Sheldon Mountain House Ski Trek Itinerary

Alpine Ascents offers a variety of departures from the SMH which you can choose to participate. We are also happy to design custom tours or training sessions based on your interests and time frame. We have two professional Alpine Ascents mountain guides to lead all excursions and will provide the same high level guiding and instruction that is a hallmark of the Alpine Ascents name.

While we can easily accommodate longer or shorter stays at the SMH, we recommend 4 days and 3 nights as a minimum starting point for your journey. During your stay, you can choose different excursions that fit into your scheduled time booking. The excursions are listed below:

Circumnavigation of Sheldon Mountain House Nunatak

The SMH is perched on top of a five acre Nunatak which overlooks the Don Sheldon Amphitheater with spectacular views in every direction. In this excursion we circumnavigate the Nunatak exploring the glaciated terrain, viewing crevasses and learning the basics of proper glacier travel.

Our guides will start your day with instruction in glacier travel techniques. You will learn how to use an ice axe, climbing harness as well as climbing ropes. These skills allow you to travel onto the glacier as part of a rope team to explore ice formations and crevasses while learning the basics of glaciology and viewing the surrounding mountains.

For groups looking for more extensive training we are happy to provide instruction in more advanced skills such as crevasse rescue, anchor placements and rappelling.

Sheldon Mountain House to Mount Dickey via Great Gorge

Terrain: 1,100 feet elevation loss (275 feet per mile) then regained upon return. We depart the SMH via our landing strip traveling on glacier through the Don Sheldon Amphitheater turning left heading south down the Ruth Glacier into the Great Gorge.

Distance: 8 miles round trip

Sights: We have stunning views of all the surrounding mountains as we travel down glacier. Denali, the South and East face of Mt. Barille, the majestic “Gargoyle”, Moose’s Tooth and hanging glacier of the root canal rise up directly around us. Our travels end in front of the 5000 feet vertical rock wall of Mount Dickey. We will be able to see the routes that some of the best climbers in the world have ascended.

Sheldon Mountain House across Amphitheater to Final Ridge Summit

Terrain: 350 feet elevation loss to half way across amphitheater, then gaining 200 feet to southwest base of Final Ridge where planes line up to land in the Don Sheldon Amphitheater. Finally, a 0.30 mile climb gaining another 230 feet places you on the summit at an elevation approximately 100 feet higher than the SMH.

Distance: 5.2 miles round trip

Sights: Crossing the incredible Don Sheldon Amphitheater provides incalculable opportunities to lose oneself in the immense surroundings. Summiting Final Ridge on a clear day allows unique pictures of various features including the Rooster’s Comb, east side of Mt. Dan Beard and gorgeous territorial boundaries that host the SMH.

Action: Departing the SMH via the northwest side of the Nunatak, there is an easy descent (235 feet per mile), then climb to the base of Final Ridge.

Sheldon Mountain House to West Fork of the Ruth Glacier

Terrain: 250 feet elevation loss to halfway across the Don Sheldon Amphitheater from the SMH and then gaining 800 feet to the south base of Peak 11,300 and views of Mt. Huntington.

Distance: 8 miles round trip (more if group is capable in one day)

Sights: Departing the SMH to the northwest towards Mt. Dan Beard and on to the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier heading to the base of Peak 11,300. You will gain sweeping views of the Don Sheldon Amphitheater, Mount Huntington, and Rooster’s Comb as well as the route up and over to the primary Base Camp used for Denali ascents.

Action: Wonderful and rewarding tour of the western reaches of the Don Sheldon Amphitheater with plenty of opportunities for photography.

Sledding and Snow Cave Building

For those wanting to stay closer to the SMH or have small children we offer sledding and snow cave building a short distance away.

The expedition has been arranged in every detail making the experience more enjoyable, of course the high expertise of our guides (Vern and Carole) made this trip unforgettable.


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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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