The Best Of Visiting Alaska Glaciers

Mt Deborah

ALASKA — When you’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy seven different excursions in Alaska, choosing a favorite is like picking crab over lobster — or vice versa. As our Voyage of The Glaciers cruise on the Star Princess wound down, it was a regular question among the participants.

Almost everyone’s pick had the word “glacier” in it.

Including us.

Had we not flown up the slopes of Mount McKinley in a fixed-wing plane four years ago and landed on Ruth Glacier, after several sleepless nights of anticipation or fear, just flying through snow-covered mountain passes would probably have been our first choice. It was trumped, however, by taking a helicopter to a different glacier, called Yanert.

When we landed on the tongue of ice reaching down (above) from Mount Deborah — once known as the granite sister of mighty McKinley — we were alone. Six passengers and a Copterpilot. Crusty ice and rushing water providing a cool, clear drink and creating mini-rivers everywhere on this massive field of compressed snow about 8,000 feet above sea level. There were no animals, no people, no accompanying aircraft…just magnificent scenery in brilliant sunshine, and the only sound was the crunching of the glacier beneath our boots.

For us, a moment frozen in time.

In contrast, when landing on Ruth Glacier at the foot of Mount McKinley in 2011, we were flanked by two other small planes. We could see a camp of would-be mountain climbers, Ruth Glacierjust beyond shouting distance. The surface was more snow than ice and “glacier” implies just the opposite.

Both were thrills. Both were worth doing. But being on the helicopter and visiting the “other woman” — Mount Deborah — was special. She sparkled. She was stunning. She was memorable.

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