One of the best things I did in Alaska was ride on a helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. It was my first time ever being on a helicopter. Oh yeah, and on a glacier.
On the Wednesday of my cruise in Alaska, we arrived in Juneau. Shortly after breakfast, we made our way off the ship to meet with our tour representative for the Mendenhall Glacier excursion. We were transported by coach bus to Temsco Helicopters where we watched a short safety video, put on shoe coverings (to walk on the glacier), and little packs around our waists which were life vests (because we would be flying over water).
We were grouped together for our respective helicopters and given assigned seats based on weight. I was in the middle in the back. The ride was amazing! I was a little nervous beforehand because I had never been on a helicopter before. I wasn’t sure if it would be a rough ride or what, but it was very smooth and the views were spectacular. While we waited outside for the helicopters to land, I realized just how powerful they are. It is so loud and the wind they create is crazy! They had warned now to walk towards the back of the helicopter because those blades become invisible when in rotation since they are going so fast. They were not joking – it doesn’t even look like a blur – there literally does not look like anything there!!
The ride was maybe 10 minutes long.It was amazing up there and I would definitely go on another helicopter ride in the future!
Down below you can see the glacier guides and the groups of people who are waiting to go back to Temsco.
The helicopters landed right on the glacier and we made our way out. It was not slippery at all! The ground just crunched a little under our feet like if you were walking on icy snow.
The temperature wasn’t that cold there. I think one of the guys said it was around 30F there, but it was super windy! The wind definitely made it feel colder.
Most of the glacier is this beautiful blue color and just the top layer is white. It is very solid and we were even encouraged to jump around on it! Stay tuned for an upcoming YouTube video where you can see me jumping! The glacier also has small pools/puddles of water, which we were told we could drink if we wanted to. Nothing cleaner than pure glacial water right? I didn’t drink any, but my brother did.
We stayed on Mendenhall Glacier for about 20-25 minutes before we were picked up by the helicopters to head back. It was a short trip, but I think it’s a good amount of time. They want you to be able to enjoy your time on the glacier before you get cold. If they leave you there for longer and you get cold, I think it ruins the overall experience. Then, all you’re thinking about is that you want to be somewhere warm and not windy and thinking less about how amazing it is that you’re on a glacier! The guides stay there all day and I think I heard one of them say they’re there sometimes for 10-12 hours. I don’t know how they do it. I mean, I saw that have a small tent which I guess they can take breaks in and get a break from the wind, but still that’s a long time to be out there.
This was hands down the best excursion I went on in Alaska and I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Juneau. How many people can say they took a helicopter to a glacier and that they got to walk around on said glacier?!