Although summer temperatures in Alaska are warm, it is still very, very cold on the the glaciers.
Packing for a leisurely summer Alaskan Cruise is different than packing for an adventure like glacier trekking and glacier climbing!
For ice climbing and ice hiking, you will need professional gear and equipment.
To get to the Mendenhall Glacier, you need to take a helicopter over the Tongass National Forest.
Here is the gear & equipment for glacier climbing you will need to pack into your suitcases.
Some gear and equipment you may be able to rent from the tour company, so be sure to check ahead of time to save you from heavy-duty packing – and heavy-duty expenses of buying gear & equipment!
Make sure you have a pair of thick and warm boots. Warm snow boots are the basic gear equipment for glacier climbing.
Even in summer, the temperature of the icefield is very low, so the usual fashion boots can’t keep your feet warm.
You need a pair of warm boots that will protect your feet from freezing; otherwise, the temperature can make your feet impossible to move.
Even with regular rock climbing, you may need a climbing harness. It’s ice climbing! You will have a professional instructor with you, but it might be the first time you climb an ice wall almost vertically!
The climbing harness provides the most basic security. Choose a high-quality harness, and you’ll feel better when climbing.
Waterproof Snow Gaiters
They’re incredibly useful. The gaiters keep your boots and pants tightly together, preventing snow, moisture, or trash ice from getting into your clothes through the gap between them.
When the snow and crushed ice get into your boots, they turn to ice water and wet your clothes. You’ll feel cold, and your feet or legs may freeze.
Glacier Ice Axe
The ice axe is vital. It will definitely be your best helper on the journey.
An ice axe is like a climber’s extended arm, which helps the climber stay more firmly on the ice wall. An ice axe can also be used as a walking stick for climbing up and down mountains, to maintain the climber’s balance when you walk on icy slopes.
You can choose your ice axe according to your hand shape, strength, grip and preference.
When I arrived on Mendenhall Glacier, there was a sleet storm (in the summer), and the water and ice was brutal! It cleared up fairly soon, and we had a great afternoon hike and climb!
There may be a small amount of melting snow in the summer as water drips down at the icefield. When you’re facing sudden rains near a glacier, pack a waterproof coat and overalls in your backpack in summer.
Rain gear is waterproof and prevent the water from soaking the clothes and taking away the body temperature. Especially if you’re climbing the ice, the ice at the top of the ice wall may melt and become water to fall.
The Omni-heat baselayer clothing absorbs sweat and gives off heat, which keeps your body dry. Even though you’re ice-climbing in a cold environment, the intense exercise makes you sweat.
Clothes that don’t absorb sweat will drain your body temperature and make you feel cold. This Omni-heating garment will keep your body warm when worn underneath.
Not only for keeping warm, but waterproof gloves also reduce friction between the skin and the ice axe. Whether wielding an ice axe while climbing the ice wall or using it while hiking on a glacier, lack of good gloves can cause skin friction due to unskilled use.
Heating wraps use galvanic cells to speed up the oxidation reaction and convert chemical energy into heat energy.
During use, the outer bag is removed, and the inner non-woven fabric is exposed to the air. Oxygen from the air enters through the breathable membrane. The heat starts to come out.
You can feel the heat by placing a warm piece on the base layer. But never directly put it on your skin, it may lead to low-temperature scald.
It is generally not recommended to carry a particularly large backpack and pack a lot of things in it for such intensive trips with helicopter rides. A heavy backpack can become a burden.
If you have a smaller waterproof backpack, it can protect your cell phone, camera and food in it.
There’s nothing happy like having a sip of hot water or tea on a cold day. The thermos cup keeps the hot water or tea at a constant temperature for a long time. Not only does it maintain heat, but it can also keep a steady cold temperature.
A vacuum bottle is versatile, as you can fill with cold water or sports drinks to give you a cold drink in the hot summer.
Thank goodness we brought our energy bars with us glacier hiking! You work up a bit of an appetite!
Energy bars are the best food to replenish your energy quickly in a short time. Also, you don’t have to worry about them getting cold. They’re very portable, even without a backpack, you can still put a small energy bar in your pocket and recharge at any time.
Professional glacier sunglasses are necessary. The ice and snow reflect about 95 percent of sunlight, so looking directly at the surface of the ice and snow is almost the same as looking directly at the sun.
A long time looking at icefield can lead to photokeratitis, a condition of temporary blindness.
You need a pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, and you need the following glasses:
- Red and orange lenses to reduce the intensity of the sun on sunny days, and to ensure clear vision on cloudy days.
- Transparent and yellow lenses to clearly see the concave and convex of the ice and snow surface.
- A silver-grey lens can help you see more clearly on a clear day.
In addition to the above gear and equipment suggestions, you may need crampons, helmets, ropes, seatbelts, descenders, and more gear equipment for glacier climbing.
For a one-time ice-climber, a complete set of gear is expensive, so be sure to ask your tour company about renting gear and equipment.