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