Flying across this icy, desolate and barren landscape it looks more like Antarctica from the window seat of the helicopter I’m flying in. But this is Alaska, the USA’s 49th state, and laid before us is the beautiful Juneau Icefield. As the fifth largest icefield in the Western hemisphere, this is a significant point of interest for visitors travelling the Inside Passage on their Alaska Cruise.
You join me as I’ve climbed out of a helicopter and stepped onto the Mendenhall Glacier for an ice trek. With crampons strapped to my feet and an Ice axe in my hand I’m ready to explore this vast frozen landscape.
A highlight of your Alaska Cruise of the Inside Passage, the town of Juneau in Alaska is a port of call for the cruise ship industry who descend on this area for stop-overs every summer. A short drive to Juneau’s International Airport is needed from the cruise ship terminal to begin your helicopter flight to the Juneau Icefield.
Flying across the Juneau Icefield
The only way to get to the Juneau Icefield is by aircraft. Helicopter flights provide visitors with the means of landing on Junea’s Mendenhall Glacier, the star attraction of this small town, for glacier treks. 40 separate glaciers emanate from the Juneau Icefield carving out the valleys below.
The jewel in the crown of the Alaska Cruise Inside Passage, the Mendenhall Glacier is the destination of your helicopter flight. 13 miles long, this huge river of ice carves its way though the Mendenhall Valley. Worryingly, the Mendenhall Glacier has retreated over 1.75 miles since 1929, with this recession set to continue as our climate changes and global temperatures increase.
The highlight of a stop-over in Juneau as part of an Alaska Cruise, is the opportunity to walk on the Mendenhall Glacier. Kitted out in climbing equipment, crampons and an ice axe, expert guides lead you safely across this unique landscape. With ropes tethered to your harness you’ll have the chance to visit some impressive geological glacial features.