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Old 12-27-2012   #1
nightingale's Avatar
kittredge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 62
Alsek/Turnback Canyon helicopter portage

Anyone done the Alsek and done the helicopter portage over Turnback Canyon? I'm doing it in July and am having difficulty finding information on companies that provide the service. Any info would be great! Thanks


I choose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?
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Old 12-27-2012   #2
Real Estate, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29

Spoke to a guy named travis who worked at a company down in Arizona on the Grand Canyon. It was a smaller outfit if I remember right and Im sorry I dont remember the name. It seems like it was an outfit near the South Rim area. Anyway, I know thats vague but its all I got. He talked of doing a trip up there this coming year and was doing the same thing with Heli Portage. Sounded awesome. I will try and track him down and see if I can find any beta for you. Cheers

PS do you need any more boaters for this trip? have gear will travel

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Old 12-27-2012   #3
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 60
Some friends and I have looked into it hoping to run the Alsek this summer. We have rafted the Tatshenshini before and used an outfitter out of Haines, AK. What we found is that the portage runs around $6000 currently. You can Youtube video of how it all goes down and what Turnback canyon looks like.
The outfitter we used, and will be using again this summer is Stan Boor, Alaska River Outfitters,9788 So. Granite Hills Dr. Sandy Ut.84092 801-733-4669 He could probably give you the name of the company that does the portage. He has done a fabulous job outfitting us with food and raft rentals. Tell him Dan McMurray recommended him.

He has a summer address in Alaska but it isn't summer currently.

Enjoy your trip up there!
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Old 12-27-2012   #4
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 4
Stan is the man, no doubt about it. The company is called TransNorth Helicopter Services out of Haines Junction, AK. Not to be confused with Haines, AK. But Stan will fill you in on all the details.
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Old 12-27-2012   #5
flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 89
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 148
Tana River, AK another glacier majesty, NO PERMITS:)

Last year we ran a trip in the Wrangell St Elias National Park on the Tana River. Not the Alsek but big water and badass Alaska fun, the Tana River was exceptional. We rented all of our gear with McCarthy River Tours and Outfitters or

On our particular trip Nik(owner of McCarthy River Tours) picked us up at Anchorage, drove us to the glacier town of McCarthy and planned our flights through Wrangell Mountain Air for us. We rented (3) 15 foot rafts, and all the Door to Door Fixins, plane shuttle, etc. was dirt cheap $800ish, and Painless. On the shuttle to McCarthy we stopped in Palmer to do our 7 day food buy. Nick brought the ice chests and ammo cans so we could whoop it out right in the parking lot.

The first day Nik setup the plane flight times and helped us move the gear to the airport. It took three plane loads to get all the gear to the put in and we were able to fly the river to the base of the glacier. Not a soul on the river but bear and moose. Magnificant. No permits, and no guidebooks. Incredible exploring. Put-In at the base of the Tana River glacier what we think was 20,000 cfs? Takeout just into the Copper River at 100,000cfs? One could continue down the Copper all the way to Cordova for a 15+day trip.

The water is big and cold with Rapids right off the bat. After a day or two of Big Grand Canyonesque rapids the river delivers you to a cabin camp with giant monster firepit, and sweatlodge. The rest of the trip has rolling waves and massive geology that blew us away.

Huge bow to the Alaskan backyard!!


Childs glacier surfing below on the Copper I believe

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Old 12-28-2012   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Brady - Sounds epic. I've hiked in Wrangell-Saint Elias but not boated there - it is beautiful and largely untouched. P.S. Brady knows a thing or two about outfitting - so I tend to take his words with weight.

That video is sick. Reminds me of people surfing the tidal surge in Turnagain Arm.
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Old 12-29-2012   #7
Gig Harbor, Washington
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 22
Alsek/Tat Outfitters

I have also used Stan Bore out of Haines. He was great to work with and I will use him again when I go back to do the Alsek and/or Tat or.... I did the food shop/pack for our trip and he was kind enough to pick me and all my groceries up at the store and take me back to the hotel. Great guy!
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Old 01-03-2013   #8
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 29
Originally Posted by canyonrivergirl View Post
I have also used Stan Bore out of Haines. He was great to work with and I will use him again when I go back to do the Alsek and/or Tat or.... I did the food shop/pack for our trip and he was kind enough to pick me and all my groceries up at the store and take me back to the hotel. Great guy!
Try Trans North they did our shuttle last year.
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Old 01-11-2013   #9
Norwood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 36
Hey Brady, Just saw your post. Glad to hear you did the Tana. Not very many people get to make this claim. I did it 3 times back in '85,'86 and '88 when I was guiding up in AK. It is a Monster river with GC size whitewater. We estimated it was running 15 to 20,000 cfs. There is a guide book with a description of the Tana in it. It is " Fast and Cold " by the late Andy Embick. I also know Nik and he runs a good show so anyone wanting to run rivers in the Wrangells should give hime a try. Cheers.
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Old 01-12-2013   #10
Anchorage, Alaska
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 70
tana in packrafts

Seems like the Alsek could be portaged with a packraft and avoid the 6000$ helicopter fee. Granted I've done the Grand Canyon in both a 18 footer and an Alpacka, each trip had its advantages and disadvantages (outfitter cost being very different for each).

A friend and I packrafted the West Fork of the Tana, and the Tana as part of a race we did last July. My battery is low so I only have a little bit of one of the two Class IVish rapids. On-ramp of whatever... Kinda like the entrance to Granite then Hermit back to back.

The whitewater occurs towards the end of the third minute.

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