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Frequently Asked Questions

At Above and Beyond Alaska we specialize in small group highly active adventure trips that are either public or private tours. If you have questions before your trip please don’t hesitate to reach out through phone, online chat, or email. We are here for you!

Why join an Above & Beyond Alaska Trip?

We are a small, independent locally owned company who is passionate about offering high quality, small group adventure tours for all visitors to Juneau who want to experience the true spirit of Alaska. Being a small local company, we have been granted access to areas that were previously only known to locals, like accessing the Mendenhall Glacier where the ice caves are located, or the beautiful Amalga Harbor located 15 miles north of Juneau. The combination of the high quality with the best locations has created the best tour options in Juneau.

What is your minimum age requirement?

Our minimum age requirement varies by trip type and whether is a regular trip or a private trip.

  • Mendenhall Glacier Trek – 10 years old
  • Private Glacier Trek – 8 years old
  • Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek – 12 years old (8 for private trip)
  • Privately Guided Kayak Paddle & Trek – 12 years old
  • Glacier Blue Trek & Climb – 12 years old
  • A Taste of Nature Kayak & Gourmet Food Adventure – 8 years old
  • Fortress of the Bears Kayak Adventure – 10 years old
  • Paddle with Whales! Private Boat Charter – 8 years old
  • Helicopter Glacier Base Camp – 12 years old

We do not have a maximum age requirement.  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. We are always happy to help determine what trip is right for you.

What 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 or denim 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 or dry bag backpack, helmet, harness, micro spike traction footwear, trekking poles
    • Kayak Trips:  kayaks, PFD (life jacket), spray skirt, paddle, rubber boots, paddling mitts, and safety gear
    • Bear Viewing:  binoculars and spotting scope, rubber boots, rain gear
  • 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
    • A Taste of Nature includes a full gourmet meal featuring the best of Juneau food tasting such as Halibut Chowder, Kelp Salsa, and more
    • Paddle with Whales! includes a similar meal to A Taste of Nature and can be customized for each client group.
    • Fortress of the Bears 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 and waterproof)*

* 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 sizes are available for the gear we provide for use?

For all tours we provide rain gear to protect from the changing elements. This gear can be used or stowed in your backpack or dry bag.

  • Rain Gear is Helly Hansen rubber layers that go over your personal gear. It is sized more like a poncho then a standard jacket. So if you wear Women’s Medium mostly, a Women’s Medium Jacket and Pants will easily fit over your clothes.
  • Rain Gear Sizes: Men and Women’s XS – XXL, Youth S-L

For the tours involving paddling on Mendenhall Lake, such as the Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek, we provide neoprene rubber boots made by Bogs. These boots will be in place of your shoes and you are welcome to store your personal shoes at our warehouse facility.

  • Rubber boots sizes: Men’s 6 – 15, Women’s 6-11, Youth 2-5
How many people are in a group?

Our tour group sizes range from 2 – 12 people with 1 guide for every 6 people. So if you book a tour that has the maximum number of 12 people, then you will have 2 professional guides with you all day.

The one exception is the Glacier Canoe Paddle and Trek can sometimes have 7 people to every 1 guide, as 7 people can fit in the canoes. In that case the maximum group size could be 14.

If you book a private tour, you will receive 1 guide for every 6 people in your group. For example, if you have a group size of 9 people you will have 2 guides with you all day.

Do I need prior experience to go on 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.

I'm 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.

Where can I go to the bathroom during your trip?

On our day trips we recommended you use the restroom before the trip starts. Our warehouse facility features two full private bathrooms for your use. However, if the need arises there is an outhouse at the West Glacier Trailhead, where all glacier trips start and an outhouse available at the trailhead area for A Taste of Nature and Paddle with Whales. 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?

At our facility you will visit to gear up for most trips we have sunglasses, water bottles, gloves, hats, and shirts to purchase as needed. 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 so please make sure to bring all necessary items.

We do have storage at the warehouse for extra personal items and gear while you are out in the field. This includes luggage storage.

What is the weather like in Juneau?

“Plan for rain, pray for sun!” is our motto in Southeast Alaska. 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 is delayed or our port call in Juneau is 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?

For our sea kayaking trips such as A Taste of Nature, Paddle with Whales!, and Fortress with the Bears it is possible to see humpback whales, Dahl’s and harbor porpoises, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, black or brown 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 traction devices such as micro spikes or 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 physically prepare for the Mendenhall Glacier Trek or Private 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.

Talk to an Expert

Please contact us if you would like to request a quote on a custom trip or need trip planning assistance. We are always excited to help plan the ultimate wilderness experience!