Getting to Talkeetna
We meet in Talkeetna, Alaska at 9:00 a.m. on Day 1 of your course. You will need to spend the night before the course in Talkeetna, which is approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage (2 hour drive). Talkeetna is a very small town with limited facilities; we advise that you arrive there with all your food and gear for the course already purchased.
From the Airport to Talkeetna, AK
Fly to/from Anchorage, Alaska (ANC). Flight reservations should be made as soon as possible.
Arrival: You should arrive in Anchorage one day before your course start date, landing by 4:30 p.m. at the latest. You may also consider arriving an extra day early to chase lost luggage and have a day to relax. All climbers should make a reservation with one of the shuttle services listed in this section to transport you from Anchorage to Talkeetna. Please make your shuttle reservations soon after purchasing your flights, as this shuttle can get fully booked.
We recommend you stay in Talkeetna the night before your climb begins. We advise booking your accommodations well in advance, as the hotels and lodges can fill up during the summer months.
Please download WhatsApp to your cell phone before arriving in Alaska. The evening before your Gear Check in Talkeetna our staff will start a group text message thread on the WhatsApp messaging app including all climbers as well as your lead guide. Please download WhatsApp and look out for our message the evening before your Gear Check.
Departure: Fly out of Anchorage after 1:00 p.m. the day after your course ends. You should plan to stay in Talkeetna the night that your course concludes. You can then shuttle from Talkeetna to Anchorage the next morning to catch an afternoon flight. These return shuttle reservations don’t need to be reserved before your trip, they can be set up with Talkeetna Taxi once you’ve flown back from the glacier at the end of your course.
Delays: Flights to and from the glacier are subject to delays at any time. Please note the possibility of having to remain on the glacier or in Talkeetna for an extended period and ensure your flight arrangements can be changed.
9:00 a.m. Meeting Day 1 of Climb
Orientation will start at 9:00 a.m. on Day 1 of your course at the Alpine Ascents facility, located just outside of Talkeetna. The Alpine Ascents van will pick climbers up from our list of Talkeetna hotels at 8:30 a.m. and shuttle to our facility. If you are driving yourself, this drive is approximately 15 minutes.
Climbers can store any personal belongings at our Talkeetna facility for the duration of their course.
Lodging in Talkeetna
You will want to stay in the “downtown” are of Talkeetna. This will give you access to the small shops and restaurants on Main Street. Our Alaska Operations staff will pick you up in Talkeetna and shuttle you to the Alpine Ascents facility 15 minutes outside of town. Please be aware that there are not standard taxi/ride-share options in Talkeetna.
Some hotels we are familiar with are recommended below. You are welcome to find others in the same general area. Please let us know where you choose to stay so that we can schedule a shuttle pickup for you, if needed, on Day 1 of your climb.
Traditional, affordable rooms with forested grounds right on the Susitna River waterfront a few blocks from Main Street.
A grouping of cabins that each fit 3-5 people, great for climbers who are traveling together in a group.
Budget-friendly rooms with a rustic feel. The people are friendly and the place is clean.
Talkeetna East Side Cabins
Swiss Alaska Inn
Just Outside of Town
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
One of the largest lodges in the area that will likely have rooms available. More upscale than the downtown options, this lodge is used by the major cruise ship travelers. Located 3 miles out of downtown.
Should you need to lodge in Anchorage before or after your climb, the Millennium is a quality hotel that offers free airport shuttle.
Millennium Alaskan Hotel
9:00 a.m. Meeting (Day 1 of your Course)
Orientation and gear check will start at 9:00 a.m. on Day 1 of your course at the Alpine Ascents facility just outside of Talkeetna. The Alpine Ascents van will pick you up from your hotel in Talkeetna at 8:30 a.m. to shuttle you to our facility. If you are driving yourself, this drive is approximately 15 minutes.
Gear check will last approximately 3 hours. After gear check, we will drive you and your guides to downtown Talkeetna for lunch. We then have a climb briefing at the National Park Ranger Station, and then on to the airport to catch your flight to the glacier (weather permitting).
You are required to attend this gear check meeting. We will distribute and fit rental gear, do a thorough assessment of your gear, provide packing instruction, check personal menu items, and review the route and trip itinerary.
You may attend the gear check in your normal street clothes. We have storage for reasonably sized luggage while you are climbing, so please bring a duffel bag/suitcase to store any personal items you do not wish to take on the mountain.
What to Bring: Please bring all of your gear to gear check. Note that you do not need to pack carefully beforehand, as we look at every item together. Rental gear will be picked up at gear check. You are responsible to bring all gear on the Gear List (including food) except what you rent from Alpine Ascents.
Packing your Climbing Pack
• Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic. (Trash compactor bags work best and are equivalent to two layers of plastic)
• Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover the inside of your pack.
• You will help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your pack.
Link back to your 8 Day Course gear list:
The weather in Alaska’s mountains is unpredictable. With this in mind, we developed our gear list for the safety and comfort of our climbers. There may be occasions when required items are not used because of current weather conditions, but please note the gear list prepares you for poor weather conditions.
You are required to bring every item on this list as described so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality equipment at reasonable rates. Gear is also available for online purchase at the Alpine Ascents Equipment Store where climbers on an Alpine Ascents expedition will receive a discount.
Your rental form must be submitted at least three weeks prior to expedition start date. Please call our office or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.
Note: Gear is very difficult to buy in Talkeetna, so it is extremely important that you be fully outfitted before arrival.
Due to the unique nature of Alpine Ascents’ Alaska program, some rental items requested may be picked up in Talkeetna at your gear check, and others may be shipped directly to you prior to your trip. All equipment, whether shipped to you or picked up in Alaska, may be de-issued at the Alpine Ascents Alaska facility at the end of your trip.
Stoves, Tents and Cooking Utensils
These items, while required for your course, can be shared between two climbers to reduce pack weight. These pairings will be arranged at gear check the morning of your course. Please be aware of this possibility to share these items.
About Food in the Mountains
We advise you bring all food with you to Talkeetna as it is easier and more cost effective to shop before arriving. When shopping for expedition food, remember it is better to err on the side of too much food instead of too little! You should buy food for 1–2 days beyond your course. As part of your gear check, our guides will review your food and meal plan to ensure you are eating enough during the program. Please use the menu guide carefully and take time to plan all meals. We encourage you to call our offices with any questions.
Big Helpful Hint: As we fly into the glacier very close to our base camp, you can bring and eat many of the same foods you eat at home. Climbers wishing to bring home style meals should have experience cooking these meals on a camping stove in a wilderness environment. In many ways you can think of this as a place to bring “luxury food” as compared to other mountaineering/camping experiences in that you do not have to carry food a great distance.
A comprehensive menu planning guide can be found on the next tab on this page: Menu Plan
Food is one of the basic pleasures of wilderness travel. There are countless options for putting together healthy and delicious meals for long wilderness trips, depending on how much time, effort, and money you have to spend on preparation before the trip. Thorough meal planning and preparation is a must!
While all of our expeditions do include meals, our courses serve a broader function of teaching sustainability and self-sufficiency in the mountains. For this course, you will be responsible for bringing and cooking your own food. Guides will review all food items at the gear check. The shuttle bus from Anchorage “usually” stops at a grocery store in Wassilla for about 20 minutes. This is a great time to purchase heavy, bulky or fresh food items like canned goods, sauces, breads, blocks of cheese, meats, etc. We still recommend you bring a majority or your food from home to reduce both cost and time/stress involved in packing for 8-days in the Alaska Range.
For the 8 Day Alaska Mountaineering Course you will need:
Emergency Rations: we recommend you bring 2 additional days of food in the event our return flight from the Alaska Range to Talkeetna is delayed by poor weather.
Nourishment and mountaineering are inseparable. Climbing requires higher daily energy expenditure than many other strenuous activities. Eating well (and frequently!) sustains energy levels, keeps us happy, and helps us to combat the cold conditions and inclement weather we will likely encounter in the mountains of Washington. One of the most challenging parts of a mountain guide’s job is advising climbers on the types and quantities of food to bring on a mountaineering expedition. Unlike items such a sleeping bag where you have it packed or not, food is subjective.
Some climbers eat large quantities of food, some eat less. Some love dehydrated meals, while others do not as a result of digestion issues. As guides, we can’t tell you what you are going to like or how much you are going to eat. There is no way to tell you if you’re going to want 2,500 or 3,500 calories per day.
With that in mind, here are some general thoughts on food planning:
Too little food is terrible, but too much food is not the answer
Going hungry and/or having to live off the extra food of other climbers and guides is not fun. On the other hand, you don’t want to haul around food that will go uneaten. Consider the weight and volume of what foods you are bringing.
All food selection is a compromise between taste, weight, space
A block of cheese is easier to pack than a similar amount weight of shredded cheese because it is denser. Dehydrated meals are the lightest meals to pack and easiest to prepare, but if you don’t like them it doesn’t matter how light and easy they are.
Bring food that you like
Eight days is a long time to be unhappy with your food choices. If you don’t like a particular food in your home, it is unlikely you are going to start enjoying it in the mountains.
It’s your responsibility to check food preferences and amounts prior to your trip
Is 1 cup dry cereal with 3 tablespoons of powdered milk enough for one breakfast, or will you be happier with 1.5 cups? How much pasta should you bring for one dinner – 1 packet or 2? Trying out a few mountain meals at home will give you a much better sense of what to bring. Test out snack/lunch options before your course, too.
In order to make our training as specific as possible, we will use sleds to navigate the glaciated terrain of the Alaska Range. One of the advantages to using sleds is to allow us to carry bigger loads compared to using backpacks only. This allows us to bring heavier, more luxurious food items on this training course.
Salt, pepper, mustard, hot sauce, sugar, etc. are all great additions to any meal plan, especially if you are not using dehydrated meals (as they are already high in sodium). The lightest option is to pick up individual serving packets from the deli section at the grocery and store them in a Ziploc bag. Also, very, very small (1 oz.) plastic storage containers with screw-on caps can be purchased at most outdoor stores for condiment storage.
An essential part of breakfast and dinner for both hydration and well being. Coffee drinkers take heart – there can be decent coffee in the mountains! Starbucks VIA’s have become standard on mountaineering expeditions. A small portion of powdered milk and sugar can be added. Black tea, yerba mate, herbal teas, hot chocolate, and powdered chai are other options. Plan on bringing enough for 2 to 5 hot drinks per day!
Meats and cheeses are great foods for this course as they will not spoil – nature’s freezer (snow!) will be close to hand. Reduce excess packaging. Get rid of boxes, extra wrapping, etc. Ziplocks are great for repackaging food. A few medium-sized stuff sacks are great for organizing food while in camp.
Consider bringing Nuun hydration tablets or other cold drink mixes to add to drinking water for electrolyte replacement during your course. *Please note the emphasis on hot drinks and other liquids in the menu. Staying hydrated while climbing is very important, and this issue is addressed in-depth while on the course.
The most important preparation you can do for your course is training. This is an extremely rigorous climb and being in strong physical condition is mandatory for personal saftey, success, and team compatibility. Students who have properly trained will also be better equipped to learn and retain the technical material covered.
Refer to your course training page:
If this kind of training is new for you, we strongly recommend working with a trainer/coach that has a background in mountaineering. Steve House and staff at Uphill Athlete are experienced industry professionals we highly recommend.
Knots to Know
We recommend learning the following knots and hitches before your course. Knowing these knots beforehand will help you focus more of your course time on learning their applications.
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.
On the Mountain
Nights 1-7 at Camp(s)
Sleeping arrangements: Tents
Bathroom: Waste Kits
Cell coverage: Some camps receive limited cell service, however climbers should be prepared to be out of service for the duration of the course.
Leave No Trace
Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:
As guides, we spend time teaching the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard to get high into the mountains, reaching a pristine campsite, witnessing incredible views, and having the feeling that no one has been there before.
Conversely, there is nothing more disheartening than working hard to climb a mountain, reaching a site and encountering trash, food waste, and toilet paper. Please read the seven LNT principles, and call the office if you have any questions about what you can do to plan ahead.
Guides are permitted to accept and greatly appreciate tips. Your guide team is composed of two guides. They will pool all tips received. An average tip for the full guide team is $200-$325.
Please be aware that we are unable to process tips by card. You are welcome to tip your guides with cash or via mobile payment such as Venmo or PayPal.