White Thunder

Jun 23, 2017

Dai Mar Tamarack, Expedition Leader, Safari Quest

This week Dawes Glacier gave us an amazing show.

On our northbound trip from Seattle to Juneau, we were treated to some pretty spectacular calving events, capping off our incredible two week journey on the Safari Quest.

Dawes Glacier Calving in Alaska

To get to the face of this active tidewater glacier, you have to travel 30-plus miles through a narrow fjord lined with multi-thousand foot cliffs.

Once the glacier comes into view, it is like a river frozen in time, snaking its way back up and out of sight around the massive mountains.

Dawes Glacier in Alaska

This is when we launch a skiff filled with excitement.

We slowly worked our way in between all the floating ice, marveling at the different shades of blue and white. We hugged the side of the canyon that has a bare rock face revealing the previous destruction of the glacier.

Skiff at Dawes Glacier, Alaska

Horizontal scrapes show where the powerful glacial ice scraped off hard bedrock on its path down to the ocean.

About a quarter mile from the face of this massive glacier is where we stop and wait.

We didn’t wait long as the glacier began speaking to us in creaks and groans. Then the thunderous roars arrived.

We call them, “white thunder.”

Glacier Calving in Alaska

At first one bit of glacier calved. Then another. Then we all watched in amazement as one little piece turned into a giant tower of ice thundering down into the ocean with a splash that sent water and ice chunks flying in every direction and a multitude of waves towards our skiff.

It’s a life experience to see and hear these calving glaciers break apart. And Southeast Alaska is one of the best places in the world to experience it.

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