Wrangell Backpacking – Stevens

GUIDED ALASKA Private

Wrangell Backpacking – Stevens

DATES

July 29, 2023 - August 6, 2023

REGION

Wrangell St Elias National Park

TRIP COST

$14,500. Party of one.

calendar

DATES

July 29, 2023 - August 6, 2023
region

REGION

Wrangell St Elias National Park
price

TRIP COST

$14,500. Party of one.

Enjoy a week of big wilderness and big views in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park this summer. This backpacking adventure traverses the flanks of a Mt Sanford where we can explore the surrounding mountains and glaciers, search for Dall sheep, and enjoy the solitude and wilderness of this mountain kingdom. We can tailor this backpack to make it longer and harder or shorter and less strenuous. It is your trip so just let us know what you want. This hike in the Wrangells is hard to beat.

TRIP DETAILS

The high country in Wrangell-St. Elias is beyond compare. With 9.6 million acres of designated wilderness, Wrangell- St. Elias National Park is part of the largest federally protected area in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape of the northern Wrangells is one of smoking volcanoes covered in ice; rocky spires jut into the blue sky above sinuous valleys with glacial torrents careening between sheer valley walls. And amongst the raw elemental power of the place we find green glens rich with fern and wildflowers and verdant plateaus dotted with Dall sheep and nesting song birds. It is a land of contrasts and beauty.

The lower elevations of the Park are forested and very brushy, beautiful but difficult to navigate. In contrast, the high-country offers endless vistas and relatively easy hiking both on the mountain sides and along the valley floor. Our hike starts in an enormous amphitheater of ice in the very shadow of the 16,000 ft high Mount Sanford. To access this is a rarely visited portion of the park requires flights in an airplane which can only take a single passenger at a time. This nimble aircraft allows us to enjoy true wilderness solitude in a unique and pristine location.

From this good start the adventure just gets better. Dall Sheep flock in the peaks. Grizzly bears dig ground squirrels and hunt marmots in the valley floors and caribou roam the higher plateaus. It is a good place to see a variety of wildlife.

By staying in the high country the hiking is exceptionally good. Of course there are places with rough ground, brush and a few serious creek crossings, but on the whole vegetation is sparse and the footing solid. This route covers about 30 miles and crosses 3 passes. The bulk of the route is at 4,500 ft above sea level and glaciers are nearly always in sight. Mt Sanford is quickly becoming our favorite part of the Wrangells.

This route offers physical challenge, diverse landscapes, great chances for wildlife and truly stunning scenery. Join us for adventure and solitude in America’s largest National Park.

Last updated: October 6, 2022

Itinerary

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

July 29

Meet your guide at 12 pm for a Pre-trip meeting at the Arctic Wild World-headquarters in Fairbanks.

Once we get gear sorted and questions answered we will begin the 4.5 hour drive south to the Wrangells. We’ll enjoy the scenery as we head southeast along the Richardson Highway to the town of Chistochina. Where we stay the night at a local B&B.

July 30

After a nice breakfast with our hosts in Chistochina, we meet our pilot who shuttles us into the mountains one at a time. Once the hum of the propeller fades into the distance and the quiet of the mountains descends we are on our own. The weather and your desires will dictate the pace of the trip, but the drop-off location is so spectacular it warrants a bit of time to relish the beauty.

July 31

When ready, you’ll negotiate the glacial moraine and head towards Capital Mountain where Dall Sheep graze high on the green slopes. Then its up and over the first 1,000 ft pass before finding a way to down to Boulder Glacier. The creek crossing below the glacier may be a significant obstacle if the weather is warm and crossing early the next day is prudent.

August 1 - 5

Once across Boulder Creek and Sheep Creek, the walking gets even better. There will be time to explore near the glaciers and to scan for wildlife on the tundra. Near the ice large cobbles and loose rocks slow progress but once up on the volcanic plateaus, full strides are possible and the vistas are impressive.

Each night we’ll camp near a small creek or find springs coming out of the rocks.

August 6

One last walk to the river, one last scan for sheep above camp and it is time to pack-up and fly back to Chistochina where our vehicle waits. If the weather cooperates we can be back in Fairbanks in the evening, ready for a hot shower.

Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. His knowledge for the flora, fauna, and natural history of the tundra is astonishing. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!

 

- Brent, Colorado, USA

DETAILS

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Transportation beyond Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness, stoves

Cooking & eating utensils, water filter, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

Select Camping Gear

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear per our equipment list

Gratuity for guide

WEATHER & BUGS

Temperatures vary dramatically in the Alaska. Early August is usually mild and warm (sometimes even hot) and the Northern Wrangells are one of the driest parts of the state. That said, it could be cool and rainy so be prepared for anything.  Temperatures could range from the 20s to 80s. Snow is possible any day of the year. Mosquitoes should not be an issue but bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent just in case.

RECOMMENDED READING

The Copper Spike, Lone E Janson

More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River