Helicopter Glacier Walk

Juneau, AK

Glacier Walk by way of Helicopter

In late July, I threw down $300+ to book a last-minute helicopter glacier walk with Coastal Helicopters. Blue skies, blue water, sunshine of the non-liquid variety — I couldn’t have picked a better time. 

At the Juneau Airport, bright yellow and black helicopters buzzed and hovered like worker bees. A large group of guests and I locked up our belongings, donned boot covers for traction, watched a safety film and lined up 6x6 by weight. As we boarded our assigned chopper, the whir of the engine tickled the butterflies already flitting in my belly.

Go Time!

Michael, pilot and guide for our our helicopter glacier walk, has the kind of smile that says he absolutely loves this job. After flying past mountains of green, he flew us up, over, and through the Juneau Icefield, further than usual given the crystal clear air. Through our headsets, he told us about the 1500 square mile icefield, home to over 40 large valley glaciers and 100 smaller ones. 

We touched down on Norris Glacier. Micheal noted that he feels this spot is is the prettiest of all possible landings. I have to believe him.

Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK

The Gravity of My Relativity

The engine was stilled and Michael escorted us out. As we walked on that glacier, the enormity of nature’s powerful and beautiful force sprawled for miles around us.  

Moraines of powdery silt to boulders the size of our helicopter (see below) painted the ice in muted golds and blacks. Clear glacial runoff gushed into azure blue fissures that dropped deep below where we stood. 

I felt so small.

Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK

Losing Ground

It’s both awe inspiring and unsettling to stand where a gaping chasm did not exist a week prior. The hole below is the length of my thumb . One just like it turned into that waterfall in just one short week. Science tells us that glaciers are not just in constant motion, but receding at alarming rates. To be riding on the back of one in July’s ever-increasing Alaskan heat is to feel your bones begin to liquify.

The adventure is thrilling, exceptionally beautiful, and it’s also sad to see something so incredible fading so fast, right before your eyes.

Gaining Perspective

It’s hard to understand what we are losing without experiencing it ourselves, a shortcoming of human nature. And, yes, the “going” is part of the problem. But the understanding is monumental once you do.

Before take-off, we drank from the icy runoff, taking in this spectacular place, making it a molecular part of ourselves. As we returned to the lower regions of Earth, our hearts and minds were still miles above, reveling in the beauty found there.

Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK
Helicopter Glacier Walk, Juneau, AK

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know!

6 Comments

  1. bethanne888

    There is still magic in this world. Thank-you for this.

    Reply
    • Kim Clune

      So true, Bethanne. It’s so easy to get mired in the issues of today. Sometimes, it does a soul good just to enjoy.

      Reply
  2. Betsy Seeton

    Absolutely mesmerizing. Such incredible captures. What an adventure you’re having. I would love spending time around bears.

    Reply
    • Kim Clune

      It really IS an adventure. Glad you like the images, Betsy. I’ll have to post my bears soon. They’ve made it as far as Facebook, but I need to put a post together at some point. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kandra

    Such beautiful pictures! You really captured the magnitude and beauty of the glacier! Looks like an amazing trip

    Reply
    • Kim Clune

      Thank you, Kandra! You’ll have to add this excursion as well as the Tracy Arm to your list for the next time you’re in Alaska!

      Reply

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