7 Day Alaska Mountaineering Course
Our 7 Day Alaska Mountaineering Course covers many aspects of glacier mountaineering including glacier travel techniques, crevasse rescue, winter camping, snow skills, and ice climbing with an emphasis on expedition climbing. This course is designed to prepare a novice or intermediate climber with solid foundation for glacial mountaineering pursuits. This is a great option for novice climbers to learn the requisite skills for a guided ascent of Denali, Aconcagua, Mount Vinson or 6000 meter Himalayan peaks.
Skills to be emphasized:
- Snow Camping
- Minimum-impact environmental ethics
- Knots and rope technique
- Anchor building (snow and ice)
- Crampon techniques
- Self arrest
- Glacier travel
- Route finding
- Crevasse rescue
Participants need to be in good physical condition to partake in this course. You should be prepared to carry a 40 lb pack and pull a 20-30 lb sled on the days we move camp. Proper mountaineering training is very subjective, and we encourage you to contact us so we can work with you to develop a good training regimen for your lifestyle. Be prepared for temperatures below freezing at night, with day time temperatures very comfortable and sometimes hot! Most of our course locations are below 8,000 feet, so you should not experience extreme weather like on Denali. Contact us for a detailed equipment list and more information.
This mountaineering course is designed for the novice to beginner climber who is looking to gain skills and experience for pursuing attempts on bigger mountains. No prior glacier experience is required. Winter camping experience is a good idea, but also not required. Participants need to be in good physical shape, and prepared to carry a 40 lb (17 Kg) pack for up to six hours in a day.
Follow Up Climbs
DAY 1: MEET IN ANCHORAGE. We’ll have our Team Meeting at the Millennium Alaskan Hotel 10 A.M. in which we’ll have an expedition orientation and equipment check. This is a very important meeting, which you must attend! Be sure to arrive in Anchorage early enough to make the meeting; which may require arriving a day early. We recommend staying at the Millennium, which is a very nice hotel in a grand Alaskan fashion. Contact us for discounted reservations. After the gear check, we’ll load up in our van and make the two hour drive north to the end of the road town of Talkeetna. After a quick registration with the National Park Service, we’ll board ski-equipped airplanes for the flight into the Alaska Range! Once on the glacier, everyone will need to pitch in to get our Base Camp established.
DAY 2-4: SKILLS. We will spend a lot of time covering many skills in the first few days. We will also cover glacier camping techniques and other aspects of efficient campcraft, such as cooking and water production. We will go over the knots that hopefully you’ve been practicing and build upon those to learn proper rope techniques for belaying and rappelling. You’ll spend time going over snow climbing skills such as self arrest, glissading and how to use those sharp crampons and ice axes. You’ll learn how to travel on a glacier, how to read glaciers to identify potential hazards such as crevasses and how to get out of them if you misread the terrain. Finally, we’ll rig our sleds for travel and get ready for heading up glacier.
DAY 5-7: CLIMBING. From our base camp we can attempt several different climbing objectives and put the mountaineering skills in action. Pt. 8,670, also known as Radio Control Tower, and the East ridge of Mt. Frances both provide some great climbing opportunities right out of camp. The views of the three big peaks (Denali, Foraker, and Mt. Hunter) from the top of Mt Frances are stunning. These routes provide just the right balance of challenging, but achievable climbing objectives.
DAY 7: FLY BACK TO TALKEETNA. Depending on the weather, and how tired you are from the previous days of climbing, we can spend part of this day climbing, or practicing crevasse rescue in the giant crevasses near base camp. In the afternoon we will pack up our camp and catch our ski plane flights back to Talkeetna.
*** As with any mountain itinerary, this is subject to change for many, many, potential reasons.
- MOUNTAINEERING DOUBLE BOOTS: Boots fall into two categories, traditional double boots and boot systems with integrated gaiters. The goal is to have warm, comfortable feet! Try on a variety of boots as they all fit differently and get the one that fits well.
Recommended System Boots: LA SPORTIVA “OLYMPUS MONS EVO,” LOWA “EXPEDITION 8000 GTX”
Recommended Double Boots: SCARPA “INVERNO” with High Altitude Liners or INTUITION Liners, KOFLACH “ARCTIS EXPEDITION,” LA SPORTIVA “NUPTSE”
- GAITERS: Double boots will probably require full height gaiters, such as Black Diamond GTX Frontpoint Gaiter or Outdoor Research “Crocodiles.” Full coverage “Supergaiters” work great as well.
- BOOTIES**: Synthetic or down filled booties. These are great for camp and tent comfort and allow you extra opportunity to dry out your mountain boots. Look for ones with good traction soles. (Optional, but pretty nice)
- SNOWSHOES: Atlas 1225 or 1230 Series, MSR Denali. Select one for your body weight, plus your pack.
- SKI POLES: Select a length for walking. Almost any ski pole will do, although adjustable poles work best. Black Diamond Flick Lock poles are recommended as they seem less prone to collapsing.
- DOWN PARKA: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face all make good parkas, but our Guides’ Pick is the Feathered Friends Volant Jacket with Hood as it is incredibly warm for its light weight. There are some synthetic options such as the Patagonia D.A.S. Parka and the Wild Things Belay Jacket, however; down is recommended
as it is lighter and less bulky. If you are planning to attempt Denali in the near future, you might get an Expedition Parka, otherwise a good down sweater will be fine. Call or email us if you have something you think might work, but are not totally certain.
- SHELL JACKET & PANTS: They should be large enough to go over your pile clothing layers and the pants must have side zippers. These do not need to be the burliest Gore-Tex pieces you can find! Many people are climbing in Alaska using lightweight, windproof, water resistant shells. Look for function and quality. This is a very important layer. Guides’ Pick: The Patagonia Jetstream Jacket is tough yet light.
- PRIMALOFT JACKET: We really favor the puffy jackets over fleece, as we think they are more versatile and are warmer for the weight. Size this layer to fit over your shell. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia Micro-Puff Hooded Jacket.”
- “EXPEDITION WEIGHT” FLEECE: Top and Bottoms made from 100 weight or Powerstretch fleece. A zip t-neck is good for ventilating. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia R1 Flash Top or R1 Hoody.
- STRETCH WOVEN PANTS**: Though optional, this “Soft Shell” layer is becoming increasingly popular due to the broad comfort range they provide. Often pants made of Schoeller Dynamic or similar fabrics can be worn all the way to High Camp in lieu of less breathable Shell pants. Guides’ Pick: Outdoor Research Exos Pants.
- BASE LAYER: Synthetic Top and Bottoms such as Capilene 2 or 3 from Patagonia (1-2 pair). The new Merino wool long underwear are really nice as well.
- T-SHIRT**: Synthetic or cotton t-shirt for the lower glacier. Synthetics dry faster! (Optional)
- REGULAR UNDERWEAR: One or two changes should do the trick, although ladies might want a few more. Look for synthetics such as Patagonia Capilene. Ladies might also want a couple synthetic sports bras.
- SOCKS: 2 – 3 sets of wool or synthetic medium/heavy weight socks. Make certain your socks fit with your boots! The new system boots don’t need as thick a sock as the boots of old
- GLOVES: Light or medium weight bunting, polypro, Windstopper or Schoeller fabric (one or two pairs.)
- INSULATED GLOVES: Warm, insulated gloves are the workhorse in Alaska. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond “Guide Gloves” are bomber and have removable liners for ease of drying.
- SUMMIT MITTENS: Thick, warm, non-constricting mittens made of pile, Primaloft or down. Guides’ Pick: Outdoor Research “Alti Mitts.” They aren’t cheap, but are extremely warm (Divide the cost by 10 fingers!).
- WARM HAT: One warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or fleece is fine. Your hat must provide ear protection. Windstopper fabric reduces your ability to hear rock and ice fall.
- FACE MASK: Neoprene facemasks help keep your nose and cheeks warm when it gets blustery.
- SUN HAT: Baseball type or wide brimmed sun hat for the intense sunshine of the lower mountain. You can combine a baseball hat with a bandana for good sun protection, think synthetic and wide brim.
- HAND WARMERS: Bring 3+ sets of the disposable versions. Toe warmers work well too and can keep camera batteries warm on summit day.
- GLACIER GLASSES: They must have side protectors and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays.
- SKI GOGGLES: For use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells.
- EXPEDITION PACK: 6000+ cu in. or 90+ Liters. You’ll need a large pack in order to carry your gear, plus group food & equipment. Dana Designs Terra Plane, Gregory Denali Pro and Osprey Aether 85 all fit the bill. BE CERTAIN THAT YOUR PACK FITS YOU! Get used to your pack; train with it!
- LARGE ZIPPERED DUFFEL: (36-48″) for use as a sled bag. Lightweight and inexpensive bags work great although the Patagonia Stellar Black Hole Bags do a wonderful job of keeping your kit dry.
- EXPEDITION SLEEPING BAG: Rated from 0 to 20 degrees. Marmot, Mt Hardwear and The North Face all make great bags. Which to choose, down or synthetic? Down is lighter and less bulky, but cost a lot more. Synthetic bags are getting much better. Whatever you choose, be sure it is a quality product! Guides’ Pick: Marmot “Helium”
- COMPRESSION STUFF SACK(S): Granite Gear Air Compressor or Lowe Alpine. Essential for expedition sleeping bags, we also like them for our bulky clothes, such as your parka, mitts and warmest pants. The new ones made from Sil-Nylon are much lighter!
- 2 SLEEPING PADS: You need two pads, one closed cell pad such as a Ridge Rest or a Karrimat and a self inflating pad. Therm-a-Rest inflatable pads are among the warmest and most comfortable for their weight. Guides’ Pick: Exped “Downmat 7” paired with a full length Deluxe Ridge Rest. **There are some tricks that will help you with an Exped Downmat, so call or email for some advice!
TECHNICAL CLIMBING EQUIPMENT
- ICE AXE: (with leash.) A 70-80 cm length works well for Kahiltna Dome and the West Buttress. Guides’ Pick: the Black Diamond Raven Pro is very light yet has a durable steel pick and adze.
- CRAMPONS: 10 or 12 point crampons that FIT YOUR BOOTS! Step in or “New-matic” work equally well, just make sure step-in versions fit with your boots. Aluminum crampons are not acceptable.
- HARNESS: Your harness must have adjustable leg loops. The Black Diamond Blizzard and Alpine Bod harnesses are both lightweight and functional.
- ASCENDERS: You can pair one full-sized ascender such as the Petzl Ascension with a prussik loop for your feet or bring two full sized ascenders. If you opt for only one full sized ascender, try to make it a left-handed one for future ease of use on the fixed lines of the West Buttress. Also be sure to have some 6 mm cord (10 feet +/-) or a Daisy Chain for attaching your ascender to your harness.
- HELMET: Look for a lightweight climbing helmet that will fit comfortably over your warm hat.
- CARABINERS: Bring two locking carabiners and eight regular carabiners. Mark them with colored tape for identification. Please no bent-gate ‘biners! Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond “Neutrinos” are very lightweight.
- PERLON CORD: 60 feet of 5 or 6 mm for sled and pack tie offs.
ESSENTIAL PERSONAL ITEMS
- STUFF BAGS (for your own items, plus one large stuff sac for a cache bag
- EXTRA ACCESSORY STRAPS ( if needed for your gear + group gear)
- CAMELBACK HYDRATION SYSTEM (optional)
- (2)ONE QT. WIDE MOUTH WATER BOTTLES
- INSULATED COVER (1or 2 for your water bottles).
- LARGE PLASTIC CUP for eating (2-4 cup measuring bowl or Rubbermaid storage bowl)
- INSULATED CUP for hot drinks
- LARGE PLASTIC (LEXAN) SPOON
- LIP BALM (WITH SPF)
- SUN CREAM (3-4 OUNCES)
- TOILET PAPER
- TOILET KIT (Tooth brush & paste, floss, Handi-wipes,…keep it small)
- SWISS ARMY KNIFE (optional)
- P-BOTTLE (wide mouth collapsible Nalgene work great- they make a 96 ounce version! Ladies bring an adapter and please practice before you come)
- PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT (Blister kit, aspirin, antacids, lozenges, Ibuprofen… **Contact your personal physician about prescription medications that may be appropriate for this climb. The Mountain Trip office can give you suggestions regarding what to inquire about)
- CAMERA, lots of film or extra memory card
- BOOK(S) for storm day reading
- DIARY & PENCIL
- ALTIMETER WATCH
- HAND LOTION
- FOOT POWDER
- NECK GAITER
- SPARE SUN GLASSES (If you wear prescription glasses)
- STAMPED POSTCARDS
- PERSONAL MUSIC PLAYER(MP3 PLAYER, ETC)
- CELL PHONE
RENTAL ITEMS AVAILABLE
- SNOWSHOES ($50)
- SKI POLES ($20)
- CRAMPONS ($30)
- ICE AXE ($25)
- ASCENDER ($20 ea.)
- EXPEDITION PACK ($75-$100)
- SUMMIT PARKA ($60)
ALL EQUIPMENT ON THIS LIST IS AVAILABLE AT AMH IN ANCHORAGE -
And you get a 10% discount. Check out their Web site: www.alaskamountaineering.com or call 907 272-1811.
FEATHERED FRIENDS WILL ALSO GIVE YOU A 10% DISCOUNT IF YOU
TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE JOINING US ON AN EXPEDITION www.featheredfriends.com.
MAKE SURE YOU TRY EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU BRING IT TO ALASKA!!
CALL OR EMAIL US WITH YOUR MOUNTAINEERING TRAINING OR EQUIPMENT QUESTIONS.