Although I travelled to Alaska to fulfill my goal to run a full marathon, when planning the trip it was ice climbing I found myself all excited about.  Woke early and hit the road – destination: Matanuska Glacier near Chickaloon, AK.

Matanuska Glacier is a valley glacier in the US state of Alaska. At 27 miles (43 km) long by 4 miles (6.4 km) wide, it is the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. Its terminus is the source of the Matanuska River. It lies near the Glenn Highway about 100 miles (160 km) north-east of Anchorage. Matanuska Glacier flows about 1 foot (30 cm) per day.

Thought I was super smart bringing my GPS (Garmin) to navigate across Alaska.  Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas – but no Alaska.  Who knew?  Plan B – used the rental car map which took me as far as Eagle River (approx 20 minutes east of Anchorage).  From there I watched for road signs.  And in Palmer, I used my iPhone maps app to re-position on Old Glenn Highway heading northeast – not Glen Highway heading northwest to Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin – and no, I could not see Russia :)).

No traffic, no humans, hit or miss cell reception, one moose.

Arrived almost an hour early (thank you midnight sun for the early wake-up call), and geared up.  Shared the day with Mason, Tonya & Gage from Seattle, Mark from Alaska, and Chris (our guide).

The landscape mirrored walking the moon’s surface until we reached Matanuska Glacier.  Gray silt permafrost merged vivid turquoise blue – quite the contrast.  Amazing, beautiful, breathtaking!

Listened for a voiced ‘belay on’ – then one after another we climbed.

Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far.  Climbers should wait for a verbal confirmation from the belayer that he is ready to begin.  In the US, usually the climber asks, “On belay?” or “Belay?” and wait for the belayer to reply “Belay on.”

Will 1000% do this again – LOVE LOVE this sport!

Boots, gloves, ropes, crampons – my kinda gear used in my kinda weather.  River ice (what we have in Colorado) is not as stable as glacial ice but still gonna climb this winter.  I’m hooked – LOVED it!

 

 

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