Denali Frequently Asked Questions
What is the skill level of this climb?
Climbers should have successfully completed our Denali Prep Course, 6-Day Training course 13-Day Training course 8-Day Training course 10-Day Training course Alaska 8 Day Course, Alaska 12-Day Training course or have equivalent skills and experience. This climb requires proficiency in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, cramponing, and expedition camping skills. It is our goal to have similarly skilled climbers on our expeditions. For more information, please see our Denali screening guidelines.
What is the physical conditioning level needed for this climb?
Excellent physical conditioning is needed. Packs can weigh over 45 pounds in addition to a 20 pound sled. Travel is sometimes through deep snow in harsh weather conditions.
Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?
Along with the required crampon skills, review cardio training on the training page of our web site. Our itinerary provides a fair amount of time to acclimatize before attempting the summit. We strongly recommend following the advice of our guides to acclimatize properly. Please click here for the Denali Training Regimen and accompanying article, "So You Want to Climb McKinley?" by Stacy Taniguchi.
Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber to guide ratio?)
Climber to guide ratio is 6:2. Team size 8. Early season we utilize a 9:3 climber to guide ratio for added logistical suppport on the mountain. The most unique aspect of our climb is the 3:1 climber to guide ratio. Small group sizes not only improve your chance for summiting but also provides a much richer experience,
What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?
May, June and July are the best months to climb Denali. Harsh weather and storms are not uncommon on Denali, though the frequency and duration vary from year to year, making it difficult to predict which trips will encounter such conditions.
How many climbers are on this expedition?
Our maximum for this climb is 6 climbers plus 2 guides and 9 climbers plus 3 guides for our early season departures.
Will I be sharing a tent or lodging with other climbers?
Yes, you will share a tent. At the lower camps 2 people share a 3 person tent. At high camp, teams often go with 3 people to a tent to save weight.
How much will my pack weigh?
Your pack will weigh up to 40 to 60lb with a 30 to 50lb sled (total weigh combined 65 to 70 lbs) for up to 6 hours per day. Higher on the mountain where we don't use sleds, your pack weight can be as high as 65lbs
What gear will I need?
Please review the gear list.
How does your gear rental system work?
Those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. All rental gear will be mailed to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and return it to us by mail following the expedition.
Any further advice on gear and using your gear list?
While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by our guides to assist in having climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions. When purchasing gear for Denali and other expeditions, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the best options for purchasing with future needs in mind.
While it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do offer a wide variety of equipment in our Gear Shop, that has been hand-picked by our staff of mountaineering experts. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.
How is drinking water treated?
All water will be melted snow while the group is on the mountain. Melting will kill anything that can live at the altitude the camps are located.
What will the meals on the expedition be like?
Meals in the mountains consist of a diet rich in carbohydrates because our bodies do not process fat and protein efficiently at higher elevations and to compensate the increase in caloric need that high altitude climbing involves. We try to make meals and breakfast varied and as normal as possible.
Can I bring some food from home?
You may bring power bars, Gu, Power Gel, cereal bars or similar high energy foods, powder Gatorade is also recommended to fight dehydration. All meals will be provided on this expedition.
Are there any innoculation requirements?
No requirements at this time
What is the best air route to my destination?
Arrive in Anchorage by 4:30pm the day before your course and take van shuttle to Talkeetna. Overnight in Talkeetna the evening before your course. The trip from Anchorage to Talkeetna takes approximately 3 hours. (Please coordinate with the Shuttle Service and your travel agent to arrive by 4 :30pm the day before your course to catch the Shuttle from Anchorage to Talkeetna.) You must pre-book your shuttle with the Shuttle Service. Details located in climber information sheet received in your registration materials.
When should I book my flight? Do I need to use your Travel Agent?
Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our Travel Agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights yourself. Please note that flights booked online are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible as this allows us to book pick ups and hotels.
What time should I arrive and leave and where do I meet the guides?
On day one of your expedition an Alpine Ascents guide will pick you and your belongings up at the location of your overnight accommodations. Please call the Alpine Ascents Talkeetna office and leave a message letting us know where you are staying the night prior to you expedition.
What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?
We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotels rooms, airport pick ups and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single room supplement costs (for hotels only).
Is there any communication while we are on the mountain?
Our guides carry cell phones and will give daily updates on our website as to how the group is progressing.
Where can I get more information on history, books, and additional activities in the region?
Check the reading list on the Denali page of the web site.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and one of the Denali guides will contact you, generally about 1 month before your trip departure. 30 days prior to departure, we mail a list of other team members to you.
How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?
$500 should easily cover any extra expenses and tips.
How much should I tip my guide and staff?
You may have some perfunctory tips at hotels and at time of transport. Tipping is not required but a common practice. Guides are permitted to receive and greatly appreciate tips. ($200-300 per guide per climber is an average tip)
How do I register for this expedition?
The best way to reserve space on a course is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. You may also fill out a secure online application here. Our courses fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the course dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number.
What paperwork do I need to send in?
Each climber should submit an application and flight information.
When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you except?
We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space the deposit is $1,000.00 and balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
DENALI CANCELLATION/REFUND POLICY:
Due to the nature, heavy expenses and limitations of our Federal Government permit, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
· Each $1000 deposit is non-refundable.
· All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise
· Full refunds, less deposit, will be provided 120 days prior to the
· 50% refunds will be provided 60-120 days prior to expedition date.
· No refunds will be provided 59-days prior to the expedition date.
· All refund requests must be made in writing.
· Participants whose balances are not received by the 120th day deadline
as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
Note: Alpine Ascents reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible.
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
Our Denali guides carry two-way radios and cell phones at all times. In the event of an evacuation, our guides and local staff will make the efforts to obtain the necessary transportation and reservations to get you home as quickly as possible. There are National Park Rangers stationed on the mountain, and your team works in conjunction with other teams on the mountain.
Alpine Ascents is an authorized concessionaire of Denali National Park and Preserve.Return to Top of Page