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Glacial Alaska

The Castner Glacier proved a picturesque teaching ground for glacial terminology. Photos by Katie Herrell
Check out the full report on Alaska on our frequently updated trip page.
  • The 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier is billed as the "largest glacier accesible by car in Alaska." This photo was taken from the Glenn Highway.
  • A minor crevasse on the Castner Glacier. We found crampons helpful but not necessary on this stretch. Larger crevasses crisscrossed the upper glacier icefield.
  • Glacial streams were a perfect water source along the Castner Glacier. This was a particularly large one.
  • In late August, when this shot was taken, the Castner Glacier was ready for a fresh coat of snow.
  • The amount of erosion, dirt, and vegetation visible on the lower morraine of all the alpine glaciers we visited in Alaska amazed us.
  • But a certain amount of dirt and rocks helped us securely fasten a tent at glacier's edge.
  • The glacier edge looked truly perilous when viewed from this angle.
  • Small-to-medium piles called "dirt cones" dotted the glaciers; what you can't see is that the dirt actually covers an ice mound.
  • Varied terrain made moraine travel surprisingly treacherous. We had to choose our "lines" very carefully to avoid getting trapped on aretes (narrow ridges) or in cirques (bowls).
  • To get to this vantage point, we climbed up a relatively steep and rocky slope. Years ago, this ledge was directly accessible from the Castner icefield.
  • This tarn, or small lake, was not easy to get to but it was a reliable water source.
  • Here you can see the Castner glacial toe and moraines.
  • Sunsets and sunrises were stunning when situated within a glacial ampitheatre.
The 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier is billed as the "largest glacier accesible by car in Alaska." This photo was taken from the Glenn Highway.
Image 1 of 13

The 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier is billed as the "largest glacier accesible by car in Alaska." This photo was taken from the Glenn Highway.

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