7 Day Alps Denali Preparation Course Itinerary

Our 7-day Denali Alps Preparation program is an arduous training program designed to provide the final preparation for climbers before going to Alaska and attempting Denali. Winter in the French Alps has intense weather patterns- this provides the ideal training ground, one that emulates Denali itself. After a day of checking gear and going over basic mountain skills, the remaining six days are all spent in the mountains to provide as much time in the field as possible. The itinerary will be flexible to accommodate winter conditions.

Confirmation package with trip logistics, gear lists, training suggestions will be sent upon registration

Day 1

The team will meet for a Gear check at 7am in the hotel lobby. A big part of developing the necessary skills starts with having the proper equipment and food to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the wilderness. The guides will discuss each piece of equipment and ensure that everything is in good condition and is a proper fit. Finally, the guides will evaluate conditions, discuss weather with the group, and make last-minute adjustments. Upon leaving the hotel team will ride up lifts to access snow and work on snow school, glacier travel and rope systems. Night in hotel.

Day 2

Depart hotel for overnight portion of trip. We will ride lifts and hike in to access glaciated terrain for overnight mountaineering portion. We will discuss the route, weather and potential campsites. Sleds are used on this course, just as they are on most big, glaciated expeditions. This will allow us to carry more food and fuel without having the entire burden on our backs. Nonetheless, pulling a sled is hard work and will awaken muscles that are often difficult to train in a traditional setting. There is an art to packing and rigging a sled properly, and we spend quite a bit of time ensuring this skill is well understood.

Once at camp, an integral part of mountaineering and expeditionary climbing is being able to set up a safe and secure camp in an extreme environment. Guides will discuss the importance of personal maintenance, hygiene, sleeping in cold environments, and Leave No Trace principles. Once camp is setup skill sessions will continue on glacier travel, running belays and snow anchors.

Day 3

With the skills developed on the previous days – knots, prussiks, rope handling, anchor construction, belaying and mechanical advantage systems – students should now have the necessary skills and comfort to execute crevasse rescue. Crevasse rescue is an essential skill and considerable time and emphasis will be placed on practicing it in this course. First, guides usually have everyone do a “dry” run on the surface but then it is expected that each person demonstrate proficiency in holding a real-life fall into a crevasse and preform an actual rescue. Our standard instruction is a 3:1 Z-Pulley rescue system on a three-person rope team. We also demonstrate (if not practice) the 2:1 Drop-C on a two-person rope team.

Crevasses can be a hazardous environment and care must be taken to mitigate the risks properly. Guides always emphasize climber safety and well-being. Nevertheless, this is a extremely memorable and rewarding day.

Day 4

Travel and move camp. Packing up and moving camp to a new location on the mountain is an integral skill set for climbing Denali. Upon reaching our new campsite we will focus the afternoon on fixed rope ascending and descending techniques. These systems are commonly used above 14k camp on Denali. Continued practice on cramponing and steep snow/ice climbing techniques.

Day 5

Team will make a summit attempt of a peak linking in a large day allowing this to be a fitness training day putting the pieces together of all the previous days skills.

Day 6-7

Final skills practice and review. The team will return to Chamonix and spend night in town.

From 10 Day Cascades Course:  Overall I had one of the best experiences in my life during this trip. The program was great – from the first 6 days on Mt. Baker to summiting Rainier via Kautz and getting back home safe. The guides carefully selected our camping and training spots so that we were all […]


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Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
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