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Wrangell St. Elias National Park
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Iceberg Lake Loop/Base Camp Trek

Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake Loop/Base Camp Trek

Trip Details
Trip Type:
Base Camp/Loop
5 days trekking
7 days total including travel
Trek Price:

Trek price does not include cost of transportation to McCarthy or lodging in McCarthy before and after the trek as there are several options we can discuss.

2018 Trek Dates
Group Trips:
July 18-22
Aug 1-5
Aug 30 - Sep 3
Private Trips:
Contact us for private/custom dates
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Iceberg Lake Loop/Base Camp Trek   

Iceberg Lake Loop/Base Camp Trek
Elevation Profile

The Iceberg Lake valley is one of the premier spots in the park offering stunning vistas of hanging glaciers, high ridges, ice-fields and more. There is a lot of variety of terrain in this region. We could spend a week in this valley and not run out of places to explore.

Many people set up a base camp at some ponds near the airstrip. It's a nice spot but a bit too popular for our tastes. Instead we saddle up the packs and hike a bit down the valley where we explore a valley glacier before heading further up a ridge. There are lots of options for places to camp in this amazing valley, and we try to vary the route each time we visit the area. 

Usually we spend two nights at our first camp and enjoy the second day hiking without the heavy packs. Options for exploring include visiting some nearby lakes, heading up a scramble summit or hiking along the ridge. Then we pack it up and move camp to a new spot.

What we end up doing depends on the interests of the group. It's a great trip for those wanting to mix some day hiking into a bit of moderate backpacking. 

Spending five days in this amazing valley is like eating just the frosting off the cake! Indulge yourself.

  • Photos
  • Itinerary
  • Logistics
  • What to Bring
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The Adventure at a Glance

5 days/4 nights trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Difficulty:  Moderate
Duration:   5 days trekking, 7 days including travel time
Season:  Late June - Early September

Pre TripArrive in Anchorage 2 days prior to the start date of your trek.
On the day before your trek, our van picks you up at your Anchorage hotel around 8:00 am for the drive to McCarthy. You may also elect to drive in a rental car if you prefer. It's an amazing drive and one of the most scenic in Alaska. Arrive in McCarthy around 5-6:00 pm in time for the meeting with your guide. The guide will review your gear and distribute food and group gear as well as go over logistics for the following departure day into the backcountry.
Day 1Our van picks you up at your hotel around 8:00 am for the drive to McCarthy. You may also elect to drive in a rental car. It's an amazing drive and one of the most scenic in Alaska. Arrive in McCarthy around 6:00 pm in time for the meeting with your guide. The guide will review your gear and distribute food and group gear as well as go over logistics for the following departure day.
Day 2Our pilot lands the DeHaviland Beaver on a sandy mesa near Iceberg Lake. As the plane disappears over the ridge we shoulder our packs and head up the valley. It’s mostly pretty easy terrain today as we head towards the glacier. The edge of the ice is always a nice spot to stop for lunch and get some instruction from the guide on how to put on crampons and travel safely over the glacier. Most people are surprised to find that the terrain of a glacier can vary from flat ice to jagged ridges with melt holes, streams, crevasses and other features. We take our time with the crossing and explore.Once across we clamber over a bit of rocky moraine and part way up a ridge to find a campsite with great views of the valley as well as the glacier we just crossed.
Day 3Today we leave our camp set up and enjoy a day of hiking and exploring with light day loads. There are lots of options up on the ridge so we settle on an itinerary that suits the group. Possibilities include heading up a nearby scramble peak, exploring some nearby lakes or if we’re ambitious we could drop down over the other side of the ridge for a look at the next valley.
Day 4On the third day we usually pack up and move our camp again. This time we head the other direction down the valley but on the opposite side. Down on the flats we enjoy the easy travel. But eventually we do have to earn our supper and do some uphill hiking to get to our lofty perch that will be our final campsite. The views from here are just stunning especially when the late afternoon light rakes the peaks and ice. This area makes for some great photos. The ridge has also been a good place for spotting bears in the past!
Day 5Another base camp day! Once again we set out for some exploring with day packs. The options are many as we head higher up the ridge and discover hidden places tucked away where you would never expect them. We may head up the ridge crest or check out the large expanse of glacier, not in the valley this time but high up at the source!
Day 6Hard to believe that it’s already our last day and time to head back. But the adventure is far from over as we make our way down into the valley for a challenging stream crossing. The stream is made of meltwater from the glacier we crossed on the first day of our trek. It can be a challenging crossing so the guide is careful in the selection of a crossing spot. We learn and practice group crossing techniques before linking up and venturing out into the silty, and very cold water.Once across there’s a bit of hooting and stomping as we celebrate our success and try to get warmed up again. Sometime in the afternoon we hear the powerful engine of the Beaver heading our way. We enjoy a nice flight back to McCarthy with thoughts of hot showers and cold beers dancing in our heads.
Post TripThe van departs at 10:00 am for the return trip to Anchorage arriving around 6:00 pm. Overnight in Anchorage

How Do We Get to McCarthy Alaska?

There are several options.

Car Rentals
If you have more than 2 in your group then renting a car out of Anchorage can be a good option. 

Shuttle Van
A shuttle service provides van transportation between Anchorage to McCarthy, Alaska. The shuttle departs Anchorage at 8:00 am arriving around 5:00 pm in McCarthy. This is the besst, most economical way for one or two people to get to McCarthy and back. 

If you are driving or taking the shuttle it takes about 8 hours to drive Anchorage to McCarthy.

Round Trip: US $390.00

The van service is operated by Wrangell-St. Elias Tours. Once you have a hotel reservation in Anchorage you will need to let them, as well as me, know where you will be staying. Also give them your cell phone number if you will have one with you.

Wrangell St. Elias Tours
Contact: Jennifer Titus 
Email: info@alaskayukontravel.com
Phone: 907.960.2020

Ride n Fly
The last 60 miles from Chitian to McCarthy is on the McCarthy road. 40 miles of the road are unpaved. It's usualy in good shape and any vehicle can easily drive it. But some folks prefer not to.

An alternative is to drive to Chitina and from there take the Wrangell Mountain Air shuttle that flies three times daily to McCarthy.

Wrangell Mt. Air - http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/getting_to_alaska.htm

Wrangell Mt. Air can also arrange a charter flight just for your group. Contact them about current rates.

Mail Plane
There is a mail plane that flies between Anchorage and McCarthy twice a week - on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a good way for one or two people to get to and from McCarthy. Beautiful flight and no long drive in the car. With only two flights weekly you would likely need to arrive a few days early in McCarthy.



Where Do We Meet?
You will be picked up at your hotel around 8:00 am of Day 1 as shown on the itinerary. The van usually arrives in McCarthy by 6:00 pm At this time you will meet your guide and the rest of the group in McCarthy for an orientation meeting the evening before the trip begins. You will be in contacted approximately 2-3 weeks before your trip and we will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The morning of departure it's a short walk across the street to Wrangell Mt. Air where we catch a shuttle van to the airstrip for our departure into the backcountry.

Drop Off/PickupTimes
We like to get an early start on the first day as it might take two flights to get everyone into the backcountry. Departure times of 8:30 a.m. are common. Our pickups on the last day are usualy around mid-day to allow us time to get back to McCarthy and get cleaned up and relax before dinner.

Safety Considerations
Your safety is our top priority. Our treks are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are certified wilderness first responders or EMT's, each with years of wilderness experience. On most treks the guide carries  a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 9074.554.1088 for more information.

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Here is a link to forms that you will need to complete and return to us before the trip. These include medical history, dietary restrictions, conditioning information as well as policies such as cancellations and refunds.

Group Size
We prefer to run small groups and our clients like it that way too. The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide. Larger groups are possible for private trips. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 907.554.1088 and we'll answer all your questions.

Weather in the Wrangells
Alaska is pretty far north and like any mountain evirronment we are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Wrangell-St. Elias. July is especialy variable and we have had temps hit the low 80s some summers. Mid August is when things start to cool down a bit but still great hikng weather.


Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

What's Included

  • Group gear: tents, dining tarp, stove, fuel
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, hiking guide
  • Bear safety equipment including bear spray cannisters and food storage containers
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you and your family to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Trek Alaska adventure after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Backpack
  • Trek poles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Waterbottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-15% of trip cost)
  • See the Gear List for more information.

: See the Gear List for detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your trek.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

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