We recommend that you wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants, an insulating layer for your upper body such as a fleece jacket or vest, or sweater, and a pair of high socks. We also recommend that you bring sunglasses, even if it is cloudy, and a camera with extra film and a backup battery.
Because space in the helicopter is limited everything that goes with you should fit inside the large hip pack that is provided. Since you will be active on the ice it is easiest if you leave behind anything that you won't need on the glacier. The hip packs have room for a camera or camcorder as well as a few, small personal items. Any other belongings can be kept at the heliport for safekeeping during your trip.
We fly A-Star 350 series helicopters that seat 6 passengers plus the pilot. Seating is arranged in the helicopter to comply with the helicopter's weight and balance requirements. Group size is kept small on all NorthStar trips. Normally group size is 12 guests or less, plus guides.
NorthStar operates trips on the Mendenhall, Taku, Hole-in-the-Wall, Thiel, Gilkey, Battle and Herbert glaciers. Landing and trekking sites vary depending on weather and glacier conditions. We select the trekking sites using safety and quality of the experience as the prime criteria.
The glaciers of the Juneau Icefield flow down to near sea level and most of the landing sites we use for the treks are below 2,000'. the flight takes off from sea level and generally does not exceed 6,000'.
NorthStar flies turbine A-Star helicopters. These aircraft are the standard in the air tour industry and are well suited for this type of flying. Our pilots are experienced, well trained and dedicated professionals whose top priority is the safety and comfort of our passengers. NorthStar is a member of the helicopter Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS). This organization sets flight standards that exceed the Federal Aviation Administration regulations and all members are regularly audited to verify compliance. NorthStar and the TOPS organization have an excellent safety record. Passengers regularly comment on how much they enjoyed the smooth, professional flight.
As with any active outdoor experience there is some risk involved, but no more than hiking on a trail for instance. The ice is very solid, hundreds of feet thick, and all of the hazards are visible so can be easily avoided. NorthStar provides the appropriate equipment for you experience as well as well-trained and experienced guides to teach you how to use the equipment and guide you safely across the ice.
NorthStar offers three different levels of treks to accommodate a broad range of physical abilities and time. The 1-hour Walkabout is the easiest, the 2-hour Trek has a moderate amount of physical activity and the 3-hour X-Trek is the most strenuous. All trips are geared to the level of the participants in the group. No previous climbing or glacier experience is necessary. The guides make it fun and will teach you everything you need to know for your trip.
Juneau is in the middle of a temperate rainforest. Weather here is often overcast and rainy. The average summer temperatures are in the 60's, but can range from the mid 40's to the mid 80's. Temperatures on the glacier are generally about 10 degrees colder than in town. In an average year we have to cancel 5-10% of our trips due to inclement weather conditions. if this occurs we do our best to reschedule passengers if the forecast looks better for another time. However, because weather conditions can vary immensely in different areas and because NorthStar has several different glaciers to land on, cancellations due to weather conditions are at NorthStar's discretion.
NorthStar caters to individuals and small groups, with personalized service, and longer trips that provide an in-depth learning and recreation experience. The proper mountaineering equipment, experienced guides and the longer time on the glacier allows you to explore in a way that is unique to the NorthStar trips.