Alaska 12 Day Course – Beginner Program
The Alaska course exceeded my expectations. High-quality technical instruction with a focus on team and self-sufficiency set in the ultimate classroom. -2019 Climber
With three summit attempts and 4:1 climber to guide ratio
Distinguished among climbing schools, the 12-Day Alaska Program is a progressive-development, hands-on program. Our goal is to educate climbers in mountaineering essentials, giving graduates a firm understanding of alpine climbing skills. Once skills are learned, we quickly apply our knowledge offering the chance of up to 4 summit attempts.
The curriculum covers the essentials of mountaineering including; glacier travel, self-arrest, navigation, route finding and snow skills in one of the finest alpine environments imaginable (full list of course objectives is below). The course culminates with a summit attempt of one of the peaks in the area of the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. Climb candidates include Mt. Francis (10,450 ft.), Kahiltna Dome (12,525 ft.), Point Ferene (9,300 ft.), Control Tower (8,670 ft.), or Mt. Crosson (12,800 ft.).
In addition to the skill set listed below and the summit attempt, we look for this program to be a remote mountain experience, as we apply skills as we learn them with a keen eye on safety, personal maintenance, environmentally friendly campsite construction and Leave No Trace ethics.
Sleds are used early in the course to familiarize students with their use on an Alaska Range expedition and to facilitate getting to our first training camp. Later in the course, students will be expected to pack carefully and properly when moving camp to meet later climbing objectives and avoid sled use. This is simply to help acquaint students with proper packing skills, which are necessary in most alpine climbing areas of the world. It should be noted that using sleds can broaden the meal choices.
This serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents’ intermediate-level climbs, including Denali, and is a stepping stone for more technically difficult mountains.
Increasing technical knowledge/skills in all aspects of snow and alpine climbing including:
- Glacier travel
- Rope/belay techniques
- Crevasse rescue
- Route finding
- Self arrest
- Safe climbing
Developing educated, self-reliant climbers with the ability to evaluate subjective/objective hazards including:
- Glacier conditions
- Gear evaluations
- Critical decision-making
- White-out conditions
- Wilderness navigation
- Weather conditions
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.
Frequently Asked Questions - Alaska School
Please note you will be mailed specific information for your course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.
We invite you to check out our Training page We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.
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.
Arrive in Anchorage by 4:30pm the day before your course starts and take a 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.
Please fly out of Anchorage after 1:00 pm , the day after your course ends. You should plan to spend the night after your course in Talkeetna. Contact the Shuttle Service to book your return shuttle. PLEASE NOTE – flights to/from the glacier can be delayed due to inclement weather.
Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. They are very familiar with our Mountaineering School and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights. [email protected] You should arrive in Anchorage no later than 4:30pm the day before your course. Book early!
Please contact Shuttle Service to inform them as to your arrival time and to schedule a shuttle. Details located in your confirmation materials.
Our 8-Day program is designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. Our 12-Day course is designed for both beginning and intermediate climbers who are in excellent physical condition and serious about acquiring in-depth experience in all aspects of alpine climbing.
Recommended Lodging: Talkeetna Denali View Lodge. Please note this lodge is near our office, which is about 10 miles outside of town. If you wish to stay in “donwtown” Talkeetna please arrange lodging to our facility for your gear check and departure.
Talkeetna Denali View Lodge– Stunning Historic Alaskan Inn on huge property.
Phone: 907-733-4111 www.talkeetnadenaliviewlodge.com
Location: Outside of town – they provide transport to town and Alpine Ascents
Millennium Alaskan Hotel. This is a quality hotel near the airport in Anchorage.
(They do have complimentary shuttle from the airport)
Phone: 907-243-2300 or 800-544-0553
Location: 4800 Spenard Rd. Anchorage
When you sign up for a course we will send you a confirmation package that includes an equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: [email protected]
Please review the Sample Menu Plan in your confirmation package. As part of the curriculum, you are responsible for your own food. Before departing for the course, we will check and organize personal/group gear. 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. As we fly to the Base Camp, you are able to bring additional fresh food and other “luxury items” not normally part of a mountaineering menu. 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 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. Please CALL with questions.
You will pick up your rental gear at our hangar during the gear check. (see day 1 of itinerary)
Yes, students generally pair up during the gear check to share the weight and bulk of a tent and stove.
Since everyone purchases different gear and is a different size, it is hard to give you an exact weight. For most of our courses, you can expect your internal frame pack (packed with gear and food) to weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment such as ropes and protection, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack for approximately 4-8 pounds of gear.
You will get far more out of your course by reading Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed., The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.
Our 8-Day and 12-Day Alaska courses have a 5:1 ratio.
We run our own retail climbing shop and online gear store, where all Alpine Ascents climbers receive a discount.
We rent the Koflach Degree. The packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. All of our gear is of the highest quality. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.
Our 8-Day and 12-Day Alaska programs take place in Denali National Park in the environs of Denali itself on the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.
Yes. See the training tips above, but… Keep in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy. If you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the course with no problems.
For climbers who need to be escorted from the course, there is a minimum fee of $350.00.
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.
The program was very intensive and a wonderful experience. I have never climbed in the Alaska Range before, and this was a great introduction. The skills taught and the knowledge of the guides was fantastic.