Gulkana Glacier) exist primarily because cold temperatures result in low ablation. In 1966 scientists with the USGS began making direct measurements of surface mass balance at Wolverine Glacier, one of two "benchmark glaciers" in Alaska. Snowfall is the dominant form of precipitation and usually accumulates on the glacier from September through mid-June. After spending a couple of hours getting our gear in order, we hit the trail and soon are delicately walking across the swaying suspension bridge just up river. Since 1975 both the stakes and the glacier surface elevations at the actual index sites have been surveyed to allow calculations of velocity and surface elevation change. The following morning, rain drives us into a diner for breakfast and coffee, where we talked of our next climb: The White Princess. Wolverine Glacier and South Cascade Glacier are the other two monitoring sites. The USGS even built a hut at the 5000’ level high in the cirque back in 1968, which has served as a haven for climbers and skiers ever since. It’s a story of family and community, of hard work and strength, of hardship and survival, and of playfulness and joy. I get some great views of the bigger peaks in the area before the storm intensifies, sending me running back to the hut. Balance studies were relatively intensive until the mid-1970's, after which spatial sampling was reduced to three sites used as indices for mass balance. Once the debris thins out, we are surprised to find that the bare ice is textured nicely with dirt and sand and that travel with out crampons is not only acceptable, but desirable. Daily average temperatures from that era have an accuracy of about ±1.0°C, and annual precipitation has an estimated accuracy of about ±0.005 m (Mayo and others, 1992; Kennedy, 1995). The hike was supposed to be 3 miles and mostly flat, but the views were great, and I suggested we may be able to get some ice climbs in if we started early enough. Gulkana Glacier is located in the Alaska Range (continental climate) and Wolverine Glacier is located in the Kenai Mountains (maritime climate). The study monitors climate, glacial movement, glacial runoff, glacier mass-balance, and stream runoff. This ramp is the key to the route. The incredible numbers of Moose and Caribou here is staggering. Soon we are above the firn line and after sticking my leg through a snow bridge covering a menacing crevasse, we rope up and get to some proper glacier travel. Daily precipitation records are complicated by thermal expansion of the antifreeze water solution. Radar system to measure snow thickness, April 2014, Driving the radar system across the upper glacier, April 2014, Thickness and density snow-pit, April 2015, Lunar eclipse over Icefall Peak, April 2014, Northern Lights over the camp, April 2015, GPS to survey ablation stakes, April 2014, GPS survey of an ablation stake, April 2014, Gulkana Gaging Station Data (USGS 15478040), Incoming and Outgoing Short-wave Radiation. Measurements began on Gulkana Glacier during the early 1960's with the University of Alaska Gulkana Glacier Project (Péwé and Reger, 1983). Again I lead off to the right, this time from our lower position below the serac. Above us looks difficult indeed; a step across the narrowest part of the crevasse leads to vertical water ice and rotten neve and leads to a rotting honeycombed ramp. During climate changes, coastal glaciers are more sensitive to changes in precipitation (or the storm tracks that bring precipitation), whereas interior glaciers are more sensitive to changes in temperature. Create Page. Sundog Frames The Pointed Peak Of A Usgs Gulkana Glacier Research Hut, Interior Alaska, USA. 1 Location of USGS Benchmark Glaciers. (1998) and Josberger et al. Since 1966, part of the Gulkana data set (net balance, accumulation, ablation, accumulation area ratio (AAR), and equilibrium line altitude (ELA)) has been published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (Kasser, 1967; Muller, 1977; Haeberli, 1985; Haeberli and Müller, 1988; Haeberli and Hoelzle, 1993). Measured winter snow balances and annual balances from 1966-77 are reported by Meier and others (1980). These data constitute the longest continuous set of mass-balance data in North America (Josberger and others, 2007) which are used to understand glacier … Gulkana Glacier A b = 31.5km , A2 g = 16.7km2 Wolverine Glacier A b = 24.6km , A 2 g = 16.1km Paxson Seward 19 Trims Camp Seward Fig. GULKANA GLACIER. Gulkana Glacier is one of three detailed long-term glacier monitoring sites run by the USGS in a study on climate change and glacier-related hydrologic processes. More food and reading ensue and we figure the storm will have blown itself out by tonight, so we pack for climbing the following day and hit the sack early. Location: Latitude: 63°16'3.91"N, Longitude: 145°25'15.97"W The untold tales of paths trodden, fears conquered and battles won. I pack up the tent, and load my pack and am back on the ice by 3 o’clock. (It is currently receding about 0.4 meters each year.) Direct field measurements are combined with weather data and imagery analyses to calculate the seasonal and annual mass balance of each glacier. For now, all I wish for is to leave this cirque. Daily average temperatures range from a low of -35°C to a high of 16°C. It only takes about 30 minutes to gain the ridge and the view I was looking for revealed itself. GULKANA GLACIER. The book is a pleasure to read and is full of vivid descriptions of a life and landscape that has mostly disappeared; one that during that period was indicative of the times. Then back to the dryness of the hut for reading some of my book “Shadows On The Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native’s Life Along The River”, the story of Sydney Huntington and his growing up on the Koyukuk River in the Brooks Range during the 1920’s and 30’s. Gulkana Gaging Station Data (USGS 15478040): Location: Latitude: 63°14'27"N, Longitude: 145°28'03"W., 1,125 m altitude, in SW 1/4 sec.28, T.19 S., R.12 E., Hydrologic Unit 19020102, on left bank about 1 km downstream from terminus of Gulkana Glacier and 23 km north of Paxson, Alaska. That did the trick and soon I was able to drift into sleep. Dennis, as I found out on a climb on Silverado Peak in the North Cascades a few years ago, snores terribly. For this reason, I cannot sleep within 150 feet of him. Glacier,withanareaof945km2).Glaciersstretchfromsea level up to 4000ma.s.l. Gulkana Glacier is one of USGS’s two “benchmark” glaciers in Alaska, for which it has been patiently gathering data on an annual basis for the last fifty years. After a short lunch break, we untie the coils used for traveling the crevassed sections below us and decide to set up a belay and climb the full rope length. Daily precipitation catch can be over 100 mm. Data for 1992 and 1993 were published by March and Trabant (1996 and 1997) and for 1994 by March (1998). We are moving by 4 am and cramponing the perfect ice and neve towards the Moore Icefall, where it becomes clear some tricky route finding will be a necessity in order to bypass the many clusters of seracs and crevasses which block our way to the upper NW Face of Icefall Peak. Nunatak is on bedrock between the main trunk and a western cirque at 1725 m. The sensors installed measure: Ridge-top weather station (Latitude 63°18'N, Longitude 145°24'W). 19 708 Pages. Current data available from the Gulkana weather station (USGS 15478038) includes: The original weather station had analogue instruments with strip-chart recorders. Gulkana Glacier is located along the south flank of the eastern Alaska Range. The hut elevation is some 500 feet below both the pass to the Gulkana Glacier and Yeti Pass. Our original plan was much cooler. I then climb upward to meet the giant and perplexing crevasse it it’s terminus with the steepening headwall to the right. I ask Dennis to join me, but he declines, so in I go alone. The Canwell Glacier, 4 miles wide and maybe 20 miles long sits 2500 feet below me, is crevassed significantly, and splits into three branches just up valley, where more un-named peaks push from it’s jagged dormancy. Skiing on the Gulkana Glacier Alaska. The tiny A-frame structure sits atop a large moraine, perhaps 400 feet above the ice, and after another hour of crossing through the crevasse fields and climbing the talus we reach the hut and enter. Available data for this site . Gulkana Glacier (lat 63°15' N., 1,700-m mean equilibrium line altitude) had a winter balance of 1.05 m, approximately normal for this glacier; the final annual balance was -0.30 m. I lead upwards toward the upper wall which is steepening significantly. I gaze out over the growing shadows of the Moore Icefall and the hanging glacier on Peak 7680 and vow to myself to come back to this place to climb it. Weaving in and out of the crevasses brings us to the first of several steeper seracs that must be negotiated and sometimes climbed directly. After leaving Haines and driving my thirty year old decrepit Toyota pickup across the Yukon to the Northwest Territories border, followed by penetrating the Alaskan Interior and riding my bicycle into the Wrangell Mountains by way of the splendid Nabesna Road, it was time to get down to some mountaineering. It is about finding solitude and beauty in remote places. My attitude dissolves entirely and suddenly I am in a very bad mood. N of Paxson, Alaska Range. In Delta that night the sunset on the Alaska Range impresses us and a deep sleep comes easily. A good landmark is the Gulkana Glacier pass as the hut is slightly down glacier from a point directly across from the pass. The 50-year mass balance records for these three USGS . The glacier, looming 1300 meters in elevation, is located along the south flank of the eastern Alaska Range. I peer from the tent and the delicate purple alpenglow splashes down upon this amazing cirque. It feels bad… the ramp is skimmed with honeycombed ice and underneath is rotting neve which crumbles as I plant tools into it. A dramatic example of glacier retreat: top photograph shows lower Gulkana Glacier on July 1910; bottom photograph shows view from same location on July 1952. Our aim was to hike into an exceptionally easy area to access know as the Gulkana Group that is situated a few flat miles from the highway. The steep walls of the hut are a notebook for every climber and skier that has entered this cirque for the last 49 years. Either way, we decide to make the decision in the morning and to make a bivi, but the last good flat spots are a half mile back, so reluctantly we head back down valley a bit to throw down our evening ghetto. Passing through Delta, we stop for gas and a cup of coffee before continuing south and into the spectacular scenery the next 70 miles has to offer; to me, it is one of the best places in all road accessible Alaska. print PDF. Detailed results from 1966 and 1967 are reported by Meier and others (1971) and Tangborn and others (1977), respectively. The … HDR. Getting to the same spot, I feel the risk is not worth the potential disaster of falling off this face and I retreat. News and opinions on the environment in the Haines area and greater North. It is the largest single crevasse I have ever seen. The USGS reports that the state’s glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice annually, equal to the amount of water needed to fill Yankee Stadium 150,000 times each year. Photos by F. Moffit and T. Péwé. A good landmark is the Gulkana Glacier pass as the hut is slightly down glacier from a point directly across from the pass. Before October 1968, published as Gulkana Creek near Paxson. 5A). Elevation Range: Approximately 1160-2470 meters Field visits to measure and maintain stakes at the three index sites are made each spring, at the onset of the melt season, and again in early autumn, near its completion. My boots are mostly soaked but not caring, I stagger the last couple of flat miles to the truck where I collapse and take off my sopping boots. 1967 hydrologic and balance years ... station-shelter hut, air temperature and precipitation instrumentation, and the commencement of mass balance measurements. It certainly adds to the remoteness and sense of adventure that being in these majestic mountains affords. Stream Site. 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