Rush Redux

On the fly: heli-hiking the St. Elias Mountians

May 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Peak moments: heli-hiking in the St. Elias Mountains

Flying over the St. Elias peaks in Kluane National Park and Reserve, you'd never guess the Ice Age ended some 10,000 years ago. Eighty-two percent of the park is glaciated, but at 8,500 square miles, there's plenty of lower-elevation terra firma to explore. From Haines Junction, on the eastern edge of the park, Paddle/Wheel Adventures can arrange guided heli-hiking on the 5,600-foot Kluane Plateau (just outside the park). It's a quick 20-minute flight but long enough to see the Dall sheep that dance Dean Potter-like up Kluane's sheer mountainsides. Once you've landed on the plateau's sprawling alpine tundra, the choice is yours: Hike the five- or six-hour "trail" back down to the road, or stick to the ridge and rendezvous with the chopper farther south at Outpost Mountain. Either way, the views of Kluane Lake, the Slims River, and Mount Vulcan's hanging glaciers are dizzying. But stay focused: Griz sightings are common in these parts.
OUTFITTER Paddle/Wheel Adventures (867-634-2683, runs heli-hiking trips on the Kluane Plateau starting at $350 per person for an afternoon, including lunch and guide.