The course was exactly what I hoped for: intense, educational, and a lot of fun! This course took seven people with little to no winter mountaineering experience and taught us to operate as a team and take care of one another in challenging wilderness situations. I am excited to take these lessons on future climbs with AAI!
Rainier Denali Preparation Course Testimonials
Being on Rainier in the winter was a truly unique experience. With the storm we had on the first 2 days, it was likely that we were the only people on the mountain. It gave a feeling of being completely on our own, which heightened the lessons our guides were teaching about self sufficiency, self awareness, safety and survival. We needed to work as a team, shoveling our camp out from the snow, and gave us an opportunity to appreciate the wild beauty of where we were. It was an amazing experience.
The Denali Prep course was my first trip to the Northwest. More beautiful than I could have imagined. Was a great opportunity to experience the weather extremes. The curriculum was well-organized and well-taught. As always the guides and the setting exceeded expectations. Each time I go with you folks into the mountains, I always feel my safety and well-being are your utmost concern. It allows me the freedom to concentrate on the individual task of getting to the top.
A letter we received from a Denali Prep climber
I took your Denali Prep class two years ago. I just wanted to let you know that it saved my life this past week. Many miles, and many vertical feet, after your class I found myself on the Fortuna glacier on South Georgia Island, near Antarctica, a thousand miles from anywhere. Three climbers (including myself) and a guide were checking out Shackleton’s crossing. The unthinkable happened, and I found myself tumbling backwards and then headfirst into a crevasse. I seemed to fall forever. When I finally stopped, wedged between two walls of ice with my feet thankfully below me and my crampons gingerly jammed into one side, I was about 20 feet down. I looked down and saw darkness.
But because of your class I was able to stay calm and coherent. I called up to my guide that I was ok, and that I needed a rope with a biner on it, as I couldn’t see my harness to reliably operate my biners. Because I knew exactly what she was doing up on top I was able to stay calm while she rigged a hauling system, and she had me out in a matter of minutes. The guide was amazed at how calm I was throughout.
It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, the experiences I gained on Rainier prepared me for it and it turned out as best as could possibly be hoped for.
I had a phenomenal time on this course. Writing that our guides were exceptional does not adequately convey how effective their leadership skills were. Throughout the week, we were both led and empowered to develop skills and find our ways of contributing to the group in productive ways. Moreover, during the crevasse rescue, both guides led a novice team to a successful outcome where all parties were grateful for their leadership.
I came away with skills I am already putting into practice (e.g. knots, ascending fixed lines, etc.) and plan on sharing with my other climbing partners. Our instructors’ appreciation and respect for the wilderness, as well as how to avoid undesirable outcomes, is also something I feel very confident I can pass along to others.
This course was top shelf. I absolutely feel ready to use the skill set taught.
As a surgeon, I have been exposed to many teachers. I can legitimately say these two guides are among the finest I’ve experienced. They did a really impressive job of beginning with basic concepts, and layering more complex principles and skills on top of one another in a logical fashion. They did it in a paced format, balancing the various experience, fitness levels, and mental fortitude of seven total strangers in the process – and in so doing, ensured everyone got across the goal line. The best indicator of their proficiency in teaching is the safely executed “final exam” crevasse fall in which the culmination of the week’s teaching was not just tested but required for the desired outcome.
I LOVED this course. I had almost no experience with winter mountaineering prior to this class, and now I feel proficient enough to try some more challenging mountains. I thought the course was very well considered – lots of information but it was all relevant, interesting and useful. Devin gave clear instructions and was patient with the entire team as we learned. He was able to take a step back and let us learn through experience but also was not shy about stepping in to help when needed. He made the course fun, but also kept us on our toes with a healthy dose of reality every now and then to emphasize the importance of being prepared in the mountains. I was never afraid to ask questions when I didn’t understand. Devin also set a high standard and high expectation of teamwork that set the tone for an awesome week with a group of people who really did have fun working as a team! Stephen was great about stepping in to explain things in more detail. He was very patient, especially with me as I struggled on the last push to camp Muir. He was always positive and encouraging, offering useful instruction on specific ways I could be improving. Together Stephen and Devin made a great team, leading by example they encouraged the whole group to cooperate together – and have fun together, of course! It was obvious that both Devin and Stephen had lots of experience and were very qualified to teach the course. I was glad that both had been to Denali before and were able to answer any and all burning questions we had about Denali in particular. I could tell that both Devin and Stephen enjoyed teaching, they were willing to answer questions and explained things well.
LOVE the website redesign! It’s so much easier to navigate than it used to be. I am very impressed with how responsive the entire Alpine Ascents staff has been – I’ve spoken with Gordon, Matt Miller and Chris Thalman via email with questions and all were very responsive and helpful. Being able to talk to the gear department is a major selling point too, I know I’ll get good advice when I call ya’ll! Overall this was a rewarding course to participate in – it was worth every penny! There was so much information packed into one week, if anything it would be beneficial to be a day or two longer.
I think the strengths of the course were that it was a part of Alpine Ascents, which is clearly an expert in the mountaineering field so it felt like a trustworthy source; the guides were experienced and knowledgeable and enjoyed teaching; crevasse rescue day – it was the chance to put together everything we’d learned and though intimidating and challenging, was very rewarding.
The effort in travelling from Australia for the Denali Prep course was well worth it. I am now so much more reassured as to what to expect and demanded of me to ensure the best chances of summiting on Denali in a few months. I would totally recommend the prep course prior to Denali. Devon Bishop and Stephen Williams were very knowledgeable, capable and both made a great team. Devon’s instructional technique was very effective. During the presentation of new skills (ie crevasse rescue) he reinforced at every opportunity the necessary steps. The result was all clients could recall the process with ease when required to conduct the rescue themselves.
Both Devon and Stephen demonstrated an exceptional breadth of knowledge across all aspects of mountaineering. The guides were awesome, approachable, with a great sense of humour. As an international client, the entire process: from website information, course application, payment and communication was faultless. I am certainly reassured when considering future interactions with Alpine Ascents International. Mount Rainier was the perfect location for my Denali preparations. We had a mix of good and bad weather which allowed for validation of my gear. As an international client, I was completely at ease with my equipment requirements. My various inquiries with the gear department resulted in prompt and complete responses. My goals from the Denali Prep course were fully met. Refresh of basic mountaineering skills was beneficial, however the new practical skills of winter mountaineering, fixed lines, etc (Denali focus) will make my Denali expedition in a few months so much more enjoyable.
The guides were highly competent and knowledgeable. They were upbeat, patient, and generous in the sharing of information. I am very impressed with Alpine Ascents, their course, and their personnel.
The Denali Prep course was my first trip to the Northwest. More beautiful than I could have imagined. Was a great opportunity to experience the weather extremes. The curriculum was well-organized and well-taught. I can see why it is a requirement prior to heading to Alaska. As always the guides and the setting exceeded expectations. Each time I go with you folks into the mountains, I always feel my safety and well-being are your utmost concern. It allows me the freedom to concentrate on the individual task of getting to the top. Your guides have always exercised firm but flexible control with the group despite sometimes widely varying personalities.