FAQ’s

+ Why join an Above & Beyond Alaska trip?

We operate independently of the Cruise Ships and are able to offer high quality, small group trips for those who want to experience the true spirit of Alaska.  Being a small, independent company allows us to be flexible and modify our trips to meet each client’s needs.  Additionally, our staff are professionally trained guides who are intimately familiar with the ocean and mountain environments and the majority of whom were born and raised in Alaska.

+ Do I need prior experience to go on your guided adventures?

No experience is necessary for our trips and we cater to all ages and abilities.  However, you do need to meet the physical requirements outlined in our trip descriptions on our website and have an appetite for adventure. Our guides are trained to teach you the basics of glacier trekking, ice climbing, kayaking, or camping.   It is our responsibility and job to fully evaluate every client’s ability and fitness condition the day of the trip and deem whether they are physically fit enough to participate.  We reserve the right to cancel any participant before the trip begins who does not meet our physical requirements and who we feel would be a safety concern.

+ What is your minimum age requirement?

Our minimum age requirement varies by trip type and whether is a regular trip or a private trip.  Note that we charge an additional fee for private trips.  Please refer to the “private option” pages of our trips.

  • Mendenhall Glacier Trek – 10 years old (8 for private trip)
  • Alpine Glacier Adventure – 8 years old
  • Glacier Lake Paddle – 8 years old (6 for private trip)
  • Tongass Coast Kayak – 8 years old (6 for private trip)
  • Admiralty Brown Bear & Kayak – 12 years old (8 for private trip)
  • Channel Islands Marine Park Paddle – 8 years old (6 for private trip)

We do not have a maximum age requirement as age is relative.  The only requirement is that older clients are still physically fit and capable of completing the trips.  Please see the trip descriptions or contact our office for more information.

Additional notes:  If you are interested in booking a private trip all members of the group (children or grandparents) need to be physically fit and must meet the requirements outlined in our trip descriptions.

+ I am traveling solo, can I join an ABAK trip?

Solo travelers are welcome to join on any non-private scheduled trip.  However, our trips require a minimum of two people, so if there is not a scheduled departure with other clients available then you would either have to find a different trip or pay for two people.  If you are the first to request a specific departure, we will take a reservation and attempt to add additional clients to the trip.

+ How many people are in a group?

Group size depends on the type of trip.

  • For our Glacier Treks, Tongass Coast Kayak, and AdmiraltyBrown Bear Viewing & Kayak trips the number of clients will range from a minimum of 2 clients to a maximum of 12.  For trips with 1-6 clients there will be one guide and for 7-12 clients there will be two guides.  We can customize a private trip if you have a group larger than 12.
  • On the Mendenhall Glacier Lake Self Guided Kayak we can only accommodate up to 8 clients per departure time due to permitting restrictions.
  • The Premium Kayak and Whale Watch trips have a maximum of 6 clients.  With advanced notice it may be possible to do larger private groups, please call to inquire.
+ What gear do I need to bring?

We provide all the gear on our trips except for personal clothing and hiking boots.  In regards to weather, we recommend you prepare for rain and hope for sunshine.  Due to the cool, damp climate it is best NOT to wear cotton and instead, wear clothing made of polyester, wool, fleece, nylon, polypropylene, and/or capilene.

WE PROVIDE

  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Trip Specific Gear
    • Glacier Trips:  backpack, helmet, harness, ice axe, crampons, trekking pole
    • Kayak Trips:  kayaks, PFD (life jacket), spray skirt, paddle, rubber boots, paddling mitts, and safety gear
    • Bear Viewing:  binoculars and spotting scope, rubber boots
  • Food and Water (The food provided is subject to change and varies day to day – below is the typical offering)
    • Glacier Trips:  bagel/cream cheese, granola bar, string cheese, fruit snacks, mini chocolates, water bottle
    • Tongass Coast Kayak Trips:  granola bar, fruit snacks, string cheese, mini chocolates, water bottle
    • Mendenhall Lake Self Guided Kayak:  granola bar, mini chocolates, water bottle
    • Admiralty Island Brown Bear and Kayak:  a full lunch of a combination of sandwiches, bagels, a variety of snacks, and water (varies by guide preference and client allergies, dietary restrictions, and/or requests)

YOU PROVIDE

TOP LAYERS

  • T-Shirt
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Insulating Layer (i.e. Fleece Jacket)
  • Gloves (fleece liner type)
  • Warm Hat
  • Sunglasses

BOTTOM LAYERS

  • Long Underwear (weather dependent)
  • Hiking Pants
  • Hiking Boots (for glacier trips; preferably high top)*

* Running shoes, particularly lightweight ones are strongly discouraged.  “Toe Shoes” such as Five Fingers are NOT allowed.

** REI has a good, informative tutorial for hiking boots.  Boots listed under their “Hiking Boots”, “Backpacking Boots”, and “Mountaineering Boots” are all acceptable forms of footwear. Many “Light Hiking Shoes” are not ideal. Lightweight running shoes are strongly discouraged, and Five Fingers shoes are not acceptable.

OPTIONAL ITEMS TO BRING

  • Sun Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Camera
  • Extra Snacks
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Binoculars
  • Reusable Water Bottle (Pre-Filled)
  • Guide Gratuities

What do you provide for food on your trips?

We typically provide the following on our trips.  However, this may change at any given time.

  • Mendenhall Glacier Treks: bagel/cream cheese, granola bar, string cheese, mini chocolate candies, fruit snacks, a 750ml water bottle
  • Mendenhall Glacier Lake Self Guided Kayak: granola bar, mini chocolate candies, a 750ml water bottle
  • Tongass Coast Kayak: granola bar, string cheese, fruit snacks, mini chocolate candies, a 750ml water bottle
  • Premium Kayak and Whale Watch: bagel/cream cheese or sandwich, granola bar, crackers, string cheese, fruit snacks mini chocolate candies, 750ml water bottle
  • Admiralty Bear Viewing and Kayak: sandwich or bagel with deluxe cream cheese, crackers, granola bars, string cheese, fruit snacks, mini chocolate candies, 750ml water bottle with refills available, other items at guides discretion

On our overnight trips you will complete our Client Expedition Form providing information such as allergies and food preferences.  From this information your guide will create the menu tailoring meals and snacks to your requests.

+ Where can I go to the bathroom on your trip?

On our day trips we recommended you use the restroom before the trip starts. However, if the need arises there is an outhouse at the trailhead for the Glacier Hike and Self-Guided Lake Paddle trips, and a restroom facility at the Kayak Shop for kayak trips as well as outhouses at most of the kayak launch sites. Once we have left the trailhead or the shore behind, then the only option is in the great outdoors. ABAK follows Leave No Trace Principles and if you need to use the bathroom during this time we request that you pack out any trash – this includes toilet paper. So, if you are concerned about this issue, please bring a small supply of toilet paper and a couple of plastic ziplock bags.

+ Can I purchase gear in Juneau?

You can purchase retail kayak gear and equipment at our kayak shop in Auke Bay harbor.  For all other outdoor gear, we recommend you purchase from Foggy Mountain Shop, Juneau’s premier outdoor clothing/gear supplier located downtown or the Nugget Alaskan Outfitter located in the valley near the airport at the Mendenhall Mall.  Please note that for cruise ship passengers there may not be time prior to your trips departure to shop at any of these locations

+ What is the weather like in Juneau?

We are surrounded by the Tongass National Rainforest, part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world.  Juneau has approximately 300 cloudy days/year with 220 days receiving measurable precipitation adding up to 60-100 inches annually.  This sounds bad, but it is typically high overcast with light, intermittent showers.  Average temperatures in the summer are in the 50s and 60s.  April, May, and June are Juneau’s driest months.  July and  August are the warmest.  In September it becomes cooler and wetter.  Please see the following links for current weather forecasts.

+ Will we still go if it’s raining?

Since we live in a rainforest, we operate rain or shine.  We provide rain jacket and pants on all of our trips.  If weather conditions are unsafe we will cancel the trip and provide a full refund.  This is more likely to happen on a kayaking trip and will be related to sea or lake conditions, not rain.

+ What if a trip is cancelled by Above & Beyond Alaska?

Above & Beyond Alaska reserves the right to cancel any trip due to inadequate sign-ups, unsafe weather or route conditions, clients not meeting our physical requirements, improper footwear worn by clients, and any other safety issues.  In such an event, a full refund is given if the trip has not yet departed.  However, ABAK is not responsible for additional expenses incurred (i.e., non-refundable airline tickets, meals, accommodations, etc).

+ What about weather delays on overnight trips?

In the event that your trip is unable to depart on time due to weather delays we will attempt to adjust the departure time if the weather improves.  However, if the weather does not improve we will cancel the trip and provide a full refund.  Please note – if  your trip does not depart or return at the scheduled time due to weather delays, individuals are responsible for any associated costs including food, lodging, and airline ticket changes.  For those participating on a multi-day trip, it is recommended that your departure date be at least a full day after the expected return date.

+ What if our ship gets delayed or our port call in Juneau gets cancelled?

If your ship gets delayed, we will try to adjust your trip departure time or reschedule you onto another trip.  If your ship is so late where time will not allow you to do a trip with us, we will give you a full refund.  If for some reason your ship cannot stop in Juneau as planned, you will be given a full refund.  The chances of your ship not arriving in Juneau is very slim.

+ Since we are booking independently, will you get us back to our ship on time?

The majority of our trips are catered to cruise ship travelers and the time frame you have in port. We always get clients back to their ship on time and no one has ever missed their ship.  Our top priorities with our company are safety and getting clients back to their ship in time.

+ Will I see wildlife on the trips?

Humpback whales, Dahl’s and harbor porpoises, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, black bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, bald eagles, marbled murrelets and great blue herons are many of the animals and birds seen on our kayak adventures.  On our glacier trips, we typically do not see wildlife due to the fact that this area is a new growth forest that does not support larger animals and because portions of the trail are used frequently. Occasionally, we see porcupine, beaver, and mountain goats.  Due to the nature of wild animals we cannot guarantee sightings on our trips.

+ Is the glacier cold?

Juneau temperatures during the summer are typically between 50 and 65 degrees with an average of 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).  The temperature on the glacier is about 5 degrees cooler, but can feel up to 15 degrees cooler due to katabatic winds (cold downslope winds coming down the glacier).  Please bring layers of clothing including a warm hat and gloves. 

+ What is the surface of the glacier like?

The area that we travel on is in the ablation zone, the section of the glacier that is melting and not covered in snow half the year.  The surface is wet, a little bit dirty, slippery, and uneven with crevasses and seracs (towers/fins of ice) adjacent to and in our trekking routes.  It is wet due to melting ice and from the meandering melt-water streams.  It is dirty due to the movement of the glacier scraping the sides of the mountains, winds blowing dust and debris onto the ice, and 150 years worth of atmospheric dust settling onto the glacier.  To prevent us from sliding while walking on the ice we wear crampons.  The specific route taken on the glacier is selected by the guides to meet the ability and adventure level of the clients.

+ What can I do to prepare myself physically for the Mendenhall Glacier Trek?

Cardiovascular training is a must.  Our Mendenhall Glacier Trek is the most difficult excursion. You will be hiking approximately 8 miles roundtrip for 7+ hours on uneven terrain. Cardiovascular training will increase your endurance making for a more pleasant experience on the trail. In addition, get yourself out on a hike and choose trails that are uneven. We oftentimes get people who are in good physical condition (i.e. train at the gym daily, run several times a week), but struggle on the uneven surface because they are used to exercising on flat ground, which does not require much balancing and much use of the small muscles in the legs and ankles. This is a different trip than the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek which replaces hiking with paddling and so is much less strenuous and is recommended for all guests unsure about the hiking portion.

  • About ABAK

    Above & Beyond Alaska, LLC is a local, employee-owned guiding company based in Juneau. We have been exploring the region from Ocean to Ice for over 25 years and guiding others since 2002. Our goal is to provide a complete Alaskan wilderness experience by sharing with clients our passion for the outdoors, technical know-how, and natural history knowledge.

© 2013 Above & Beyond AK, LLC US Forest Service Permitted by the U.S. Forest Service, Tongass National Wilderness Back to top
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