The Lower Glacier is absolutely a misnomer, as this section of the West Buttress route is a good 40 miles from the terminus of the Kahiltna Glacier. When we refer to the Lower Glacier, we mean the bit of the Southeast Fork from Base Camp to the main body of the Kahiltna and the segment of the Kahiltna from the Southeast Fork to the base of Ski Hill, at about 7,800’.
If the trail heads northwest across the Kahiltna, you’ll hike out of the high hazard zone 20-30 minutes after having entered it. Some years, the route bears due north to northeast, along the base of the West Face of Mount Francis. This shortens the hike to 7,800' Camp a little, but there are some massive cracks en route. There are huge crevasses lurking in the small icefall before the East Fork, and big perpendicular ones between that stretch and the compression zone of 7,800' Camp.
Be sure to be proactive about your layering, and if you’re feeling hot approaching a break spot, take off that puffy before you’re ready to head out again. Some folks dress for a crevasse fall, but we'd rather dress for the conditions and keep extra warm layers at the top of our packs.
Lastly, stay attuned to your feet. Many a climber has developed monster blisters headed to 7,800' Camp. Tending to a hot spot on your heel is worth the time, because blisters can really fester in a mountain boot.
The glacier is generally most frozen right before the sun hits it in the morning, so a night schedule doesn't necessarily mean you should start out at midnight.
Sunrises and sunsets in close proximity lead to hours of beautiful alpenglow to light the way, but make sure not to get too caught up in the views and keep good rope tension on the climber in front of you. Proper rope tension can keep a poke into a crack from becoming an epic rescue.