WHAT TO BRING. Valdez Ice Fest provides anchored ropes, pro instructors, shuttle transportation from town to the climbing venues and organizes evening activities. Participants are required to equip themselves with a working harness, helmet, climbing boots (double plastic or mountaineering leather that accept crampons), 12-point climbing crampons, belay device and a locking carabiner, and preferably your own ice tools. There will be demo ice tools available but they are first come, first served so better safe than sorry, bring your own. You can rent climbing equipment from Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, the outdoor program at Alaska Pacific University (907-564-8614), University of Alaska Fairbanks Outdoor Adventures, or REI Anchorage. Important Note: Businesses do not rent harnesses so you will need to borrow or buy one for the event.
HOW TO DRESS. It’s winter. In Alaska. Layer for comfort and performance. You will get toasty climbing but a chill wind blows pretty consistently in the canyon so be sure to wear a wicking layer next to skin. Ice can be drippy so waterproof/windproof outer shells are recommended. A hooded puffy down jacket is desirable to wear while belaying or socializing between pitches. Be sure to have eyewear or goggles. Ice chips and reflection off the ice and snow can damage unprotected eyes.
Driving. From Fairbanks or Anchorage the drive is 6 hours +/-. Like anyplace, the drive can be longer depending on weather and road conditions.
Flying. Ravn Air is the only commercial airline in/out of Valdez. Be aware that winter weather can ground flights, sometimes for days.
Ferry. You can travel the Alaska Marine Highway. Depart Whittier on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 12:30 p.m.; arrive in Valdez at 6:16 p.m. The return would cut short your time at ice fest as it leaves Valdez on Sunday Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. and arrives in Whittier at 4:45. One-way fare base price is $73; taking your car or truck aboard adds to the cost. For example, we priced a one-way ferry ticket for folks traveling in a 2010 Subaru legacy and the price was $207. Remember rough seas during winter storms can cause cancellations.
WARM ROOM/HOT SHOWER. 2019 lodging rates being finalized. We will let you know when we confirm prices. Wait until then to be sure you get best prices during ice fest.
Mention “ice fest” to get lodging discounts at these properties.
Best Western Harbor Inn, 907.835.3434; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mountain Sky Hotel 907-835-4445, email@example.com;
Totem Hotel and Suites 907-835-4443, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Place on Coho B&B 907-831-1077, 907-835-2106; email@example.com
OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU’RE IN VALDEZ
Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing. FREE rentals of snowshoes, skate and classic ski gear are available at the Prince William Sound College Fitness Center at 303 Lowe St. We have tons of groomed trails right in town and out to the ocean. For a small daily fee, you can also use the aerobic and weight room, take yoga and other classes and shower off afterward. Click to see fitness center schedule.
Swimming. The Valdez Swimming Pool is free and open to the public. It’s located in the High School at 319 Robe River Drive. Click this link to see the daily schedule.
Backcountry. The Thompson Pass backcountry is legendary for epic skiing, snowboarding and snowmachining. Be sure to bring all your avalanche gear and check the report from the Valdez Avalanche Information Center.
Fat biking. Bring your fat bike! You can tour most Nordic Trails in town and make up your own Tour de Berg (icebergs that is) at Valdez Glacier Lake. Depending on conditions you may be able to ride snow machine tracks on Thompson Pass. Come back in April for the Chugach Fat Bike Bash when we shuttle riders by snowmachine some 3000 vertical feet for our world-class downhill championships. For saner riders, we offer a parade, harbor race (any bike will do), cross-country race, poker run and citizen’s downhill in town.