Glacier Landing on Mt. McKinley – what a rush!

On July 10th we were able to complete the most exciting excursion of our trip so far – flying to Mt. McKinley and landing on a glacier at the base camp.  Wow, this was definitely an “e-ticket” ride for us, and we were excited to actually land on that massive mountain that we will probably never climb.

Mt Mckinley

Panoramic view of Climber’s base camp

Mt Mckinley

Pilots chatting

Mt Mckinley

The base camp looked like a small airport, there were 5 planes at one point!

Mt Mckinley

A happy smile from a little woman on a big mountain!

We took off from Talkeetna airport, which was cheaper than flying out of the airport in Denali park.  The airplane was a DeHavilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter (for our pilot buddies reading this).  Although the weather wasn’t perfect, the pictures show that it was good enough to make for an incredible flight.

We landed at the 7,300 ft. elevation on the glacier, which is where the climbers begin their attempts to reach the summit.  The climb takes at least three weeks to complete, and we learned that it’s an amazing journey that’s probably too intense for us to try.  But this trip was a close second!

Mt Mckinley

Climber’s stuff left behind for retrieval when they return from their attempt on the summit

Wickersham wall

Wickersham Wall—at 14,000 ft. it is one of the steepest vertical rises on earth

The Grand Denali Tour offered by Talkeetna Air Taxi is a flight to and around Mt. McKinley, with a glacier landing for an extra fee.  The trip lasts about 2.5 hours and will likely be the most beautiful mountain flying you’ve ever experienced.  Our photos cannot do it justice. There are also other flights around and to the summit of Mt. McKinley, if you are not insistent on the glacier landing as we were.

Kahiltna Glacier

Kahiltna Glacier, the superhighway of Mt Denali.

Mt Hunter

Mt Hunter.

MT Mckinley

Close up of glacier where earth and ice meet

Cache Creek.

a little mining site at Cache Creek. Note the plane there as the only transportation out, and the school buses where the workers live. Hard life…

Homes in the wilderness

Homes in the wilderness, note no road leading in or out.

This was an incredible experience, not to be missed if you are an adventurous person visiting the area.  The sense of scale you feel in this place is indefinable, inexplicable and incomparable to any other place.  It’s not so much about “the glacier” as it is about the place, the beauty and the sense of scale you begin to comprehend when you’re here.

Denali

A ski affixed to the tail wheel on the plane

Goretex booties

Goretex booties helped keep our shoes dry

Glacier Landing, Mt Mckinley

Anyone traveling into Denali National Park or to the town of Talkeetna should take this flight if at all possible.  What an awesome experience!