Childs Glacier Alaska


Near Cordova, AlaskaChilds Glacier is located about 50 miles from the town of Cordova, Alaska and is accessed by road or water. The valley glacier is 12 miles long, 7 miles wide, with a 300-foot-high face.

One of the many sea level glaciers in Alaska, Child's Glacier creates numerous spectacular ice calving events that welcome visitors between May and September.

As the glacier slowly moves forward and the river undercuts its face, large slabs of ice break off and fall, or "calve," into the river and become icebergs. These calving events are awesome to see and hear. When large areas of ice break off and fall, they cause such a loud noise that hungry bears and eagles know it's time to enjoy a picnic at the beach. The huge sections of ice falling into the river triggers sudden massive waves that often throw salmon on the beach.

One camper told me he was awakened by the sound of guns going off. It wasn't until the next morning, when he saw the glacier ice, that he understood what he heard. The size of the falling ice is hard to estimate—some spectacular events treat the visitor to falling ice the size of a football field.

Shooting the Glacier
By Michael Lawton

Childs GlacierMy passion for glacier viewing started late one afternoon, when my brother came for a visit. We spent the day visiting the sights in and around Cordova, Alaska.

We traveled up the Copper River Highway to see Childs Glacier and the famous Million Dollar Bridge. I had been to the glacier before and was awestruck by the beauty of this ice amidst snow-capped mountains, reaching toward Heaven—and creating an unforgettable experience. This wonderful scene is impossible to capture in words, which is one of the reasons for creating the DVDs to share with you.

As we stood there, in late May, a very large piece of ice broke off and fell into the water. It created a thunderous roar unlike anything I'd ever seen or heard before. I'm guessing the piece of ice was bigger than a tall seven-story building. It was an awesome sight! I was hooked on glacier viewing and could hardly wait to see more!

From that day on, I scheduled one day off a week to visit Childs and video the glacier's calving from May through September.

Videoing Childs Glacier was a challenge at times. Because the glacier creates its own microclimate, distinct from the river valley and from Cordova's weather, you plan for rain. I usually wore heavy clothes and rain gear because the wind often blows from the glacier. This, too, was a blessing in disguise because, if the wind is not blowing, the mosquitoes can eat you up!

Serenity on the Copper RiverMost of the time I stood right at the Copper River's edge, or in the lookout tower, videoing the calving of Childs Glacier. When it wasn't raining, I set up videoing at the bank of the river. It's too risky to try to set up videoing on shore, because when the glacier calves, you have only seven seconds to maneuver over the boulders in order to get to the bank. Trust me: That's not enough time!

I used a Canon ES800 8mm Video Camcorder with Hi-fi stereo and a 12X zoom. At the time of most of the filming for the DVDs, I had only two batteries with 40 minutes each, so I learned how to make an educated guess as to when the glacier would calve. There is a learning curve associated with balancing the need to keep from using the battery too much and anticipating the glacier's calving. Many times I would keep the camcorder on, when I saw some activity that I thought may lead to a calving, but it didn't. And many times, the camcorder was off when a calving did occur. After a while, I learned the proper time to turn on the camcorder.

If you do get a chance to see a glacier and want to video the calving, here is what I learned.

  • Nothing is consistent. . .
  • In many cases, if you notice ice falls (almost like waterfalls) around areas of the glacier, especially on both sides of an area, eventually you will see it calve.
  • When you see smaller areas calve on both sides of a larger area, eventually the larger area will calve.
  • There are times when, out of the blue, an area calves without any previous activity. It literally pops out of the face of the glacier!
  • Like I said, nothing is consistent. . .
  • There are some days without any activity and other days when calving is non-stop.

Even on the days with little activity you are sure to enjoy the beauty of the glacier, the visitors, and the wildlife, too.






For more information:



Childs Glacier Productions
P.O. Box 91
Scottville, IL 62683

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