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Even more so than in summer, the Alaska Range along the Richardson Highway can be very frustrating when it comes to muscle powered recreation. From here there are four options, one of which will be the best route for the current glacier conditions. 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. 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. You will have to cross a moraine and deal with a messy zone as you approach the nose. Simon Filhol, Eyal Saiet, Jenna Zechmann hiked up the glacier to the MacKeith Hut so they could help level the backcountry shelter. ADVERTISEMENT. For hut registration, contact the Alpine Club of Canada (403-678-3200) Asulkan Cabin A. O. Wheeler Hut 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. The drive from Anchorage takes 4 hours and 57 minutes and follows a paved road the entire time. 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. 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 hut is well equipped with stove, lantern, pots, bowls, etc. 7.8 Miles winter/summer. Below are weather averages from 1971 to 2000 according to data gathered from the nearest official weather station. Summer Off-Trail Hikes. 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. 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. 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 … Head directly to the nose between the Silvertip and White Princess Branches of the Castner Glacier. Pick a route up the steep slope directly to the hut bench. Castner glacier is rapidly receding and as it melts has created many stunning and several exceptional ice caves. (Glacier cave is probably a better term, technically speaking). 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. 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. The flat roof and hatch caused water leakage problems and eventually the hatch was eliminated. The walls were re-insulated with foam boards - they devoured it. This is Thayer Hut on the Castner Glacier just north of the Canwell Glacier. What a change in 4 months! Roughly a mile from the highway, the footpath climbs steeply up a small moraine hill. You will have to cross a moraine and deal with a messy zone as you approach the nose. Turn right along the edge of the White Princess Branch until you are past the cliff bands. In cloudy weather there are features that might help you find the hut. They chew up anything not made of metal. There are water canyons and moulons in the ice tongues and crevasses just up glacier from the hut. 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. The road ends after 1/2 mile, turning into an unimproved foot path heading up the side of Castner Creek. The four met up while making their way to their destinations. 1380 Feet Elevation Gain (summer) / 1700 Feet Elevation Gain (winter), 3 to 6+ hours (summer) / 4 to 8+ hours (winter). Claw marks are visible on the exterior sheeting. 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). They chewed those up with abandon. 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). Castner Glacier a glacier in Alaska. There’s no particular destination here, unless you’re heading for the ice caves which sometimes form at the toe of the glacier. 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. Another problem was that the hut tended to get buried by snow making it hard to get inside. Considerations: A very challenging route for experienced hikers. Salcha-Delta Soil & Water Conservation District. Using a gothic arch shape they achieved a spacious feel with no flat roof. October 24, 2020 Update: The ice cave at the front of Castner Glacier is currently accessible and should remain accessible throughout winter. In this case, the south side of the creek has provided better access in recent years, but this is always changing. Access to these three huts is arduous and, in the cases of Sapphire Col and Glacier Circle huts, requires mountaineering expertise. Introduction to Ski Mountaineering Clinic. The Castner glacier eventually emerges on your right. The Canwell Glacier has crevasses and moulons in the vicinity of the MacKeith Hut. 2417 Feet Elevation Gain. 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 MSR Hubba Hubba on the Castner Glacier moraine Day 2. The hut is about 1 mile up glacier from the terminus of the shorter, northern ice tongue. Later in the summer club members packed in the first 2 X 4s to begin construction. 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. 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. There are not many options except the hut location. I ate a Mountain House Breakfast Skillet. The Alaska Alpine Club maintains three huts in the Delta Range. The caves often reach far back and are sculpted in inconceivable ways. The hut is clearly visible from up glacier appearing silver as it is clad in aluminum. 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. It is visible from various locations of lower elevation on the upper Castner glacier. It’s my new favorite thing to eat in the morning when camping. It’s best to stay off the ice unless you know what you’re doing. Considerations: Route generally sees heavy use in late winter. The summer water sources are creeks E of the hut. A site was selected about 16 miles up the glacier but the pilots balked and put the hut down about 12 miles up glacier. 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. During the winter there is snow to melt for water and in the spring there is a little creek running past the hut. 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 … By the time this hut was built the AAC had resolved many of the design problems with the earlier huts. The hut fee is $1 per person per night. Traverse down to the ice tongue. This won’t be a problem for a spring ski trip or maybe a late fall hike, after the water level has dropped. To get to the hut use the Red Rock Canyon access in the summer or the Lower Miller Creek access in the winter. The hut is only partly visible when coming up glacier as it sits behind a mound. It has remained there ever since. As above, head directly to the nose between the Silvertip and White Princess Branches. 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. The log book makes for great reading. Eventually, all trace of the road disappears and the way becomes a faint path alongside roaring Castner Creek. Parties may need to be roped up to safely get to the hut. A 1/2 mile hike leads you to the Castner Glacier. With good snow conditions this can be simple cramponing up Styrofoam snow. Ascend grunge slope to the hut bench. When this moraine turns from a high mound to scattered rocks you are about half way to the hut. Of course, this is a very dynamic and quickly changing landscape, so it’s hard to give exact directions. It's located at milepost 217.3 on the Richardson Highway. Parties have been avalanched off this slope. As you head up glacier from the Lower Canwell Hut you will be traveling beside a prominent medial moraine. Watch for moulons! 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. Castner Glacier 04/14/14. ... you can follow the glacier back 7.8 miles to reach the Alaska Alpine Club Thayer Hut. About 2.2 miles roundtrip. 12 miles long. In clear weather the shiny aluminum siding is visible from the glacier. Get off the glacier and climb the final slope. Jeremiah Harrington walks up the Castner Glacier during a camping trip during the Labor Day holiday. There is a reliable pond W of the hut. Trail type: Indistinct route on top of a glacier, Considerations: A very challenging route for experienced hikers. Pick your way through crevasses to get off the glacier and climb up to the bench diagonaling to the right. 2495 ft. This hut was built by the Alaska Alpine Club in the early 60's. 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. The route gains the most altitude on the glacier which minimizes the final steep slope. 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 12-foot, A-frame hut was carried in and erected eight miles up the Castner Glacier at the Princess branch. Avoiding likely moulin areas, go up the ice tongue until you reach the intersection of the 3 branches of the Castner Glacier. There are rumors of up to 10 people stuffed in for a night. But for now, it’s one of the most stunning and easily accessed glacier basins in all of Alaska. 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. 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. Lauren Frisch and Daisy Tada! But only one corner was sitting on rock, the other corners were on snow. Via Direct Assault  The shortest steepest way with the least crevasse danger. With a low clearance vehicle, park along the highway and walk this road. 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 unimproved road is located at mile 217.3 on the north side of Castner Creek. Distance: 16.4 miles round trip to hut. The steep walls of the hut are a notebook for every climber and skier that has entered this cirque for the last 49 years. 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. 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 … Start up the White Princess branch. The hike to the glacier’s face follows Castner Creek; the creek is fast-flowing, brown, and fed by the melting glacier. 4 to 8+ hours. Wire mesh has been buried around the perimeter and various measures taken to exclude, repel, and even kill the critters. With care and local knowledge many people have gotten to the hut without a rope but there are hazards. Great minds worked to solve these problems in the next 2 huts. 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. Parking Lot Elevation. Rugged glacier hiking adventure in the Alaska Range. The glacier in the vicinity of the hut has two ice tongues, separated by a moraine. And the lower walls on the inside were covered with aluminum. From Delta, drive about 50 miles south along the Richardson. There is a minivan sized rock which parties mistake for the hut (not a bad mistake as the hut is just over the knoll). The hut is located at Mary's Rock, about 8 miles up Castner Glacier. The hut is comfortable and has an interesting collection of things left by past parties. Once out of site of the highway, there are at least two really good spots for car camping. The hut is now varmint free and in good shape. The upper hut is located about 10.5 miles from the road, including 8 miles of glacier travel. With no snow it is scary climbing on steep mud. 4800 feet. When it was first finished in 1964, the Thayer Hut was only 100 feet above ice level; now, it’s 400. In the summer head for the apartment building sized red cliff. Head up either the north or south side of the creek. 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. The bearing from the hut to the pass is 192 degrees. The hut is on the N side of the glacier just beyond the first major glacier that enters the N side. Historical Weather. Distance. The entire bottom of the hut was sheathed in aluminum to keep the critters out. But the third problem, global warming, is harder to solve. The mountains along the Richardson Highway south of Delta are awe inspiring, and a bit daunting when it comes to outdoor recreation. 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. 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. Elevation gain: 3000 feet. ). A good landmark is the Gulkana Glacier pass as the hut is slightly down glacier from a point directly across from the pass. The final slope to the hut is steep enough to avalanche. They are available on a first come first serve basis and the doors are unlocked. The wind exposed location prevented deep snow from accumulating so the hatch was unnecessary. Travel upon the glacier is not recommended. Head towards Item Peak. The hut is left of the first set of crevasses along the N margin of the glacier. And then there are the bigger critters - Grizz! Winter parties should be roped up. The hut is open to climbers using this area, in which several one-day climbs are possible. The hut is 12' by 10' and sleeps 5. Castner Glacier caves, Castner Creek, Alaska Pipeline. N 63° 27.156’ W 145° 32.181’. As you stand there in the chill of the cave and stare into the crystal-clear ice, it is impossible to grasp it all! 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. The Castner Glacier Trail begins at Castner Creek near Paxson, Alaska. The hut tends to feel cramped due to the steep A frame design. The sky cleared overnight and the views in the morning were incredible. 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 frame was assembled on campus then taken apart and hauled up the glacier on people's backs. 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. And, to solve the deep snow access problem (and provide ventilation) a 2 foot by 2 foot hatch was built into the roof. My trip to the Castner Glacier was unexpected and short, but provided an interesting perspective on something I had yet to witness in person. 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. Sights. Castner Glacier is a beautiful trek in the fall. In summer though, it’s best to start on the north side of the creek. To get to it, you drive north of Glenallen, passing Paxson. Via Direct Assault + White Princess Branch (The authors current favorite route.) A route may also be selected based on where the party plans to go from the hut. Hopping across the river of meltwater coming straight out of the Mint Glacier, we made our way back toward the hut. The central ice tongue extends further down glacier. When past the worst of the broken up area cut back to the slope below the hut. Trail type: Indistinct route on top of a glacier. The entire floor was covered with aluminum sheets and then plywood installed over the aluminum. 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 … Castner Glacier from Mapcarta, the free map. When the hut was built the Castner Glacier filled the valley making it easy to get from the glacier to the hut meadow. 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. This the AAC Thayer Hut located on the northeast buttress directly north of the south branch of the Castner glacier. 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 But, the biggest problem with the Lower Canwell Hut quickly became parky squirrels. I used to pack all my own food and snub the use of pre-made, dehydrated backpacking meals. « … 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. south of Delta Junction, Alaska. The hut was built in an Eielson Air Force Base hanger, driven down the Richardson Highway, and slung in by military helicopter. By 1968 another hut site had been selected 7 miles up the Canwell Glacier. Via Silvertip Branch One can also go up the Silvertip Branch, skirting giant moulons, until you pass all the cliff bands. Forty years of use has accumulated lots of stuff including a big library. Before the bridge over Castner Creek, look for a small, unimproved road on the left. The large ice chunks in front of the ice cave have completely melted in the 08/24 photo. 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. Good visibility or a GPS is needed to find the hut. 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. A bear broke in through the window in 2002 so the new window is trimmed with spikes. 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. NW of Paxson, Alaska Range. 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. From the edge of the meadow you can see the pond down below. The view from the top makes a good turnaround for a short walk. In the summer several climbs were made in the Castner Glacier area. In 2006 the hut was leveled with wood cribs and got a new door and windows. A final landmark is a set of dramatic gullies in the lateral moraine just up glacier from the hut. The hut elevation is some 500 feet below both the pass to the Gulkana Glacier and Yeti Pass. At this rate of melting, the Castner Glacier, like many of its neighbors, could disappear within 50 years. For example if Black Cap is the objective the White Princess Branch route might be selected. 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 … But by July or August, Mary's rock is free of snow and the creek dries up. 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. There have been at least 4 major efforts to save the hut from the varmints. This trail is not maintained and not marked. Drive as far as you’re comfortable and start walking. 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. Report hut problems to the Club. 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). Location. 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. 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! There is no trash service nor maid service so please leave the huts in good shape. About heads on White Princess, trends NW and SW to its 1934 terminus at head of Castner Creek, 27 mi. But through the years the glacier has dropped dramatically making the climb up to the hut an arduous and potentially dangerous climb. (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 summer of 2017 started with yet another long drive from Utah to Alaska. Just past Salamanca, inside the northern park boundary and at the top of the first hill, Art Roscoe deserves a more prominent reputation. “It was a beautiful weekend in April. Considerations: Glaciers can be dangerous. Visit us at the Revelstoke Administration Office, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, or contact us for details. Details. Castner Glacier is a glacier in Alaska and has an elevation of 3287 feet. The hut is open to all climbers who visit the …

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