If you are the adventurous type who loves ice climbing, then Valdez Alaska is the place to be. It is nothing short of spectacular with the best amount and quality of ice in the world. The rich history of ice climbing began here way back in the 1970s. The world-class climbers like Jeff Lowe started visiting this place when word got out about Keystone Canyon’s massive, multi-pitch blue ice.
How to Reach Valdez?
Valdez is 305 miles from Anchorage and there are several options to reach there, the quickest being to fly to Valdez Airport. The drive takes five to seven hours depending upon the road conditions and the weather, but it is beautiful. Once you pass Matanuska Glacier area, which is actually a curving mountain section, the road flattens and is straight up to Glennallen. Once there, the views of Mt. Drum and Mt. Sanford are just awesome with glaciers everywhere. You will also pass Horsetail and Bridal Veil waterfalls on the way and they are simply mesmerizing. It’s the Richardson Highway that will eventually take you to the town of Valdez.
There are many hotels and lodges where you can book a room for your accommodation. But, if you decide to camp instead of staying in a hotel, the flat area south of Keystone Canyon about milepost 10 from Valdez is the best spot. You can easily head from there to the town for a high-calorie breakfast before heading out to the strenuous ice climbing activity.
Other Activities to Indulge in Beside Ice Climbing
Glacier Cruises: Valdez has five glaciers nearby, which makes for some great glacier cruises. The area around Prince William Sound also has some wildlife to see. The water at some places on this side is extremely calm, which is not the same if you take a cruise out of Seward.
Water Sports: The nearby rivers are excellent for river sports. You can enjoy rafting and kayaking in these rivers. The locals frequent these rivers for fishing and you get fresh salmons and halibut. They also indulge in a lot of fishing derbies.
Winter Sports: Chugach Mountains receive nearly 600 to 900 inches of snow every winter. This makes it perfect not only for ice-climbing but also for snowcat and heli-skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
For those who come here primarily for ice climbing, there are few mixed climbs. Those interested in mixed climbing can take routes around the Anchorage Bowl, which is known for better quality and stiffer routes. More than half of ice climb routes here are grade 3 or easier and rest falls among tougher routes going up to grade 6.
If you love some ice adventure, then this place should definitely be on your bucket list.