Wrangell-St. Elias: Scenic Overflights

July 31, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

With our backpacking trip into Donoho Basin complete and our trip into Bremner Mining Camp a few days out, we thought a couple scenic overflights were in order. It’s amazing what we saw up there. I think I am forever ruined about what will excite me in the future. I can’t remember the last time I felt so blown away by what I was seeing. Oh wait, yes I can. It was in Denali looking at the Mountain. Alaska is awesome. The first flight we would head south to the Tana River, to the Tana Glacier, Bagley Icefield, and Icy Bay before heading back along Baldwin and Chitina Glaciers. It was roughly 350 air miles.

Screen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.13.55 AMScreen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.13.55 AM Nizina River and Kennicott River ConfluenceNizina River and Kennicott River Confluence Granite Creek TarnGranite Creek Tarn West Fork of the Tana RiverWest Fork of the Tana River Approaching the Tana GlacierApproaching the Tana Glacier Unnamed Tributary Glacier Near Tana Glacier TerminusUnnamed Tributary Glacier Near Tana Glacier Terminus Western Tributary Tana Glacier (2)Western Tributary Tana Glacier (2) Bagley Icefielf and Waxell RidgeBagley Icefielf and Waxell Ridge Bering Glacier Looking SouthwestBering Glacier Looking Southwest Barkley Ridge Along Bagley IcefieldBarkley Ridge Along Bagley Icefield Barkley Ridge Along Bagley Icefield (3)Barkley Ridge Along Bagley Icefield (3) Guyot GlacierGuyot Glacier Guyot Glacier and Icy Bay (3)Guyot Glacier and Icy Bay (3) Guyot Glacier, Falls, Icy Bay, and Mount St. EliasGuyot Glacier, Falls, Icy Bay, and Mount St. Elias Robinson Mountains and Guyot GlacierRobinson Mountains and Guyot Glacier Robinson Mountains and Guyot Glacier (2)Robinson Mountains and Guyot Glacier (2) Guyot Hills, Guyot Glacier, Icy Bay, and Mount St. EliasGuyot Hills, Guyot Glacier, Icy Bay, and Mount St. Elias Guyot Hills, Icy Bay, and Mount St. Elias (2)Guyot Hills, Icy Bay, and Mount St. Elias (2) Guyot Glacier CrevassesGuyot Glacier Crevasses Icy Bay, Tyndall Glacier, and Mount St. Elias (2)Icy Bay, Tyndall Glacier, and Mount St. Elias (2) Chaix HillsChaix Hills Agassiz LakesAgassiz Lakes Mount St. EliasMount St. Elias Mount St. Elias (2)Mount St. Elias (2) Columbus GlacierColumbus Glacier Fraser Glacier TributaryFraser Glacier Tributary Fraser GlacierFraser Glacier Baldwin Glacier and Fraser Glacier Confluence (3)Baldwin Glacier and Fraser Glacier Confluence (3) Tributary Glacier of Baldwin GlacierTributary Glacier of Baldwin Glacier Logan Glacier and Walsh Glacier Confluence (2)Logan Glacier and Walsh Glacier Confluence (2) Mount Chitina and Logan GlacierMount Chitina and Logan Glacier Mount Chitina and Logan Glacier (4)Mount Chitina and Logan Glacier (4) Chitina GlacierChitina Glacier Chitina Glacier (3)Chitina Glacier (3) Barnard Glacier (3)Barnard Glacier (3) Unnamed Eastern Tributary Glacier to Hawkins GlacierUnnamed Eastern Tributary Glacier to Hawkins Glacier Hawkins Glacier HeadHawkins Glacier Head West side of Hawkins GlacierWest side of Hawkins Glacier Pyramid Peak and RainbowPyramid Peak and Rainbow Pyramid Peak Western FlankPyramid Peak Western Flank Nizina River and Chitistone River ConfluenceNizina River and Chitistone River Confluence Stairway Icefall (2)Stairway Icefall (2) Donoho PeakDonoho Peak Gates Glacier and Kennicott Glacier ConfluenceGates Glacier and Kennicott Glacier Confluence

After landing and grabbing lunch we headed back up in the air and out towards Tebay Lakes, the Bremner River, Fan Glacier, then north past the Chitina River to Hidden Creek and the Kennicott Glacier. This flight was about 185 air miles.

Screen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.18.12 AMScreen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.18.12 AM Chitina River Below the Nizina River ConfluenceChitina River Below the Nizina River Confluence Tebay River and Lower Tebay LakeTebay River and Lower Tebay Lake Lower Tebay Lake (2)Lower Tebay Lake (2) Falls Creek (2)Falls Creek (2) Little Bremner Glacier, Little Bremner River, and Tebay Falls (2)Little Bremner Glacier, Little Bremner River, and Tebay Falls (2) Tebay Lakes (2)Tebay Lakes (2) Little Bremner Glacier South ArmLittle Bremner Glacier South Arm Bremner River (3)Bremner River (3) Fan Glacier (2)Fan Glacier (2) Southern Tributary Klu RiverSouthern Tributary Klu River Klu RIverKlu RIver Steamboat CreekSteamboat Creek Chitina River Below the Nizina River and Chakina River ConfluencesChitina River Below the Nizina River and Chakina River Confluences Fireweed Mountain and Lakina RiverFireweed Mountain and Lakina River Lakina Glacier TributaryLakina Glacier Tributary Hidden CreekHidden Creek Geology Hidden Creek Drainage (2)Geology Hidden Creek Drainage (2) Lakina Glacier Tributary (2)Lakina Glacier Tributary (2) Kennicott Glacier Medial MorainesKennicott Glacier Medial Moraines Kennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek ValleyKennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek Valley Kennicott Glacier TerminusKennicott Glacier Terminus

After this flight, we headed into the backcountry for our Bremner Mining Camp trip. Also, great trip and weather. After that trip, the weather made a turn for the worse and we were worried that if we did another air-supported backcountry trip, we might get stuck and not make our flight back home from Anchorage. So we called an audible and decided to hang around McCarthy and do one last scenic flight. The weather was a little iffy, but since we didn’t have a particular agenda for this flight we were able to seek out the good weather. We went up the Nizina River to the Nizina, Federika, and Russel Glaciers via Skolai pass and then over to the Bonanza Ridge area including the Stairway Icefall, Root/Gates/Kennicott glaciers. The lighting wasn’t as spectacular as the other flights, but it was still a good opportunity to shoot some other areas of the park we had yet to see. It was also about 185 air miles.

Screen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.15.54 AMScreen Shot 2023-12-31 at 8.15.54 AM Nizina RiverNizina River Unnamed Falls on the Nizini RiverUnnamed Falls on the Nizini River Iceberg Lake at the Nizina Glacier ToeIceberg Lake at the Nizina Glacier Toe Nizina Glacier Crevasses (2)Nizina Glacier Crevasses (2) Rohn Glacier Looking Up ValleyRohn Glacier Looking Up Valley Rohn Glacier Looking Down Valley (2)Rohn Glacier Looking Down Valley (2) Unnamed Rohn Glacier Tributary Looking Down ValleyUnnamed Rohn Glacier Tributary Looking Down Valley Skolai Pass AreaSkolai Pass Area Skolai CreekSkolai Creek Russell GlacierRussell Glacier Russell Glacier TerminusRussell Glacier Terminus Russell Glacier Terminus and Wiley CreekRussell Glacier Terminus and Wiley Creek Skolai Creek (2)Skolai Creek (2) Nizina Glacier - Confluence of Rohn and Regal GlaciersNizina Glacier - Confluence of Rohn and Regal Glaciers Nizina Glacier and RiverNizina Glacier and River Nizina River and Mile High CliffsNizina River and Mile High Cliffs West Fork of the Nizina RiverWest Fork of the Nizina River Mile High Cliffs GeologyMile High Cliffs Geology Bonanza Mine TrailBonanza Mine Trail Jumbo MineJumbo Mine Bonanza Ridge and Errie MineBonanza Ridge and Errie Mine Root Glacier OgivesRoot Glacier Ogives Donoho Peak Colors (2)Donoho Peak Colors (2) Upper Gates GlacierUpper Gates Glacier Packsaddle IslandPacksaddle Island La Chapelle Glacier CrevassesLa Chapelle Glacier Crevasses Kennicott GlacierKennicott Glacier Kennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek ValleyKennicott Glacier and Hidden Creek Valley Kennicott Glacier above Confluence with Root GlacierKennicott Glacier above Confluence with Root Glacier

I mentioned earlier that we were also supposed to hit Skolai Pass area for backpacking. I didn’t really know what I was missing until this flight. If you go to Wrangell for a fly-in trip, Skolai is like a mini Switzerland. If I get the chance to go back I hope that I can get a few days in that area.

After that flight our trip was pretty much over. We headed back to Anchorage to drop off the car. Then we headed out for some celebratory drinks. On my 3rd beer I felt REALLY tipsy, even sitting down. I looked at my drink and thought to myself, I better slow down here a little. Then I looked up and realized that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. It wasn’t the alcohol making me feel tipsy, but rather we were in the middle of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The ENTIRE building was shaking and people started standing up. Apparently that is a thing? After that we headed out to dinner and had a few more drinks before calling it a night to make our early flights the next morning.

Overall I shot around 6500 photos in 10 days pairing that down to about 500. The majority of those shots came during the scenic flights. It was totally amazing to see this park from the air. You lose all sense of scale when you are up there. Mountains that look close enough to crash into are a quarter mile away. Icebergs the size of houses are just dots in the bay. It’s the only way to really “see” the majority of the park. It’s a wild and untamed place. You could take any individual feature from this park whether it’s a mountain, waterfall, glacier, lake, etc. and place it in the lower 48 and it would be its own National Park. But here, it’s just another unnamed feature. Alaska really is the last frontier. It’s so freaking big and majestic that you can’t help but be humbled by it.

Cheers and happy travels!


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