Monday, June 24, 2013

Landing on Mt McKinley’s Ruth Glacier

096(Jan) On Thursday we left Denali N.P and headed down towards Anchorage but stopped at the Talkeetna-Denali Visitor’s Center because Chuck & I needed to run up to Talkeetna to get our mail. Several others wanted to go up and explore the town. And that’s when it happened! I was talking to a local gal and asking what there was to do in town and she mentioned several things and then said '”or you could fly up to a glacier with this guy”……David Lee just happened to be picking up his mail, too. David is the owner of Sheldon Air Service and takes people up on Mt McKinley’s Ruth Glacier. Chuck was soon asking questions and struck up a deal to fill the seats on a010 small plane 094that David was flying up to the Ruth Glacier with several mountain climbers. Chuck & I wanted to go and there was room for 3 so we called our friend Judy who kept saying that she wanted to do this.  Judy came by in her car with Sally and Ron & Bernita and of course, everyone wanted to go. Ron went over to the Sheldon office and soon had it arranged for all of us to go on the same plane! We were happy that we got to share the experience together! They tried to get ahold of Gregg & Dean who had stayed behind with the rigs but could not reach them. Darn!

We were all VERY excited!! Judy, Bernita and I 108bought ‘Glacier Girls’ T-shirts, Chuck and Sally opted for long sleeved ‘No Bad Days.’  We were so pumped and very ready for our flight! David got us all seated and strapped in with our head gear on and off into the wild blue yonder we went toward McKinley!! Did I write about how excited we were?!

We took off from the Talkeetna Airport and headed North Northwest to Denali National Park. We flew over rivers, forests and wetlands before flying up into the Alaska Mountain Range towards Mt. McKinley. It was just breath taking being up so close to and in the mountain range. At one point we flew between two 5,000 feet sheer rock walls on either side. We flew into the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre, a bowl shaped area between peaks and several glaciers, and landed smoothly on the Ruth Glacier! Wow!! It was incredible looking up and around. We stood silently for a time an listened to the water rushing several hundred feet below our feet under the glacier. We heard a loud crack and knew that a chunk of ice was breaking off on one of the glaciers in the area. We had great fun walking on the wet snow in our glacier boots making snow balls and snow angels. We were just 6 miles from Mt. McKinley’s peak which rose about 15,000 feet above us as we were standing on the Ruth Glacier at about 5,400 feet elevation. Amazing!!

069Chuck & Jan with the DeHavilland Beaver. 008Flying over the rivers and lakes out of Talkeetna 081Mt McKinley & the Alaska Range.
098Two glaciers meeting and becoming the Ruth Glacier 141Bernita, Sally, Judy & Jan 151Chuck, our pilot David Lee and Ron

171167All to soon it was time to board the plane and head back. We lifted off and followed the Ruth glacier, pictured at left, out of the mountains. We were fortunate to see two grizzlies on the side of the mountains and many moose grazing below us as we got back to the end of the glacier, pictures at right, and then flat land.

Our two hour adventure was awesome! David Lee and his wife Holly Sheldon Lee own and operate SAS. Read about them on their website.  If you ever get the chance to do this, we would highly recommend Sheldon Air Service!  Everyone in the office was enthusiastic and wonderful to work with. We felt especially lucky to have David as our pilot. With 34 years of flight experience in and around Denali, he shared with us his vast knowledge of the mountains and answered each question we asked. What a wonderful day!


Jim said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog for several years. Todays post brought back some great personal memories. About 30 years ago, I was one of those mountain climbers flown by Sheldon Air onto the Kahiltna Glacier to start our successful climb to the summit of Denali.
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Jim & Nanc said...

What a fantastic trip. Great pics!!!!!

Bobbie and Jim said...

What an exciting adventure. Well written, too,I could feel your happiness!

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