“The Fosse” Fly-in Day Trip

Overview

“The Fosse” Fly-in Day Trip is among the most affordable backcountry adventures combining a scenic flight tour with guided hiking or climbing in the Wrangell Mountains’ Kennicott Valley; choose to go ice climbing, glacier hiking, or alpine hiking to take in sweeping views from up high. For more adventure, choose to make this an overnight camping and backpacking trip.

Availability
June 15 – September 15, 2014 
Duration
Begins In
McCarthy 
Ends In
McCarthy 
Transportation
Shuttle, Bush Plane 
Features
A stunning flight across the Kennicott Valley of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, professionally guided climbing or instruction at novice or intermediate levels. 
Difficulty
Novice, Intermediate 
Priced From
$355 per person 
Trip Includes
Round trip flight in a small bush plane between McCarthy and The Fosse plus a bush landing, private guide, climbing equipment. 
Not Included
Personal clothing suitable for cool and potentially wet conditions, trail snacks or lunch. 

Technically speaking, a fosse is the area between the lateral moraine of a glacier and the adjoining mountainsides; there are countless fosses in these mountains. In this case, however, “The Fosse” refers to one landing strip in particular along the west edge of the Kennicott Glacier and near the base of 16,390′ Mount Blackburn. This backcountry strip was established and named in the 1970s by Gary Green – owner-operator of McCarthy Air.

To get to The Fosse, hop aboard a single engine bush plane for a 15-minute scenic flight with your guide. Travel from the state-maintained airstrip in McCarthy north-northwest across the Root and Kennicott Glaciers. From the air, views of the Kennicott Valley are immediately impressive, vast and varied. Catch a glimpse of the McCarthy-Kennicott townsites, the 5000′ Stairway Icefall, blue pools and rivers, the source and whitewater of the Kennicott River. Look south to the Chugach Mountains or north to snow-covered Mount Blackburn and countless unnamed peaks beyond.

fly with mccarthy air and wild alpine to the fosse for epic fly-in backcountry day trip hiking ice climbing adventure

Fly in a single engine bush plane to The Fosse backcountry airstrip.

fosse wrangell st elias national park guided hiking with wild alpine guides

Hidden Lake is nestled between peaks on the western edge of the Kennicott Glacier, just south of The Fosse. If you choose to check it out, your guide will lead the way to this gem, a seasonal lake that fills up early in the season as snow melts from surrounding peaks and gets trapped by an ice dam along the edge of the glacier.

explore hidden lake wrangell st elias national park with wild alpine guides

Hidden Lake and surrounding alpine terrain in early June 2013. In spring, this seasonal lake fills up as snowmelt gets caught behind an ice dam along the western edge of the Kennicott Glacier. In mid or late summer, the dam bursts and the lake drains, leaving beautiful icebergs stranded on the silty banks.

During an event called a jökulhlaup, this large volume of water breaks through the dam, abruptly releasing and rushing underneath the glacier, flooding the Kennicott River. The drainage leaves icebergs stranded on silty banks; these blue and white nature-sculpted giants are beautiful and fun to explore when you’ve timed your trip right. Though it’s hard to predict exactly when the jökulhlaup will happen each year, mid- to late-summer visitors stand the best chance of witnessing this unique event.

explore the wrangell mountains with wild alpine guides alaska

For the best easy-moderate day hikes and views from up high, your guide will lead up gently-sloped rocky or moss-covered alpine terrain above the glaciers.

guided hike on the Root Glacier, Wrangell St Elias National Park Alaska with Wild Alpine

For moderate challenge, explore the glacier on a day hike following a route selected by your mountain guide.

Learn to ice climb in Alaska with Wild Alpine guides

Learn to ice climb in a spectacular venue on the Kennicott Glacier.

For moderate challenge, choose to go hiking on the glacier or ice climbing in a world-class venue. In both options, scramble over the lateral moraine onto the Kennicott Glacier, just south of towering Mount Blackburn. Navigate among seracs and crevasses traversing east towards the junction of the Kennicott and Gates glaciers. Get great views of hanging glaciers above and the impressive “Kennicott highway”. Steep ice walls, moraines, moulins, and lakes abound here; plan to follow your guide’s safe travel techniques and route finding style.

For one full day of wilderness adventure, “The Fosse” Fly-in Day Trip offers an unbeatable mix of scenic flight touring and hiking or climbing within close range of McCarthy and Kennecott accommodations.

fly-in hike with wild alpine guides alaska wrangell-st elias national park

Viewed to the north from the Kennicott Glacier, the 16,390′ summit of Mount Blackburn looms large.

Itinerary

As with all Wild Alpine adventures, the itinerary for your visit to The Fosse is custom to your goals.

Recommended Schedule
8:45 am: Check in at our office in McCarthy. Meet your guide.
9:00 am – 9:30 am: Get outfitted with glacier travel gear: crampons, trekking poles.
9:30 am: Scenic flight to The Fosse.
10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Glacier and alpine hiking or climbing; hike at your own pace with breaks for photos and lunch.
5:30 pm: Meet your plane and pilot for a scenic flight back to McCarthy.
6:00 pm: Arrive back in McCarthy.

About the Area

FAQs

Resources

Winter Ice Climbing Gear List

Guests are responsible for bringing appropriate outdoor gear. This packing list will help to ensure you have everything you need for your adventure. Plan your travel wardrobe around informal and comfortable clothing. The weather in Alaska is quite variable and changes quickly. High quality weatherproof gear is worth the investment, especially in the winter months. … Continue reading

Map of Alaska

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About Anchorage

Anchorage serves as the gateway to most Wild Alpine adventures. Officially incorporated in 1920 (Alaska was granted statehood in 1959) this central hub is a relatively young community founded on the construction of the Alaska Railroad and North Slope oil revenues. All the comforts of major cities in the Lower 48 can be found here; … Continue reading

About Valdez

Valdez is an Alaskan oil and harbor town at it’s finest. Crude oil from the North Slope is loaded onto barges here and shipped via Prince William Sound to refineries outside of Alaska. The people here are hearty and kind; the accommodations are comfortable and the food satisfies a big appetite. Valdez is a no-frills … Continue reading

About Girdwood

Just 45 minutes from Anchorage, Girdwood is a quintessential Alaskan ski town. Town boasts 650+ inches of snow annually and summer’s highlight – the Forest Faire – plus seasonal crowds and a few nice places to eat and hear live music. The Alyeska Hotel is known for it’s mountain-side location, skiing, hiking and mountain biking … Continue reading

About Talkeetna

Historically, Talkeetna has served at the primary jumping-off point for mountaineers accessing Denali (aka Mount McKinley) and other popular areas of the Alaska Range. Comfortable accommodations, a good selection of restaurants, a local brewery and the popular Fairview Inn make this place a favorite staging spot for climbing parties. Located just two hours north of … Continue reading

About Kennecott & McCarthy

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Day Hiking Gear List

Guests are responsible for bringing appropriate outdoor gear. This packing list will help to ensure you have everything you need for your adventure. Plan your travel wardrobe around informal and comfortable clothing. The weather in Alaska is quite variable and changes quickly. High quality waterproof gear is worth the investment, especially for the summer months. … Continue reading

Summer Ice Climbing Gear List

Guests are responsible for bringing appropriate outdoor gear. This packing list will help to ensure you have everything you need for your adventure. Plan your travel wardrobe around informal and comfortable clothing. The weather in Alaska is quite variable and changes quickly. High quality waterproof gear is worth the investment, especially for the summer months. … Continue reading