bare ground, which can be endlessly frustrating on skis or snowshoes, or on a snowmachine for that matter. As you head up glacier from the Lower Canwell Hut you will be traveling beside a prominent medial moraine. ). At the point where a branch of the glacier heads off to the right, drop down onto bare ice on the left and aim for the ridge which separates the other two branches of the glacier. In this case, the south side of the creek has provided better access in recent years, but this is always changing. A final landmark is a set of dramatic gullies in the lateral moraine just up glacier from the hut. There is a reliable pond W of the hut. To reach the lower hut, travel about 2 miles up glacier, including the crossing of a medial moraine, and then clamber up unstable slopes to the meadow where the hut is located, at 4200 feet, to the left of a stream. When past the worst of the broken up area cut back to the slope below the hut. But, the biggest problem with the Lower Canwell Hut quickly became parky squirrels. This the AAC Thayer Hut located on the northeast buttress directly north of the south branch of the Castner glacier. Castner glacier is rapidly receding and as it melts has created many stunning and several exceptional ice caves. At this rate of melting, the Castner Glacier, like many of its neighbors, could disappear within 50 years. Considerations: Route generally sees heavy use in late winter. There are water canyons and moulons in the ice tongues and crevasses just up glacier from the hut. Rugged glacier hiking adventure in the Alaska Range. What a change in 4 months! It is visible from various locations of lower elevation on the upper Castner glacier. 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 … Here are some stats on the hut: Elevation: 4,800ft Location: N63 27.156 W145 32.181 Gain from start to finish: 2,417 ft Time from car to hut: 4-8+ hours We were probably close to the 8 side of that estimate. (Glacier cave is probably a better term, technically speaking). In clear weather the shiny aluminum siding is visible from the glacier. Parties may need to be roped up to safely get to the hut. Sights. From Delta, drive about 50 miles south along the Richardson. The glacier in the vicinity of the hut has two ice tongues, separated by a moraine. Great minds worked to solve these problems in the next 2 huts. In the early 1990s, a pair of spring-breakers from Fairbanks deserted their tent on Castner Glacier within view of the meadow and hightailed it back to the highway when they encountered bitter cold (of the forty-below-zero variety), and several hut visitors expressed concern and posited humorous theories in the log about the mystery tent until a team came to retrieve it. In the summer head for the apartment building sized red cliff. Trail type: Indistinct route on top of a glacier, Considerations: A very challenging route for experienced hikers. During the winter there is snow to melt for water and in the spring there is a little creek running past the hut. As you stand there in the chill of the cave and stare into the crystal-clear ice, it is impossible to grasp it all! 2417 Feet Elevation Gain. The MSR Hubba Hubba on the Castner Glacier moraine Day 2. For hut registration, contact the Alpine Club of Canada (403-678-3200) Asulkan Cabin A. O. Wheeler Hut The upper hut is located about 10.5 miles from the road, including 8 miles of glacier travel. And, to solve the deep snow access problem (and provide ventilation) a 2 foot by 2 foot hatch was built into the roof. Pick a route up the steep slope directly to the hut bench. We exited the glacier half a mile downhill from where we began, through thick glacial mud the consistency of quicksand, but luckily only deep enough to cover the tops of our boots. But for now, it’s one of the most stunning and easily accessed glacier basins in all of Alaska. The Thayer Memorial Hut, eight miles up the Castner Glacier, was completed, and an emergency supply of food and fuel is now maintained there. The hut was built in an Eielson Air Force Base hanger, driven down the Richardson Highway, and slung in by military helicopter. Eventually, all trace of the road disappears and the way becomes a faint path alongside roaring Castner Creek. A good landmark is the Gulkana Glacier pass as the hut is slightly down glacier from a point directly across from the pass. south of Delta Junction, Alaska. Once out of site of the highway, there are at least two really good spots for car camping. Forty years of use has accumulated lots of stuff including a big library. Club members went up and replaced the snow with rocks  but one corner is over soft soils that persisted in going down despite several attempts to level the floor. The Alaska Alpine Club maintains three glacier huts in the Delta Range — the Thayer Hut on the Castner Glacier and the Lower Canwell and MacKeith huts on the Canwell Glacier. A bear broke in through the window in 2002 so the new window is trimmed with spikes. Castner Glacier 04/14/14. There’s no particular destination here, unless you’re heading for the ice caves which sometimes form at the toe of the glacier. Before the bridge over Castner Creek, look for a small, unimproved road on the left. The Castner Glacier Trail begins at Castner Creek near Paxson, Alaska. The wind exposed location prevented deep snow from accumulating so the hatch was unnecessary. The hut tends to feel cramped due to the steep A frame design. Introduction to Ski Mountaineering Clinic. To get to the Thayer Hut use the Castner Glacier access (page 10) and stay on the right hand moraine until you see an ice tongue on your left. Turn right along the edge of the White Princess Branch until you are past the cliff bands. If you split the glacier valley in half you want to start up right of center until you are over the steep section and have gone well past the hut and the crevassed zones on both sides. A hike up Castner Glacier is honestly a pretty rough experience, but it still offers a brush free and gently ascending highway into the heart of the spectacular glacier clad Delta Mountains, as well as a small … Via Direct Assault + White Princess Branch (The authors current favorite route.) A 1/2 mile hike leads you to the Castner Glacier. To get to the hut use the Red Rock Canyon access in the summer or the Lower Miller Creek access in the winter. The flat roof and hatch caused water leakage problems and eventually the hatch was eliminated. This unimproved road is located at mile 217.3 on the north side of Castner Creek. With a low clearance vehicle, park along the highway and walk this road. Pick your way, angling south across the glacier to pick up what’s left of the old access path, which ascended up a sort of medial moraine on top of the glacier. The view from the top makes a good turnaround for a short walk. You will have to cross a moraine and deal with a messy zone as you approach the nose. Watch for moulons! And the lower walls on the inside were covered with aluminum. The entire floor was covered with aluminum sheets and then plywood installed over the aluminum. Later in the summer club members packed in the first 2 X 4s to begin construction. With no snow it is scary climbing on steep mud. Distance. Lauren Frisch and Daisy Tada! But only one corner was sitting on rock, the other corners were on snow. But the third problem, global warming, is harder to solve. 4800 feet. The drive from Anchorage takes 4 hours and 57 minutes and follows a paved road the entire time. The hut is about 1 mile up glacier from the terminus of the shorter, northern ice tongue. N 63° 27.156’ W 145° 32.181’. A route may also be selected based on where the party plans to go from the hut. To approach the base, hike up the rock covered glacier for several miles until you're on bare ice at around 4000 to 4500 feet. During the next 4 years over 100 loads of building materials were hauled on climber's backs and the hut was ready for use. The hut fee is $1 per person per night. About heads on White Princess, trends NW and SW to its 1934 terminus at head of Castner Creek, 27 mi. 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 … When this moraine turns from a high mound to scattered rocks you are about half way to the hut. To give more room the 12 foot by 12 foot A frame design was modified by making the walls more vertical and having a 4 foot wide flat roof. The hut elevation is some 500 feet below both the pass to the Gulkana Glacier and Yeti Pass. I ate a Mountain House Breakfast Skillet. Roughly a mile from the highway, the footpath climbs steeply up a small moraine hill. By the time this hut was built the AAC had resolved many of the design problems with the earlier huts. There is no trash service nor maid service so please leave the huts in good shape. Photographer Sebastian Saarloos wrote of his astonishing July 2011 photo, "After traversing up a glacier moraine for what seems like an eternity, and going up over 2,400 feet of vertical gain, you finally reach a … The route gains the most altitude on the glacier which minimizes the final steep slope. 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. The central ice tongue extends further down glacier. Considerations: Glaciers can be dangerous. The large ice chunks in front of the ice cave have completely melted in the 08/24 photo. In the southern part of the range, the snow is heavy and relatively little recreational use makes breaking trail through the bottomless powder a chore. Drive as far as you’re comfortable and start walking. The sky cleared overnight and the views in the morning were incredible. Access to these three huts is arduous and, in the cases of Sapphire Col and Glacier Circle huts, requires mountaineering expertise. Details. Considerations: A very challenging route for experienced hikers. The hut is only partly visible when coming up glacier as it sits behind a mound. 2495 ft. The summer of 2017 started with yet another long drive from Utah to Alaska. For example if Black Cap is the objective the White Princess Branch route might be selected. There have been at least 4 major efforts to save the hut from the varmints. Avoiding likely moulin areas, go up the ice tongue until you reach the intersection of the 3 branches of the Castner Glacier. The hut is now varmint free and in good shape. It's located at milepost 217.3 on the Richardson Highway.
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