Our Denali climb was recommended by Lonely Planet, 2017.
Included in Outside Magazine’s “6 Iconic Hikes You Should Do Before You Die” 2017.
I don’t have a single thing to say needs to be improved upon and will tell you that Ben did an (typical for AAI) excellent job of handling the necessary minor changes to itinerary and added on some nice cultural features that made the trip a very special experience.
Guides were excellent! and all planned just right. Food and staff were great … the local staff was superior to the others we saw along the trail and from what we heard from parallel travelers, our experience was superior in all ways.
I had a fantastic time on the 13-day course and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning to get started as an alpine climber. I feel somewhat capable as a climber after taking this course and am excited to continue taking trips through Alpine Ascents.
I felt that all three of our guides demonstrated outstanding maturity and leadership during our trip. Peter, Stephen, and Gary did exceptional work as skill instructors. Lessons were clear and to the point. They were all willing to answer any questions I had during the course. I particularly enjoyed Peter and Stephen’s discussion of altitude related illnesses and glacier knowledge. I felt that all three guides struck a good balance between leadership and camaraderie. It was clear that there was a time to be focused and professional while on the mountain, and a time to have fun and enjoy ourselves when traveling or in camp. And importantly, the lines were never blurred between the two.
The AAI staff were all professional and friendly during the time leading up to the trip and thereafter. The website is well designed and very useful for planning trips. The experience was outstanding. Our guides did a great job abiding by LNT principles and helping the participants to do the same. The rental process was well managed and the gear was in good condition.
The biggest strength AAI has right now is its guides. Peter, Stephen, and Gary were outstanding to work with and they are the primary reason I would recommend AAI schools and trips to other people. I will definitely try and book another trip with Alpine Ascents.
The 3 Day Rainier course was amazing. I’ve no experience with “mountaineering expeditions.” I had a vague notion of what was involved. This was THE most strenuous physical challenge of my life. The physical condition of each of the guides is incredible. Each of the guides brings competence and expertise to the table. I feel confident that each of the guides was capable to lead the group independently.
Each of the guides was in charge of different skill instruction which each executed well. We learned more about the details of the guides’ abilities via conversation. The technical skills of using crampons, rope ties, ice picks, etc was obvious when they practiced with us. The guides went out of their way to make a connection with us. On Saturday during our gear check, Matt stopped in to introduce himself and talk with us a little. Our van ride over was when the bonding started. Stopping for breakfast together enhances the conversation. I enjoyed each of the guides’ personalities. It was impressive that each of the guides cooked for us; such amazing hospitality.
The website is impressive and gives great explanations of what is expected. I like the way the information is rolled out: it is clear about how/when you will pay the full tuition, cancellation insurance. The packet that is sent out with diet, training, etc is vital. The gear rental email is easy to follow and I appreciate the discount. The Gear Department was super great in getting back to me with all my tedious questions. Dani and Mike were SUPER! It is better to have 2 people running the gear check, it would be too much for each individual. Dani ran most of the explanation and she was spot on about what to take, what to leave behind.
The organization of the program from registration to gear check at the end is very well organized which I appreciate. Price is appropriate. I felt my safety was well attended to by the guides. Thank you AAI for an amazing experience!!!!
Yes. 3rd climb with Alpine and as usual, Alpine sets the gold standard! Tom Chambers was a good communicator and was very specific on what was going to occur each day. Excellent communication capabilities. Very good knowledge base. The Alpine staff is very well organized and responsive. Always polite and knowledgeable. Tough to find anything that was not perfect.
I thoroughly enjoyed the expedition with the team. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and able to explain and teach techniques and protocols easily. The other clients also made the experience enjoyable. The pace was a good tempo, challenging on summit day, but not overbearing. This was my first foray into mountaineering and certainly left a desire for more. The guides were very effective leaders. Their instruction was easy to understand and they were patient to explain complex or uncommon tasks/procedures for comprehension. The instruction style was professional and courteous. The scenarios and explanations were tailored to the group and easily understood. I certainly left the expedition with a wealth of knowledge to make future trips safe and enjoyable. Yes! The guide team was great. It was a total blast to spend time with such experienced guides that made you feel welcome and approachable.
Though I did not have much interaction with the front office, I did appreciate the pace of information. The emails were informative and received at the right velocity. When at gear check, the ability to rent on the spot was great. Additionally, I would like to applaud the gear check approach. Gear check was again, tailored to our group and took into consideration personal preferences of gear e.g. if you run hot you may not need a heavy base layer. The food was amazing. Certainly helps to have a good chef and nice meals to keep the energy up. Renting gear was simple and straight forward. I think it is a welcomed feature to reserve the gear and only have to pay when you finish gear check in the event you need to add or subtract something.
Being my first experience, I only have positive things to say about the team and Alpine Ascents in general.
It was a most enjoyable adventure with informed, competent guides Javier and Anna leading the way. It was fantastic. Every day was special. Javier knows the local flora, fauna, the people and the mountains. He was very good at passing this information on to us while we were trekking.
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.