My Experience Hiking on Top of Alaska’s Exit Glacier

Hiking on top of a glacier is an otherworldly experience that I'll never forget.

Before I departed on my trip, I watched this fascinating documentary called Chasing Ice. It's based on National Geographic photographer James Balog's mission to gather undeniable evidence of climate change. Using time-lapse cameras, his videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

I was inspired to see it for myself. This past weekend, I hopped on a plane from Los Angeles and arrived at Exit Glacier, a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska. It received its name because it served as the exit for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968.

As I walked onto Exit Glacier on a bright and sunny day, I could see and hear water rushing down the ice blue crevasses and moulins. I asked one of our guides if the water was drinkable. He said it was and asked if I wanted to taste it. A bit shocked, I replied sure, and he told me to straddle the sides of a shallow river, similar to a push-up position, and dip my head in for a drink. It was the freshest water I've ever tasted in my life.

I was awestruck by the vast beauty of the bright white and blue ice, but also a bit devastated knowing that this beautiful glacier would definitely not be the same if I ever visited again.

The age old debate about the existence of global warming and it's causes have existed for decades. What's unfortunate is that it has become extremely political, at a time when factual data is readily available. There is no doubt that glaciers like this are receding at an alarming rate. Humans and animals will certainly be displaced. The world is going to change and it's going to happen at an exponential pace.

I asked my wife what she thinks can be done at this point to stop or, at least, slow down the process. She plainly stated that she didn't know but was going to focus on what she could do to limit her own carbon footprint. Although one could argue that we're too far into the process to reverse our current course, I guess it's the simplest solutions that make the most sense.

Ice Climbers

Kevin, one of our wonderful guides from Exit Glacier Guides.

Exit Glacier from a short distance

Photo credit: Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim is the Editor-in-Chief of My Modern Met. In May, 2008, he co-founded the website to create one big city that celebrates creative ideas. His mission is to promote a positive culture by spotlighting the best sides of humanity—from the lighthearted and fun to the thought-provoking and enlightening.
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