The Tatshenshini-Alsek Expedition is a journey back to the ice age down a river forgotten by time. Cutting through the Earth’s largest non-polar ice cap and past some of its most active glaciers, the Tatshenshini- Alsek creates an intensely dramatic, overwhelmingly beautiful, and almost primeval river valley. Protected by five U.S. and Canadian national parks and preserves and part of a 25-million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is part of the largest protected wilderness area in the world. The Tatshenshini-Alsek has been called one of the last truly wild river systems on Earth and the trip was named the #1 river trip in the world by National Geographic. We are truly honored to be able to show people this place.
Most rivers run from the mountains to the sea and from cooler and higher elevations to the warmer lowlands. The Tatshenshini and the Alsek run through the mountains and to the sea and from sunnier forested hill country to the glacier filled landscape and alpine climate of Alsek Lake. The trip begins in Canada where the Tatshenshini (or ‘Tat’) is a small river winding through heavily forested canyons and mountains. After an intimate canyon and the most difficult whitewater of the trip, the river begins doubling in size daily, the canyon opens up to epic proportions, and the journey between the towering Alsek and St. Elias mountain ranges truly begins. After the confluence with the Alsek, the now enormous river flows into Alaska, under the shadow of 15,325’ Mount Fairweather (the world’s tallest coast range mountain), into the ice age world of Alsek Lake, and eventually to Dry Bay and into the Gulf of Alaska.
Throughout the trip you may feel as if you are watching geologic change in real time. The epic struggle between water, ice, erosion, and deposition is clearly visible and many times audible. Massive glaciers carve their way down the valleys right to the river’s edge. Calving, creaking, scraping and breaking away pieces of the mountains and shoving them into the canyon – battling the river for temporary control of the valleys. Sun, rain, and wind can cycle rapidly through – adding power to the river, snow to the high peaks and glaciers, and chapters to the stories of river journeys. All the while brown and black bear, moose, mountain goats, wolves and wolverines roam the shores and canyons; five species of salmon swim the canyons and tributaries; and bald eagles patrol the sky.
If all this sounds epic, it truly is… There are not many places left on earth where you feel so small and can see and feel the earth changing right before your eyes. But there are also the gentle moments and more tranquil details. Sunny afternoons in fields of wildflowers, the smooth power of the current sweeping you through a massive landscape, the surreal way the light plays across the glacial ice, watching a bear lazily forage for berries at dusk, late sunsets over the craggy peaks, majestic icebergs silhouetted in the moonlight and the sound of waves gently lapping against them, the clink of 10,000 year old ice in your favorite evening cocktail, the flickering of the campfire, and the simple joy of being outside in one of the world’s most wild and beautiful places.
Our Tatshenshini-Alsek river trip is done with Momentums signature style, attention to detail, and handcrafted quality. With comfortable and innovative wilderness camping, creative menus, personal service and hospitality, one of the most experienced (and friendly) guide staffs in the world, and with all the little details and touches we are known for. Our itinerary is designed to allow for plenty of time to explore this wild place, with layover days and time built in for spectacular hiking, glacier exploration, wildlife viewing, and simply relaxing. And while the area is extremely remote and the weather can be ever changing, you do not need to be an experienced adventurer, an athlete, or to have spent a night under the stars to join us. Participants just need to be adventurous, in reasonable physical condition, and excited to see one of the planet’s last frontiers.
Join us for a journey to one of the world’s most epic wilderness areas. A trip through a primeval landscape dominated by glaciers, high peaks, massive rivers, and wild animals. An ice age wilderness where change happens with the shrug of a glacier and where we are just a temporary and seasonal visitor. It is a chance to truly get away and completely unplug.
Please Note: Our Tatshenshini River trips are run by Momentum Alaska; A partnership between Pete Wallstrom, the owner of Momentum River Expeditions, and guide Erik Meldrum.