Our Denali climb was recommended by Lonely Planet, 2017.
This expedition was extremely challenging, and it really put my physical and mental fitness to the test. At the same time, it was if not the most rewarding and memorable expedition I’ve been on so far. I enjoyed every single moment on the trip – the amount of planning, investment, and care was clearly evident in all aspects.
While the equipment and other necessities such as food were extremely important vehicles for success/ the overall experience on this expedition and definitely contributed to the overall quality, what really made this trip shine were the guides. I really think that you could have stuck me in a plastic tarp with a bag of stale animal crackers and I would still have rated this a high quality expedition with the same guides.
Off the bat, I want to say that all the guides demonstrated exceptional leadership and decision making skills, especially given the set of circumstances that happened with this particular group. They made it very clear that while their desires to get us to the summit were high, the safety of the climbers trumped everything else.
Prior to this trip, I have gone on climbs with different companies and I have to say that David, Pasang, and Aili were the hands down the best guides. They were all very personable and approachable, so I always felt comfortable asking them about anything, not matter how silly the question was. While having the opportunity to climb Denali itself was the crowning highlight of this trip, some of the most enjoyable times were just hanging out in the cook tent with the guides and having great conversation.
In regards to David, what can I say? I’ve had the privilege of having him as a guide on the Denali prep course earlier this year and he was the main reason why I decided to climb Denali with AAI. I call him my mountaineering sensei – not only is he extremely generous with sharing his knowledge and experience, he also teaches by example and was more than willing to show how things were done in action. If AAI started to offer trips down to the seventh circle of hell, I’d sign up if he was the lead guide on it.
A major strength of the program is definitely the personnel involved in it – the guides, office administration, and the supporting staff. The itinerary was also a strong point, it was well planned out and allowed for ample time to climb at a comfortable pace.
Personally it’s a little tricky to provide concise feedback on this particular trip, given that Denali is a little unique in comparison to other climbs that I’ve done. This sounds like a cop out, but I can’t think of any glaring weakness of the trip, other than elements outside of human control.
The quality of the guides and expedition were excellent, even extraordinary. The lead guide David Gottlieb along with Pasang went out of their way (literally) to assist a climber who had broken her leg by taking her all the way down the mountain to the airstrip for medical transport, and then the guides made their way back up to our 14k camp so as to continue with the expedition to allow summiting. Yes. I liked the particular emphasis on climber safety and all decisions were made with climber safety as first priority. They all were exceptionally experienced and were able to demonstrate effectively what skills were needed for the expedition. The quality and professionalism of the guides are the strongest aspect. No improvements that I can
think of really.
Yes. Reason I always use Alpine is because I know I am going to get a professional guide service that will place my safety above all else on the mountain. Top quality in every aspect. There was a very high focus on safety, correct technique and clothing at all times, and the guides constantly checked and observed the climbers through the climb. Really great guys. Easy going and friendly. Fun to climb with and knowledgably equipped with so many aspects of climbing and the terrain. Joe was great on the logistics side. Cannot recall a single issue I had with any aspect of the expedition. I have climbed with Alpine on a number of occasions and I really appreciate the attention to detail. Honestly on this trip I cannot think of a single area to improve on.
It was incredible – exceeded my expectations on every count. Vern is obviously as experienced as it gets, but he spent a great deal of time teaching and explaining methods and techniques to us at a level that I was able to understand and apply. Travis was enthusiastic about teaching and didn’t hesitate to chime in during Vern’s lessons when he used a different technique or had an alternate suggestion. Brian was also an effective teacher and was passionate about doing so. They were all really warm and friendly throughout the trip. Each of them had interesting stories and were a pleasure to spend three weeks with. Great guides, excellent support infrastructure, everything was really well thought-out. I’ve recommended AAI to multiple people for future expeditions.
The Alpine Ascents team was well prepared and executed well beyond expectations on the mountain. The experience and quality of the guiding staff and back-end support staff and processes sets Alpine Ascents well ahead of its peers. Highly recommended. The leadership from both the lead guide and his lieutenants was beyond expectation. Faced with difficult weather scenarios, all guides were free to voice opinions which created safe and correct decisions. The group dynamic was excellent, from the guides to all clients, everyone was included. The casual fun filled cook tent was never boring. Second to none. An absolute credit to your organization. Having registered nearly 12 months before the expedition, the entire process and communications were excellent.
Full credit must go to Joe Kluberton (Denali local logistics guru) for receiving us at Talkeetna and dispatching us onto the mountain. He had every detail covered right up to and including labelled bags of personal clothing to change into as soon as we arrived back off the mountain. He has accommodation at short notice covered. This administration coverage was fabulous. Many thanks. VE25 tents – very good quality and condition. Food – We ate like Kings. How can you complain; steak and ice-cream at 14,000ft.
I was extremely impressed with the AAI Denali climb. It exceeded my expectations and reaching the summit of Denali was one of the best experiences of my life. The guides were awesome, the logistics were well taken care of, and safety was always paramount. All 3 of our guides showed that they were very knowledgeable and skilled in the arena of mountaineering. It was clear they were experienced guides and they always had a good handle on the situation. The logistics and guiding were all phenomenal. Trip planning and support was also great.
I wanted to say that our guides were wonderful and professional. They gave me great encouragement to keep me going, I had to descend on an Brand X rope, and the difference in guide quality was unbelievable; Alpine Ascents clearly has the best guides in the business. The food was great (and abundant), the guide’s attitudes were everything I could have asked for, and the environment they provided was perfect for climbing and having a great time while doing so. I spent some time with Team 5 and they are clearly of the same caliber. Once I got down, the office staff was great in assisting with my arrangements to get me back home. I look forward to more trips in the future with AAI!
Loved it. Much better than my Brand X Denali expedition last year I attribute this to perhaps higher screening standards with AAI. Also more menu diversity with AAI which was appreciated. Finally, I LOVED the fact that AAI handed us 15 lbs of lunch food at Willi’s hangar. With other outfits we were simply were told to bring all of our own lunch food, and because a lot of us didn’t have experience packing lunches for three weeks, we didn’t give ourselves as much interesting and delicious stuff as was handed to us by AAI.
Excellent, very well planned and executed for logistics and timing of pre-mountain activities. Thanks for a great trip, good logistics, great guides and traveling companions and great weather.