Alaska Intermediate Mountaineering Course

Denali National Park, Alaska

My guide  had a deep inherent knowledge of the mountain that seemed to flow very naturally. She was a wealth of facts and knowledge, shot-gunning her extensive climbing experience at us. The both of them though different seemed very proficient on the mountain. - Evan M.

Course Overview
A favorite among both guides and students, the 8-Day Alaska Intermediate Mountaineering course is an incredible opportunity to learn advanced mountaineering skills in one of the great ranges of the world, the Alaska Range. The focus of this course is navigating big glaciers and ascending steep snow climbs in an expedition environment. The goal of this course is that graduating students should be able to climb non-technical glaciated mountains safely. It also provides an excellent advanced preparation for guided ascents of Liberty Ridge of Mount Rainier, Denali, Mount Vinson, Cho Oyu. Our Alaska programs are unique in that we fly directly onto the Kahiltna Glacier and minimizes the approach into the mountains allowing the group to focus on skill development and ascending several different peaks in the area. Alpine Ascents believes the best training for mountaineering is accomplished with as much time in the field as possible, and all eight days are spent in the mountains.

This course operates at a 3:1 climber to guide ratio, allowing personalized attention and a more rapid learning pace

Course Objectives

To complete a series of climbs designed to improve and increase existing mountaineering skills and knowledge. And to further develop experienced climbers and facilitate increasing the experienced climber's existing technical skills:

Climbing techniques
Lead climbing
Crevasse rescue review
Route finding
Rope and belay techniques
Protection placement
Wilderness navigation

This course has been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, fire fighters, military, stunt people and many others who require climbing skills as part of their career.

These courses take place in Denali National Park and throughout the Alaska Range. We use a variety of locations to distribute land use and provide pristine, less populated environs for our training. That also enables us to take advantage of the best possible mountain conditions for each course.

Climbing Skill Level
Climbers should have completed our Alaska 8 Day, Alaska 12 Day, Cascades 6 Day, Rainier 8 Day or 10 Day course or equivalent.

Our guiding team is comprised of world-renowned guides and full-time professional climbers. While some of these guides have historical climbing achievements synonymous with their names, others are well known for their guiding and teaching experience. A number of our guides have been recipients of coveted climbing awards and scholarships.

Our guides are an integral part of Alpine Ascents because they understand and share our climbing principles. These individuals are dedicated to sharing their excellence with others. Many of our guides have been with Alpine Ascents for over five years, with a handful of veterans working with us for most of their careers. The quality of our Guide Staff is the primary difference between us and our competitors.

The role of an Alpine Ascents guide is to impart knowledge, use calculated judgement and assist individual climber development. Our guides are experienced educators who evaluate their strengths by monitoring climbers' achievements. Thus we stress our acute ability to provide students and expedition members with personal attention, realizing the commitment to assist each climber in obtaining their goals.

Alaska Range
The Alaska Range is home to Denali (20,310 ft.), the highest mountain in North America. Denali has numerous vast glaciers that flow down to an altitude of 2,000 ft., creating over 18,000 ft. of glaciated terrain and the highest relief from top to bottom of any mountain in the world. Surrounding Denali are hundreds of peaks, many of which represent the most sought-after climbs in the world. Most noteworthy are the vertical rock walls and narrow corniced ridges of Mount Huntington and the endless ice routes of Mount Hunter.

Climbers reach the Alaska Range via ski-equipped planes. En route to the glacier air strip we fly through the Alaska range, scanning breathtaking views of some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Instruction takes place on the glaciers surrounding these mountains and we complete our course by climbing one or two of the smaller but equally magnificent peaks in the area.

Alaska Range Challenges
Control Tower (8,670 ft.) is one of the peaks that is climbed during the six-day course. It is a central landmark located behind our camp on the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. We ascend Control Tower from the North East. The route we climb is exciting; we traverse a narrow ridge, then up a final steep section. This climb is a great stepping-stone in the Alaska Range.

Mt. Frances (10,450 ft.) is centrally located between Denali, Hunter and Foraker, and offers stunning 360-degree views from its summit. Our climb ascends the narrow East Ridge on snow and ice for approximately 2,000 ft., providing excellent climbing using all the skills we have learned during the course.

Mt. Crosson (12,880 ft.) presents a two-day climb in which we set high camp halfway up on the South East Ridge. This ridge is steep and continuous for over 5,000 ft., offering excellent climbing and a great challenge for the aspiring alpinist. This climb is truly a classic.

Kahiltna Dome (12,525 ft.), another Alaska classic, offers excellent climbing up the three-mile-long North East Ridge. The entire climb offers superb views of the West Buttress of Denali and Mount Foraker.

Point Ferene (9,300 ft.), centrally located on the Kahiltna Glacier, is a satellite peak of the Kahiltna Dome. Ascending from the north, we use the same approach route as the climbers for Denali. The climb is a beautiful, moderate glacier climb.

The 8 Day Mountaineering Course was a great in depth introduction to mountaineering. The guides were very informative, sharing mountaineering and winter camping tips throughout the whole day. Alaska was an amazing place to spend eight days as well! The mountains were beautiful and I can't wait to get back and attempt Denali with Alpine Ascents in the future! - Rob M.

Physical Conditioning
In the best interest of personal safety, success and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition is required. Prior experience carrying a heavy pack for multiple days serves as excellent preparation for this course; Climbers must be able to carry an average of 50-60lbs. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be an integral team member. We encourage you to contact us so that we may assist you in developing a training program that meets your particular needs. Comprehensive training information can be found here.

Note from Alaska Director : Willi Prittie
Training to a level of fitness above what the minimums of a course call for should be done for several reasons: 1) For anyone continuing on to a Denali expedition; 2) For safety, because the more fit you are, the more reserve energy you have to deal with problems if something goes wrong (and the better you will enjoy your course if you are not whipped every night); and 3) for the best retention of things you are learning on the course. If you are still fresh instead of worn out at the end of the day, you will have far better retention of skills learned and even be able to accomplish some self-directed additional practice at camp at day's end. This latter point is highly recommended and guides are happy to assist as well, because the more practice time you put in on many of the rope-oriented technical skills, the faster and better you will be during climbs. This is particularly true with things such as tying into the rope in various positions, buddy checks, rescues, knots, etc.

Private Groups
We regularly organize private courses for individuals, corporate groups, families and friends. We encourage you to book these courses early as we are often able to cater these programs to group-specific desires. Please contact our office to further discuss the benefits of private courses.

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized concessioner of Denali National Park.

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