Alaska: Land of Glaciers

One of many glaciers in Whittier, Alaska

Although the last ice age was 10,000 years ago, remnants of that frozen time still exist throughout Alaska.  There are over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, and 5% of the vast state is covered by ice.  In simple terms, glaciers are formed when it snows more in winter than it melts in summer.  The snow builds up year over year, and within just a decade the snow compacts into dense ice forming a glacier. 

We saw hundreds of glaciers on our trip through Canada and Alaska.  You can spot a glacier at a glance by its “cottage cheese” appearance and blue hue.  Glaciers appear blue because they absorb all colors of the visible light spectrum except blue, which is transmitted to our eyes.  Glaciers look like cottage cheese because the surface of glaciers often crack as a glacier slowly works its way down a mountain.  These crevasses appear small from a distance, but up close they can be too wide to jump and hundreds of feet deep.  Falling into a glacier crevasse is usually a fatal mistake, because the body often succumbs to hypothermia before a rescue attempt can be made.

Please check out our updated photo tour which includes lots of glacier pictures:

Portage Valley
Whittier
Prince William Sound
Chugach State Park
Mat-Su Valley
Glenn Highway

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