Here’s a photo from a trip to southeast Alaska I took, of the Hubbard Glacier calving into Russell Fjord at Gilbert Point, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, near Yakutat. To watch a 250′ high wall of ice crash into the ocean is simply awesome. And I mean awesome like ‘inspires awe’ … absolutely jaw-dropping stuff.
The Hubbard Glacier is one of the few advancing glaciers in Alaska right now, as most are retreating under the glare of warming climate; the cycles of glaciers that calve into the sea are also dependent upon dynamics of the sea floor, as well as other complicated elements. The glaciers are often at various stages of a retreat-advance cycle, and the Hubbard is currently advancing. A decade or so ago it actually advanced across the very narrow neck of Russell Fjord, known as Gilbert Point, and blocked off the Fjord – drastically affecting the ecosystem there. The pressure built up in the Fjord eventually pushed back, and the glacier washed out.
It’s an incredible place to sit and watch the absolutely breath-taking power of ice. These sheets of ice crack off the wall and hurtle into the ocean below; it’s pretty intense to witness. As a photographer, you also need to be on your toes, and not get lost in the viewfinder shooting photos. Within seconds of this calving ice, waves careened across the ocean surface toward the boat, and I had to make a rapid retreat. Intense stuff.
I look forward getting back to this area, near Icy Bay, this summer, and shooting this amazing landscape some more. It’s an incredible experience.