A selection of new tour offerings from the Alaska Railroad and local guide service Ascending Path will offer Alaska visitors an unusual opportunity to pair glacier hiking and ice climbing with rail travel through some of the state’s most stunning backcountry territory this summer. Guests board the Glacier Discovery Train in Anchorage, Girdwood, Whittier or Portage for the glacier-based tours. Hikers meet their guide on the train and hop off at the Alaska Railroad’s Spencer Whistle Stop, located in the heart of the Chugach National Forest.
Three trips will be available this summer as part of the new offerings:
· The Iceberg Hike, a mellow hike to the glacier’s edge with an interpretative naturalist;
· The Glacier Hike, during which guests don crampons and helmets and get out on the ice;
· And Ice Climbing, where guests experience the thrill of smacking tools into vertical walls of ice while learning ice-climbing basics from an experienced guide.
After a day’s adventure, guests board the train and head back to their point of embarkation. The full tour can be booked through the Alaska Railroad or through Ascending Path and will run throughout the course of Alaska’s peak summer season.
“Having access via the Alaska Railroad and well-built trails really provides an Alaska wilderness experience suitable for families and guests of all ages,” said Matt Szundy, co-owner and guide for Ascending Path. “The glacier trekking experience is one of Alaska’s most popular visitor experiences, and we’re pleased to be able to offer it in a way that is so accessible.”
The Spencer Whistle Stop is part of an ongoing backcountry-trails development project between the Alaska Railroad and the Chugach National Forest. Guests travel to the forest – the nation’s second largest – on the Chugach Explorer, a self-propelled rail car that is designed to stop and start easily to facilitate the namesake “whistle stop” service. With new trails and camping facilities being added to this backcountry gem all the time, more and more options open up for visitors (and residents) to camp and hike the backcountry while taking advantage of easy rail transportation to and from their jumping off point.