The word “hike” typically brings to mind images of lush, green mountains or rocky, sand-colored landscapes. However, such an activity can be done on ice too – something that adventure seekers looking for a new outdoor challenge may find very interesting.

Indeed, glacier hiking is a different and no less challenging adventure as different equipment, skills, and vistas are involved. But, at the same time, it involves a physical dynamic that is still familiar to climbers and trekkers. After all, you still use your legs to go from point A to B and will encounter different types of terrain along the way.

ALETSCH GLACIER 3
Photo taken at the Aletsch Glacier

Ancient Ground

One defining characteristic of glacier hiking is the fact that you walk to your destination on ice, and not just any ordinary ice. The Aletsch Glacier, for example, has been formed thousands of years ago. As such, you’re essentially treading on ancient ground when you’re doing a glacier walk.

Glaciers Aren’t Forever

Glacial trail, being one consisting of frozen water, is bound to melt away at some point in the future. With the global warming phenomenon getting stronger each year, there’s a chance that certain glacier climbs will no longer be as available as they are now. Mt. Everest will still be standing years and years from now, but the likes of the Grindelwald Glacier, for example, may melt in a few years (or shorter if the global warming continues to worsen). Needless to say, doing a glacier hike should be a priority on your climbing bucket list these days, before glacier trails become unhikeable or, worse, gone.

Mountaineer’s Frozen Delight

If you’re the kind who loves a good hiking challenge, glacier trails should be your cup of tea. The icy terrain can be unpredictable as the elements and various weather conditions may leave cracks in the trail. There also are crevasses, seracs, and varying textures in the ice’s surface that you need to deal with, making the experience similar to an obstacle course.

Fortunately, special equipment for every glacier hiking need is already out on the market, so hiking on ice isn’t as dangerous as it sounds, especially when you got a guide knowledgeable of the route helping you out.

A Different Vista

Your pictures will definitely stand out from the pack as glacier hiking is no ordinary adventure. You got shimmering white landscapes as your background – something that definitely is different from those you’ve seen on the more conventional trails. It’s almost as if you’ve just summited the tallest mountain in the world. The unique vista will give you another perspective of the world and give you many opportunities for reflection and inspiration. Such a majestic sight may even spark new ideas or personal resolutions that will only make your life better!

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Picture taken at the Aletsch Glacier

Glacier hiking, like mountain trekking, requires good preparation. To help you get comfortable and more confident walking on ice, try practicing walking with crampons on snowy terrain during winter or at the nearest location that still has ice. You can also try using an ice ax so handling one won’t be new to you on the actual trip.

You should also prepare your body by improving your fitness with cardio-based exercises. You can do running or lift some weights, for example. The latter may be helpful considering you may be using ropes (and climbing or going down using one) on a glacier hike.

If you’re going with a group, see to it your fellow hikers are also preparing well for the adventure. You should also agree on a route and a guide for the journey. If it’s your first time, you can pick trails suitable for your current skills and experience. You can discuss your options with a capable glacier hiking guide before finalizing your decision.

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