Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

The south side of the Alaska Range, the Talkeetnas, the Chugach mountains, the Kenai Peninsula and the Wrangells
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wfinley
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:36 pm

Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by wfinley » Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:14 am

Todd & I floated Glacier Creek down in Girdwood last night. We floated from the hand tram to pretty much the front porch of Chair 5 (got out, crossed the street and ordered pizza!). River levels are pretty high right now and the section through the canyon was quite fast and fun! I took a swim shortly after putting in, but the river is mostly knee to waist deep so I was able to get to shore fairly easily.

The put in requires a down-climb through alders and devil's club - but someone has left a rope tied to a tree to aid in the down-climb (which i imagine would be sketchy if it was raining) so it's not too bad. (Hike down river from the hand tram and you'll see it.) Incidentally I was told (later) that if you cross via the hand-tram it is easier to get to down. The canyon is free of sweepers and after the canyon there are a few but they are pretty easy to paddle around.

Some photos are below.
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Down-climbing to the put in.
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Blowing up the rafts.
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Todd drops in.
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Re-rigging the raft after taking a swim!
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Me looking very concerned!
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Floating down the braids to the take out.
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alaskabackcountry
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:02 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mns.

Post by alaskabackcountry » Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:54 pm

I'm glad to see other people are starting to discover this gem near Anchorage. I've floated it quite a few times in the last few summers and rate it similarly to Willow creek's Red gate section both in character and difficulty. It's an excellent and relatively safe easy to moderate whitewater run. Rating? Up for debate... You will get wet, and there is swim potential.

For those interested in checking it out I suggest starting just downstream of the hand tram. Hike to the tram then look for a trail through the trees, down a steep bank, and onto a beach just across the creek from where the Winner creek waterfall joins Glacier creek.

I often start the run directly below the tram cables and this offers easy access via an easy trail. The one consideration is you have no warmup before a small drop in the creek. Hit it correctly or swim!

If you want even more of a challenge, try starting higher up on Crow creek. Not at the mine, or you risk going over a waterfall! As you hike down the trail towards the tram (from the Crow creek side), look for an inconspicuous side trail on the left shortly before reaching the tram. A steep trail with fixed rope assist takes you to Crow Creek and a couple of recreational mining claims. A small foot bridge crosses the creek here. The creek is small and quite rocky but very pack raftable. It bounces you down a steep section to a sharp bend with a couple small drops, then joins Glacier Creek. Good eddy on river right just after joining Glacier Creek. A short straight stretch of splashy water takes you to the hand tram.

Check out the gauge at:
http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrogr ... ,1,1,1,1,1

This gauge is manually checked and not always updated. Being glacier fed, and in a rainforest, the flows can spike rather quickly. On the web site click on the dots to get cfs equivalents to the ft. gauge. I suggest floating between 25.8 and 27 ft (roughly 400 to 1000 cfs).

Alex Wilson

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by Alex Wilson » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:46 pm

Rachel and I floated today from the handtram down to town. Water was running at a 27 and made it a lot of fun! Our first time running this river so we got out and looked a couple of times. Well placed eddies make getting out pretty easy. Not many strainers/sweepers to be concerned with on the upper part, there are a few after the little canyon to look out for. We really got a thrill out of this run- fast paced for a little packraft with some exciting drops and turns to keep you on your toes!

chugach rider

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by chugach rider » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:49 pm

There are rumors of an accident involving a couple packrafters on Glacier Creek today. There have been helis flying up and down Girdwood valley today. Does anyone know anything?

mbeiergrohslein

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by mbeiergrohslein » Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:33 pm

http://www.ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?S=8948740

Pretty bad news....short story can be found at the above link, sounds like it wasn't an Alpacka as four people were on 1 raft. I've floated from the hand tram down twice in the last month and conditions have been nice with no sweepers.

Mike

bergbryce
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Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:56 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by bergbryce » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:38 am

Some actual details on the accident, like what exactly happened would be nice. Like an accident report like you see after an avy. Anything like that exist in the paddling community?

chugach rider

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by chugach rider » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:25 am

In case you missed this in the paper:

http://www.adn.com/anchorage/story/515546.html

bergbryce
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:56 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by bergbryce » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:35 am

thanks,
I did read that. Unfortunately it doesn't mention any details on what caused or how the accident happened, only that "conditions in the area have been rough in recent days"

rhickel
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:56 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by rhickel » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:35 pm

Anybody looking to run Glacier Creek in the next week? My friend and I would like to run it, but would like someone whose already done it to lead us through. We don't have a lot of whitewater experience, but are comfortable packrafting Campground Rapids in lower Eagle River (Class 3) for example. We will buy you a beer at Chair 5 for your guiding effort!

Ryan

mbeiergrohslein

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by mbeiergrohslein » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:17 pm

Hey Ryan, I might be in that area tomorrow evening, call me if your around cell:317-5048
mb

rhickel
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:56 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by rhickel » Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:55 am

Thanks, I'll be on the Kenai till tomorrow night though. However, my friend (Brett) who lives in Girdwood might give you a call.

Ryan

rhickel
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:56 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by rhickel » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:44 am

Hey,
I guess Brett never called you as he got busy. If you (or anyone else) wanted to lead us through it this Thursday, Friday or Saturday, we would definitely be interested. Thanks!

johnz1967
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:10 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by johnz1967 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:22 am

Hit this yesterday, dueling packrafter and kayaker. Thought I'd add a few clarifying comments. First, this truly is a gem right under my nose that I had ignored. We almost reluctantly decided on it yesterday due to some time constraints, with the unknown factor at least giving us some intrigue, and with the water level being on the low side were merely expecting a nice but not overly exciting run, like what you see from the bridge in Girdwood (take-out).

90 seconds after put in you couldn't have torn the smiles off our faces.

First, for those unfamilar, the best access is from the intersection of Crow Creek Road and the Crow Mine Road. However, if driving, note that there are 'no parking' signs posted everywhere near there. Have no idea how strictly enforced, but if you go back down a couple hundred yards there is a 3-4 car pullout. Don't park at the official 'hand-tram' parking lot unless you want quite a bit of a walk (if you do its easier to walk on the road to above point).

From the mine intersection, take the mine road about 100 yards, on the right will be an obvious trail that leads to the main trail. Its about 3/4 mile to the hand-tram. If you want to put in here you can just go to the left from the tram and there's an easy trail right down to the water. It will be a flying start but its doable. From this point on we encountered no obstacles, class II-III, fast, kept us on our toes, kept us smiling. In my humble opinion, I would advise this is not a run for first whitewater experience unless guided or extremely comfortable.

As alluded to in an earlier post, a bit more excitement can be had from backtracking from the handtram a few hundred yards and putting in at Crow Creek. Look for the first not-so-obvious path straight down, ropes, and an old sign saying something like "travel at your own risk".

*Note there is a more obvious way down even further away from the handtram with ropes that also has ropes and I assume leads to Crow Creek. You do not want this one or you will be in for at least one nasty surprise, a nice chest-level (when sitting in a raft) log/bridge after a blind corner. This log/bridge is at the put-in describe above, so if you see it, you're at the right place.

This 2-3 minute segment on Crow Creek down to the hand-tram is III-IV, fast with a couple of pipes, rocks, etc.. that require avoidance but not stoppage, couple of nice 3 ft drops, generally a rockin good time. For maximum enjoyment acclimate the air inside the raft to the water temps as much as possible and re-fill up before blasting off, instead of relying on my normal modus operandi of being able to get out a few minutes after put-in to do so as there might not be a place to stop for awhile.

If you want to see the run, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQqJ99TmH4

Looks like it was measured at 25.37 on http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrogr ... ,1,1,1,1,1

So now, a question for others more familar with it, whats it like with higher water levels? Smooths things out or makes it rowdier?

RyanMiller
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:50 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by RyanMiller » Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:03 pm

Love the helmet cam, which one is it?

I have only ran that once and it was at ~26.1 and I remember thinking these waves are BIG. I cant tell from the video the difference from when I ran it and that level. No question someone here knows though. Thanks for sharing!
ahh, nice marmot

RomanDial
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:13 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by RomanDial » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:45 pm

That video got my mouth watering immediately.

andrewallan
Posts: 217
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:56 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Glacier Creek video

Post by andrewallan » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:34 pm

What an absolutely fantastic video. Loved it. Congratulations

johnz1967
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:10 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by johnz1967 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:28 pm

Ran it again this morning, water gauge 25.11 or so per the website. Compared to seemingly such a small difference on my first run (25.37 +/-), its a little bony, especially above the hand tram right now. Runnable, but there are a lot or rocks hidden enough to not easily see but not hidden enough for one's rear-end to pass by cleanly (data analysis indicates that my butt moved 75% of the rocks hit, but that left 25% putting a hurt on). Rock avoidance and rock "hittance" at this lower level might actually slightly increase the technicalities, and some of the drops were more pronounced, and it might even have been splashier (or I was getting hot and just looking for a reason to cool down), but its certainly a bit slower in between the good stuff. Had to walk a couple times near the end for short stretches, and got in some practice of the "packrafter-low-water-butt-raise-and-scooch" (Roman is that in your class?).

Still one of my faves, but I may have just got the perfect run on it the first time around.

Doug
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:54 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by Doug » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:03 pm

Ran it from the tram Thursday eve. Gauge estimate 25.3 and ~375 cfs. It was splashy, dodgy and lots of fun but nothing felt more than a tad pushy. We had 7 PRs and 2 IKs. One of the IK guys ran the waterfall on the left that is up and sort of out of sight. He nixed the idea of running the one that drops right into the creek because of that finger of rock that curls around the top of the falls and might give big hurt to your head as you tried to pass it.

We had neophytes all the way to Class V boaters and all were impressed with this, a first run for any of us, of this little Girdwood gem. I think those people down in Girdwood are holding out on us for recreation opps. I walked, with a couple of locals, up California Creek to the skyline ridge well up in the alpine tundra this summer and . . . WOW. What a hike! What else are they keeping secret down there.

Is there any possible boating of Winner Creek itself up toward its headwaters or is the Gorge about it?

Anyone want to run this, say Thursday evening, 8/20? I start the Swiftwater Rescue course http://www.solgear.com/WRTPackraftDescription.html the next morning so going in with a little boating "pump" would be nice.

If you want to dial into some easy to moderate PR trips, connect with the http://www.AnchorageAdventurers.com. We will be posting a few more trips this year and plenty in 2010.
Here are pics of last night's trip http://www.meetup.com/AnchorageAdventur ... /11075433/
http://www.meetup.com/AnchorageAdventur ... /#10184393

pd4
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:13 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by pd4 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:11 pm

Ran Glacier today. I put in a little downstream from the tram. Didn't feel like being challenged right off the bat, though my start was swift enuff. Water level was good and I rode some nice wavetrains. I did scrape bottom a couple of times but figure I could have avoided that had I chosen a better line. No significant sweepers or strainers and I didn't go for a swim, so a good day. :D

Doug
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:54 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by Doug » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:00 pm

According to the gauge http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrogr ... ,1,1,1,1,1 that means pd4 ran it at about 300 cfs. I would have thought that rather low but I glad to hear that it can be run w/o too much scraping at that level. We had been running it at about 360 cfs a few weeks ago and thought that might be the "bottom" of runnable flow. So, good news . . . .

johnz1967
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:10 am

Crow/Glacier Creek; Girdwood

Post by johnz1967 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:20 pm

Just a little update, ran today at around 26. Bloody perfect. The 2-3 minutes above the tram hard to beat for ease of access and closeness to the city for a sweet little intermediate ride.

One fairly new sweeper just above hand tram (visible from scouting around the tram overlook) blocking 3/4 of the creek, easy to skirt around it on the right. A few more new sweepers and wood lower around the airport, nothing too difficult to avoid.

New Winner gorge trailhead parking lot installed last year provides a convenient place to ditch a bike for pickup later or parking for car shuttle.

alaskacreeker
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:09 pm
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Contact:

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by alaskacreeker » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:50 am

If you guys can handle campground rapids, then you can handle Glacier Creek. Put in at the hand tram (on the river-right side there is a steep trail that descends to the river, pretty easy, takes 2 minutes to walk down plus has a rope so you don't bust your tail bone). The river is pretty mellow as far as rapids are concerned, just very swift at the current level with a few occasional waves and small holes. The biggest obstacles are the canyon walls, just drive away from them early & hard & you'll be fine. Enjoy:^)
Timmy J.
www.alaskawhitewater.org
"Screw it, let the revolution begin..."

rupe
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:11 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by rupe » Fri May 27, 2011 10:53 am

Just ran Glacier from the hand tram back to the bridge in Girdwood yesterday (5/26/11). I havn't run this river more than 6 times, but I have never really seen a good correletion between the gauge and teh actual river level at teh put in. The gauge looked high, but teh river is actually low. Still enough water to miss teh rocks, but not swollen. There is however, a river-wide sweeper about 500 yds upstream from the take out on river right. It must e portaged, and will become a real saftey hazard at higher water. There was a smaller diameter strainer a few feet further downstream that you could just push your way under, but again at high water this might not be the case. Just a heads up. The creek is still a ton of fun!

mtboy
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by mtboy » Tue May 29, 2012 8:14 pm

There is a new sweeper in the upper canyon of Glacier creek below the tram but before the canyon opens up...you can see it with plenty of time but it looks like you can sneak around it but you can't. The water levels were pretty high on the 25th when I paddled it and it was a blast! There was one other sweeper that gave us a few problems and we had to sneak around it...overall it is in great shape now if you want to brave the snow hike in!

johnz1967
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:10 am

Re: Crow / Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by johnz1967 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:25 pm

Your up to the minute report..

Water level is at a definite heartrate raising sweetspot, about 26.7 today. FWIW reminder you are missing out on the best part of this run if you put in at the handtram (although that is the safer option). From an unmarked trail-pointer post about a 1/2 mile up from the tram (or 1/2 mile down from the parking lot) continue down 115 paces (more or less) and turn left. There is a well worn but unseen from the main trail path straight down that ends at a small footbridge over Crow Creek. The ropes that used to help on the descent are gone from the upper section so it could be a bit slippery if wet, ropes are there for the second half.

There is a downed tree just below the footbridge, walk through it to reveal a nice beachlike launching zone. There also is a nasty piece of wood creek-left just above where Glacier Creek joins in, at the narrowest point of the canyon surrounding Crow. If you know its there (and now you do) you can sneak by middle right, or you can do like I did and not see it until too late, land the front half of the raft on it, wrench shoulder keeping back half of raft from going under it, and make a not graceful but effective stand on log/raft repositioning extraction without swimming. The big pipe is still there creek-left before the tightening of the canyon. It is greatly helpful if you pre-cool the air in the raft to make sure it will stay fully inflated during this upper part cause there is no easy stopping point.

After that it was clear sailing except for one easily seen and portaged sweeper that appears could be run underneath left but don't take my word for it. I cleared the right half of it as best I could to maybe allow a scootaround but its prime for the next piece of wood to catch it. Down by the airport it looks worse than it is, lots of wood but never had to stop. Thanks to those paddlers that appear to be carrying chainsaws with them..

At current water level I think even the crazies here with bigger cajones than me would be satisfied and I still believe this to be the best day trip run from Anchorage for pure nonstop whitewater paddling without having to scout every 15 feet.

thomasb
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:12 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by thomasb » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:19 pm

Perfect non stop fun in the sun today @ 26.5. Tree lower down had been cut. No butt to rock. Good times.

erikhalfacre
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:47 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by erikhalfacre » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:45 pm

If anyone finds a green Gregory z35 on the creek, I lost mine off the front of the boat when I flipped and the packtach system popped loose. It has my phone and a water filter in it, so if you find and return it to me I will buy you a 12 pack.

I realize the chances of it being found are pretty close to nil, but it's worth a shot.

(907)277-0436

akww
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:13 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by akww » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:27 am

We had run this a week ago on a few rented rafts from alaska raft and kayak. Their rentable packrafts are fun but we were hoping for something a little more sporty, so we rented a few kayaks from REI. Problem is REI doesn't rent river kayaks just rec kayaks. At this point we thought we might as well try so we went for it. Big mistake, the 10ft rec kayaks weren't built white water and we lost one and then the other in the rescue attempt. Also lost was an NRS paddle, All the gear has REI all over it, if anyone sees it please give me a call. 785-410-5703 really appreciate it, thanks.

Gitzoak
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:32 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by Gitzoak » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:02 am

We found your gear, we returned a paddle and kayak into REI yesterday. The boat was upside down on a gravel bar. The seat was cracked but the hull is intact.

akww
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:13 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by akww » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:35 am

Can't thank you enough Gitzoak! We ended up pack rafting it the next day and found the other kayak as well. Incredibly appreciative of all your help, we know riding those things out isn't exactly fun. Definitely learned our lesson. Shoot me a text and there is something nice coming your way! 785-410-5703

Gerhardt
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:44 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by Gerhardt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:32 pm

Topher and I ran Glacier Creek this morning. We put in right below the hand tram, water level was great (~26.4). The entire creek is clear of any hazardous sweepers or strainers, with the exception of one strainer down by the airport (easily avoided if you take the correct fork in the river).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5Uuv1a5 ... ature=plcp

diverson
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 8:33 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by diverson » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:49 am

Kayak found on Glacier Creek.
Send message with details to claim.

JustinWholey
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:36 am

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by JustinWholey » Mon May 20, 2013 8:37 am

Floated Glacier Creek Thursday and Sunday. No snow bridges below the put-in below the tram. Bring ice grippers. The trail is a bit icy. Cut some branches off a log across the creek as mentioned by rupe 5/11/13. No portages necessary as of Sunday. Low water at about 320 cfs. Thanks for the post rupe!

rupe
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:11 pm

Re: Glacier Creek; Chugach Mtns.

Post by rupe » Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:56 pm

Rafted Glacier last night, Canyon is free of wood. Part by the airport does have some wood here and there, but never had to portage. Just choose the correct channel!

Most importantly, I found someone's hoop pieces at the take out. set of 4. Appears new-ish with the blue metal pieces. Call Ryan at 907-301-1736

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