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 the Kautz Glacier on 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
I enjoyed the course very much. I thought the class sessions, the climbing, the camps, and getting a taste of Alaska mountaineering were all excellent. I appreciated the routes the guides selected, that made the course exciting and educational. I feel that I learned a lot that I can use on future climbs—most prominently steep snow climbing and descending skills/experience.
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.
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.
This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.
Mountaineering: Freedom of the HillsDon Graydon (Ed.), Kurt Hanson (Ed.), Mountaineers Society, Mountaineers Books
Glacier Travel & Crevasse RescueAndy Selters, Mountaineers Books
The Illustrated Guide to Glacier Travel & Crevasse RescueAndy Tyson, Mike Clelland, Climbing Magazine
Both of them made great instructors and made mountaineering very easy to learn. From concepts of mountaineering to knots and other practical skills, they made the whole course very interesting and were very knowledgeable in a lot of subjects.