exit glacier ice climb

Ice Climbing Exit Glacier & A Tragic Mistake

Ice climbing. Descending down into the belly of a glacier and becoming a part of a world we so rarely have the chance to see. This is big! It’s a bucket list adventure and one I have to do again but, not entirely for the obvious reasons.

I was ready for this. We just hiked our first glacier a couple of weeks ago and I’ve mentally prepared myself knowing I wanted to memorize every element, allowing myself to be consumed by the experience. With our cameras rolling and our game faces on we headed out to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Two Reasons We Need To Go Ice Climbing Again

  1. I love sharing and reliving these adventures through video and photography, but even though I was there, it’s hard to believe that it was actually me. Immersed in the Ice Climbing experience and surrounded by deep blue walls of slow moving ice, listening to an orchestra comprised of drips, trickles, flows, snaps and pops. I tried my best to breathe it all in but to be completely honest, it was hard to focus. The excitement had my heart pumping twice its normal rate, my calves were burning, my legs were shaking and my nose was running.  There’s too much going on at once for my brain to comprehend it all.  Now that I know what to expect, and have some of the basics down, next time I can focus more on the experience. Plus, it was ridiculously awesome.  That’s reason number one we need to go ice climbing again.
  2. Nothing cuts deeper than loosing something of personal value…especially when you intended on sharing it with others. While loosing footage or photographs isn’t the end of the world, its also not fun. We will always have our memories but we lost the bulk of the footage from our ice climbing experience.  Some of those moments were big like when Aunt Cindy had to overcome some serious self doubt and fear to make it down and up the second crevasse. It was moving and inspirational for those of us cheering on and an emotional moment that I am sure she will never forget. That was going to be the video we forced all the grandchildren to watch on holidays. This is reason number two we need to go ice climbing again. You can read Jason’s cautionary tale below for more on how we lost the footage.


Ice Climbing Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier is in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska, one of Kenai Fjords National Park’s major attractions and one of the most accessible valley glaciers in Alaska. All glaciers are a visible indicator of climate change but Exit Glacier is one that is heavily monitored by park scientists and has retreated approximately 187 feet from 2013 to 2014.  There’s no denying our planet is changing and if you want to see and experience these glaciers for yourself my advice would be: Don’t wait too long.

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exit glacier ice climb

exit glacier ice climb

exit glacier ice climb

exit glacier ice climb

nikki wynn in a glacier in alaska

exit glacier ice climb

exit glacier ice climb

exit glacier ice climb

Exit Glacier Guides

As far as we could tell, there were two different outfitters in in Seward offering the Ice Climbing adventure on Exit Glacier. We read some reviews, tossed a proverbial coin and booked with Exit Glacier Guides.  It’s not a cheap adventure at $185 per person but I can honestly say for an all day excursion (about 8 hours), with two fantastic guides, the whole trip was priceless!

seward Alaska adventures

big adventures alaska

Luckily, our guides are beer snobs and they had a keg back at headquarters that was filled with a tasty local beer…so we got that much need post adventure brew, and best of all it was on the house!!!

seward alaska

What You Need

You don’t need any experience or climbing gear.  But being physically fit to some extent is important. We hiked around 5 miles with elevation gain plus swinging those axes and digging those toes into the ice is tiring work.

You’ll want to have light clothes on for the hike up and good hiking boots (it is a warm, humid rain forest). Once you’re on the glacier it will be time to layer up, put on your best rain gear and waterproof gloves (we didn’t have proper gloves and we were very sad about it).

See all of our favorite gear in our store under the Adventure & Hiking section.

Waterproof Cameras

You can bring a nice point and shoot or a smaller DSLR camera in a dry bag inside your backpack but if you want any shots down in the glacier you will want a solid waterproof camera on a “selfie stick” or “extendable monopod”.  We own and used both the go pro and a sony action cam for this trip.  I personally like the action cam better than the go pro.

See all of our camera gear in our store under the Cameras & Computers section.

A Cautionary Tale

Poor Jason did not take it well when he realized the footage was lost and never coming back. It was if he were a kid that had spent his entire year’s allowance on a new bike only to have it stolen the moment he got it home. Here is his cautionary tale about how he lost all the best video footage from this day:

How I Lost the Ice Climbing Video Footage

I like to learn from other’s mistakes so when I make a big mistake I like to share it so everyone else can benefit from my mishap.  If you watched the video above you’ll know that I lost the best footage from our Ice Climbing adventure, fortunately we were filming with two other cameras so the entire thing wasn’t a wash.

So What Happened?

I asked myself the same thing.  I scoured all the folders to see if I misfiled the video from that camera, but alas I couldn’t find any of the video footage from that day.  Here’s what I think happened:

When we came home, exhausted from the trip I download the files and placed them into my Seward file. I immediately put the photographs onto Nikki’s backup drive so she could post socially about the day’s adventure.  I didn’t backup the video files, I just left them on my computer’s internal hard drive.  I formatted the card as normal.  The next day we filmed a ton of footage again nearly filling up my card.

This is where it gets tricky. The file numbering on AVCHD Videos in the Sony a6000 always resets when I format the card.  So when I tried to add new videos from our next adventure into the Seward file, Windows asked me “replace or rename” and I must have selected replace.  It’s a combination of the duplicate file numbering from the Sony Camera (which is my only complaint with the a6000) and user error…and just like that, with one simple click all the files from the Ice Climbing day are replaced with our day 2 fishing adventure!

The extra distraction of having family around didn’t help either, instead of focusing on the most important part of filming (downloading and backing up the cards) I was concerned about hanging with family and going for that post ice climb brew.

I accept 100% of blame, it’s hard to say and it absolutely kills me that we lost that footage forever, but it happens and I can’t beat myself up over it.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.

Can’t the files be recovered?

If I would have realized my error the next morning or within a day or so, it is possible some of the files would still be recoverable. Due to the fact we are editing months after filming, the footage is 100% gone!  That SD card has been filled, downloaded and formatted a hundred times since we captured the original video in Seward.  Wish I could recover the files but those 1’s and 0’s are long by now.

What did I learn?

If I would have backed up that night I would have seen a discrepancy in the files on the backup hard drive and the files on my computer. The warning pop-up in Windows would have prompted me to investigate the issues and there’s a good chance I would have noticed my error.

When filming every day for such an extended period of time it’s nearly inevitable there will be a mistake made. In the future I will create a new folder for each day so there will be no question if that day’s footage has been downloaded and backed up properly.


Have you ever gone Ice Climbing or walked on a glacier? Maybe you can sympathize with Jason and his tragic mishap? Share your thoughts, opinions and condolences in the comments below…trust me, I can’t wait to read them.


Road Report

Fuel Prices – Fuel was about .20 cents more per gallon in Seward than in Anchorage, so fill up before you head down.

Road Conditions – The Seward Highway is well maintained and was in great shape. However, traffic on Sundays can get a little crazy with the locals coming and going.  Travel during the week was light and pleasant.

Weather – Highs in the mid 70’s with lows in the mid 40’s.  We had a mix of sunny and rainy days during our visit.

Dates Visited – July 22 – 28

See all our Alaska Travels and Tips here: #AlaskaBound

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (42)

  • Ellen

    Other than Exit Glacier Guides, what was the other company you saw that did ice climbing day trips? Thanks! Love the article and photos!

    • Curious Minion

      That’s probably in the corresponding blog post. Check out the Alaska section on the blog & you can use the interactive map at the top or the search bar at the bottom to find the Exit Glacier post. Thanks for adventuring with us!
      Curious Minion

  • Jenny

    The text on this page is overlapping and I can’t read the cautionary tale!

    • Curious Minion

      Ooops – thanks! We’ll get it fixed ASAP.
      Curious Minion

  • Buey

    After watching both footage from Root Glacier and this adventure on Exit Glacier do you feel a self guided glacier walk is reasonably safe? Obviously you needed a guide for the ice climbing but if you were just going to do a walk about as you did at Root Glacier on Exit Glacier would you have any hesitation doing it without a guide? Thanks.

    • Curious Minion

      I definitely would NOT unless the glacier is well known as safe to hike on your own. Root Glacier (at least in 2015) is pretty tame as glaciers go, but many others are riddled with crevasses or snow bridges that could collapse, and others are prone to ice falls and avalanches. When in doubt, don’t go without a guide!

  • ash


    We are planning on doing the exit glacier ice climbing with the exit glacier guides. However 1 of us is not very fit and gets tired easily. Do you think a whole day of ice climbing requires a lot of energy and requires you to be in the best shape? Also, how many times did you guys climb in the time that you all had ?

    • Curious Minion

      I’d ask your guide about it and get them to tailor the trip to the needs of your party. They’re the experts!

  • Andrew Langley

    Given how much footage you generate in a day of shooting I’m surprised you still rely on the default file naming and numbering system of the camera(s). It doesn’t take that much more effort to create a custom file name for each download (location/event, date, camera) which I would assume makes it easier to call up relevant files months down the road (no pun intended) when you’re going to edit and merge it all together.

    Anyway, sorry for your loss… you guys definitely have a system for multiple cameras and points of view so losing any of it crimps your style. Love your content and your attention to quality and detail. Thank you.

    • yea, I’ve been lazy about custom file naming, but we recently did a job and I totally took advantage of this option in Bridge.

  • Mike Laudenslager

    UGH… I know what you are feeling! My Nikon seems to occasionally revert to numbering from zero. I didn’t lose anything nearly as awesome as a glacier climb, but it’s frustrating to find all you have left are thumbnail previews and NOT original files. You did a great job on this one though. Gotta hand it to ya. Yes…the word “tragic” made my hair stand on end a bit. 😉

  • Alex

    On the “tragic mistake” topic, I confess I made the same mistake as Jason. Now I always backup on two separate hard drives. Yes it’s time consuming, expensive and takes more space to store (physically) but it’s a videographers insurance policy. It’s even more important if you travel on dirt road or off road as harsh road conditions can easily damage no-SSD hard drives. Remote scandinavian roads destroyed one of my HD a few years ago… I also invested in multiple high capacity SD card, in case backing up isn’t possible…

    • yep, it’s hard to lose any footage but at least we still had some interesting footage.

  • I enjoyed this chapter in your adventures as much as anything you’ve yet done.
    Perhaps, because I was there 14 months ago visiting family, I can relate to the experience.
    I appreciate you taking us along, and on my next trip to Seward I’ll contact your guides for a little ice climbing!
    Stay safe you two. : )

  • Frank

    First of all, I absolutely lover your adventures and misadventures.
    For Jason –> I’m sure that loosing the files was heartbreaking. I’ve pulled plenty of boners over the years and lost plenty of irreplaceable “memories”. Fortunately, I still have the ones in my head 😉
    I am, however, curious why you reformat the card after each use. If you merely deleted the files, the camera would know to assign a new file name(s) with the next use. New file names eliminate the possibility for human error.

    • I’ve come to Sony from Canon and in my professional career we always format after download and backup. This keeps all the misc. files from filling up the card and from creating errors after a card has been downloaded and filled up many times in a row. I consider a card format an integral part of the process, it just came back to bite me with the file numbering system on the Sony cameras.

  • Missbaysdaddy

    Jason, that one ‘AH SHIT’ wiped out all those ATTA Boy’s you earned the hard way that days. You had the good fortune to have more than one camera rolling, most of us don’t have than kind of foresight. The story goes we thought we had video/pictures but come to find out NADDA is really what we had. Don’t be too hard on your self it was an honest mistake. Now that you know better I think you will do better.

  • Bry

    While I understand being heartbroken over the lost footage, please be more mindful of using the word “tragic”, espeacily when paired with a risky outdoor activity like climbing a glacier. I thought he had an acidente and hurt himself. I was trully scared there

  • Jamie Wenner

    No chance you have previous version enabled on your windows pc?

  • paul

    why didn’t you take vacations as kid and what exactly is high tea?

  • Maik and Horst from Germany

    Hy guys, we were really a little bit shocked reading the headline “….tragic mistake” because we thought that something harmful had happened to you. So we’re happy to hear that it is just footage that was lost. Please be careful with your words, okay, we like you and worry that you are always fine.
    But now:
    The fear that you have overcome makes one feel like Superman, doesn’t it? I remember jumping into the dark sea in Thailand by night in order to pass one step of my PADI diving degree. It was scaring and amazing at the same time. Horst and me, after watching all your reports about Alaska, certainly will make a trip there in the future. We both like the nature and are fine with spending time not in the crowd and I think Alaska and Canada are made for this type of experience.
    Take care of you and thank you so much for let us be part of your adventures!!

  • Hey Jason, I’m sorry about your mishap… I would beat myself silly if I had done that lol…

    I have a Panasonic GX7 which is quite similar to your a6000. It also shoots in AVCHD which I love.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that you’ve been able to use an external mic on the a6000. How are you able to do this as the a6000 does not have an external mic input jack? Just curious cause I’d love to do the same with my camera.

    • Dillon,
      We are switching to XAVC-S as our video format for all future videos as it provides more true color and tonal range in highlights & shadows. I was never a big fan of AVCHD (other than the fact it saves so much data) but the a6000 didn’t offer XAVC-S until the recent v2.0 update.
      The Sony has a “multi-shoe” and we use that for the shotgun mic. I recently purchased a windscreen as well, it captures very well, but not as distortion free as my RODE VidPro, but never having to remember to turn it on is a HUGE bonus!

      You can find my gear list here:
      You can also find my gear in our travel store under the “cameras and computers” tab:

  • Pat and Rita

    WOW – That is all we can say. You two are absolutely amazing people and the adventures you have had
    and a world of adventurers to go. What a great couple. Pat and Rita from Tapaderrrrrrrrrrrra

    • Hey Pat & Rita! We miss you already! Hope you’re having a blast in Orgeon. 🙂

  • Lloyd

    So sorry to hear! Good thing you had the GoPro as a backup. We appreciate you allowing us to learn from your mistakes. I recently purchased the Sony a6000 (from your Amazon link), can you share what video format you use and why?

    • In all of our Alaska Videos we used the AVCHD format, as you can see it does a pretty good job. With the software update v2.0 for the a6000 they have upgraded the video options to the add the more professional XAVC-S video mode which I will begin using. The XAVC-S file has more data so colors, blacks and highlights are better retained while filming. The only downside is the files are twice as large. In order to use the Sony XAVC-S setting you’ll need a class 10 UHC 1 (or preferably 3) SD card with a capacity of at least 64gb.
      You should download nightly and backup to a portable hard drive. I take it one additional step and have a second portable hard drive that I keep in a different location in case someone steals my computer bag.
      I hope this helps.

      • Tommy Traveler

        Sorry to hear about your mishap, but ship happens. And it could have been a lot worse. You can replace a camera. Better luck next time!

  • Jim Short

    I understand your feelings on the loss of your video footage. I did something similar when I accidentally erased some footage of my granddaughter. I kicked myself for days. Now it’s 3 months later and I can talk to me again, but I will never be the same. Smarter now, just like you!

  • What an AWEsome experience!! You guys captured it beautifully, even with the footage loss. Wow!!


  • Kim Oslund

    Lovely family Jason. You can tell you got all your looks from your Mom. Must have been really nice having the family there to experience this adventure with you and Niki.
    I lost about one hundred pictures by doing the same thing. Thought for sure I downloaded the pictures from the disc to the external hard drive. Didn’t check to see if they were there and a couple days later could not find them. Now the plan is to visit Mesa Verdi National Park again someday and enjoy the adventures all over.
    Great video. Don’t think I would be able to climb down into a glacier at my age, but I know I would enjoy walking on them. Looked like a ton of fun. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the next.

  • Joe the computer guy

    The word tragic caught my attention. Attach that word to climbing a glacier and my heart sunk. Jason, things are just that – things. You guys are so lucky. You are young and the world is your oyster. You are doing things that you feel invigorated about. It shows. You have your health and each other. No thing or video can replace that. Stay healthy and keep the videos (um, er, uh) or pictures or just the posts coming. 🙂

  • William (Bill) Weaver

    OH MY, you guys are fearless. I don’t know what was on the footage that you lost (sorry), but what you shared with us is still amazing. When you are old and sitting in a rocker, you will remember this adventure. For sure! Most people who visit Alaska will never experience this. We all have lost/missed photo ops. One of my many was in New Zealand on a jet boat ride. Check YouTube to see what they are like. This was on my list and I wanted to record it all. My wife wanted to hold on, so I took her point and shoot camera in one hand for stills and mine in the other for video. With the roar of the motor and bouncing along at 50+ MPH and 360 spins, I didn’t know what I was recording. I did miss some of the ride, but did get some shots of my wife giving me dirty looks for getting her on the ride. Priceless. Your shots are priceless too. Thanks for sharing.

  • I feel your pain having lost some footage but you pulled off an interesting video despite that.

    I’ve always liked ice climbing better that rock climbing because I can make a foot or hand hold where I want it and don’t have to do an over reaching maneuver to get one. My upper body strength hasn’t kept up with my middle body growth

  • mary

    Nikki is the Ice Monkey!! I still can’t believe how quickly she dropped off the edges of the ice. It sure was a mental challenge for me! It sure was a lot of fun once we got over that ledge!

  • You were right. “Ice Climbing” + “Glacier” + “Tragic Mistake” = irresistible title. So… lemons into lemonade, and still a thrilling video. You two are almost as awesome as you Mom and aunt. 😉 Thanks for sharing so beautifully what was obviously an amazing experience. Our hearts were racing along with Jason’s as he worked to drop over that ledge.

  • Scott

    I feel your pain. Losing photos or videos is indeed tragic. Perhaps you should buy a bunch of memory cards so you don’t have to reuse them so quickly. The photos you have are great.

    • Agree Scott, I have done the same thing writing over hard won footage, even expensive footage. I learned the lesson long ago the trick is to download to hard drive on computer, memory stick, to external 3TB HD and save the SD cards for awhile. That’s right, I save to 4 separate locations. On location, I bring along twice as many SD cards as I need. Next week I am going up to the nearby Grand Canyon again for a photographic and video update to my Grand Canyon guide and I am taking more than I need in the way of gear, backup SD cards, and other ancillary equipment. Jason, I feel your pain, I really do…but this too shall pass. Just love these vids from Jason and Nikki. They are top rate Grade A World Class professional all the way… I was a senior exec at ABC-TV in Hollywood and I know good work when I see it. This is great work. Fred F

  • Denise F

    Such COOL footage for it not being your best! I think my heart was increasing speed as I was watching the rappel! What brave family members you have…I’d need peas for both knees! Bet you all slept well that night! Thanks for carrying more than one camera…perhaps the other footage was just too boastful for us to handle, since this was so awesome…I can’t imagine more!


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