It’s safe to say: picturing a trip to Alaska is like working at full capacity through our own imagination’s repertoire. Aiming to the main cardinal point and looking upwards. The thriller of being attracted by the magnetism of an icy northern land that redefines isolation.
The American state is not an obvious destination for sure and it requires unconventional and unique explorers as well. I was among this group of 8 incredibly friendly guys who headed out to our biggest adventure yet. For the day, we were planning a steep hike up to the Exit Glacier, and, once at the top, we would engage in some ice climbing.
Exit Glacier is a mass of ice developed from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains and one of Kenai Fjords National Park's major attractions. The scenery is gorgeous and it's one of the easiest accesses to tourists who are intrigued by the icy cracks on the extreme formation.
As we started taking our first steps into the hiking trail, we had a brief lesson on how to react if we had an encounter with a bear which made a simple hike turn into this thrilling perspective of getting to face such creature, surrounded by that wilderness. I personally wouldn't mind a selfie with a lovely cub.
As the trail went up, the sweat was coming down. It was this nice and warm Alaska summer day, with a temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius. Right after the first half of the trail, it's possible to admire in awe the biggest reward - the vision of the descent valley, full of wavy roads and tall trees, just like we see in the movies.
About one hour after starting hiking Exit Glacier, we noticed a huge climate change. The air now is much colder and very windy. Our bodies were worn out in sweat from the hiking and we immediately had to change gear from warm summer environment to a cold and icy one.
It was time to unpack all the ice climbing equipment provided by our guides. Helmets, harnesses, gloves, special climbing shoes, crampons to attach to the shoes sole and layers and layers of clothing. We went from 18 degrees Celsius to unfriendly and chilly 0 degree.
We have finally reached the ice surface and started stomping towards the middle of the glacier. The path is step, irregular, with a wavy shape, showing slits going deep into the glacier. The crampons are essential for this part, but they are also very uncomfortable to walk with.
Our group was mesmerized. It was amazing seeing excited faces on everyone. Being in such extreme environment brings the best in the human spirit and meaningful connections are made. We were all trying to conquer our fears, and it was amazing to witness the brotherhood among our adventurers.
Every single one of us had the opportunity to go up and down the ice slits. As the ice surface changes its shape within moments, new spots for climbing appear every day, creating this once in a lifetime experience.
Such amazing opportunity was provided by the Man expeditions club. They are a travel club for gay men who are eager to challenge themselves and overcome their own fears and limits. It was incredible witnessing one of our fellow adventurers, David Beaconfields, bearing his fear of heights. His journey to achieve his personal goals was deeply touching for all the other travelers and we appreciated to share this accomplishment with him. Going up north never felt so good.
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This memory belongs to our Pit Stop Man Expeditions (@manexpeditions) . All the pictures belong to Man Expeditions' personal archive. To know more about our Pit Stop Man Expeditions, click here.
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