Alaska Range Ski Expeditions
Join Mountain Trip on a ski mountaineering trip into the heart of the Alaska Range! This trip is for experienced backcountry skiers who are looking to take it to the next level. The Alaska Range is glaciated, and provides a huge variety of ski opportunities from steep couloirs to wide-open glaciers there’s something to challenge anyone. Exactly where we end up in the Alaska Range depends on weather and snow conditions as well as the interests and abilities of the group. We will be winter camping, spending the nights in our comfortable basecamp and exploring some of the best skiing in North America by day.
After flying into Anchorage, doing a gear check, and grabbing any last-minute items, we will drive two and a half hours north towards Denali National Park. We’ll launch from Talkeetna in a ski plane and land on a glacier where we’ll set up a comfortable basecamp from which to ski tour and climb in the biggest mountains in North America. Before we go in search of powder we will review crevasse rescue and glacier travel techniques, setting ourselves up to explore the surrounding peaks and slopes on the following days. All of our basecamps have ski access to a range of different slopes, from moderate slopes to steep and extreme couloirs, allowing us to customize each trip for your group! Some potential locations we may end up include the Pika Glacier, the Eldridge Glacier and the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltnal Glacier.
We will be traveling and skiing on glaciers the majority of the time, so everyone will be wearing a harness while skiing. No previous glacier travel or crevasse rescue knowledge is required as we will review that skillset in addition to companion rescue before we venture out of camp.
Mountain Trip is an AMGA accredited guide service permitted to operate within Denali National Park. Your ski guides will be AMGA certified or have relevant AMGA training in the ski discipline. We look forward to skiing some of the best powder in North America with you. Give us a call or click the link below to start planning your ski expedition into the Alaska Range. All ski expeditions into the Alaska Range are run by Mountain Trip Alaska, LLC.
The following is a general list of required gear for ski mountaineering with Mountain Trip. Skiers joining us will receive an updated, comprehensive equipment list that may supersede this list. In general, you want a selection of warm layers that can work together.
Many of the items on the list need to fit you well in order for you to fully enjoy your experience in the mountains. Please plan ahead with equipment purchased for your trip so you can be certain that your gear fits you well. Recommended items reflect the opinions of our guides. We have used and have faith in all of our recommendations, but they may not necessarily fit or work for you.
Please follow this list closely and do not hesitate to call us for clarifications or to solicit an opinion about anything you are considering. There is a good selection of gear available in Telluride as well as Anchorage, and we have a good selection of loaner and rental gear, so just let us know what you might need.
|Backcountry Ski Poles||Adjustable ski poles are fantastic as they allow you to change length for skinning vs. skiing. Any poles with powder baskets will work.|
|Climbing Skins||Climbing skins pre-cut for your touring skis. We include skins for our rental skis.|
|Backcountry Skis||A lightweight ski setup with touring specific bindings is a great way to maximize the fun in the backcountry. Mountain Trip has a fleet of Black Diamond touring skis with pin bindings for you to rent for Colorado backcountry ski trips.|
|Ski Helmet||We recommend skiing with a ski helmet. Any downhill ski helmet will work.|
Avalanche Safety Equipment
|Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon||When traveling in avalanche terrain, whether it is backcountry skiing in the Alaska Range, or Colorado, we will wear avalanche transceivers (beacons). We will have an opportunity to practice at the start of the trip. Beacons are included for Colorado backcountry ski trips and available for rent on other climbs and expeditions.|
|Avalanche Probe||An avalanche probe specifically for backcountry skiing.|
|Avalanche Shovel||You want a shovel that has a removable handle so that you can stow it in your backpack while touring. Metal bladed shovels only.|
|Backcountry Ski Backpack||A backpack specific for backcountry skiing is recommended, these packs will have a separate pocket specifically for avalanche rescue gear. We also recommend skiing with an avalanche airbag, Mountain Trip has a fleet of Black Diamond airbag backpacks for rent on Colorado backcountry ski trips.|
|Booties||Lightweight down fill booties both work well on expeditions. These are great for camp and tent comfort and allow you extra opportunity to dry out your mountain or ski boots.|
|Touring Boots||We recommend a touring compatible ski boot. If you have your own boots some helpful features include; walk mode and pin binding compatibility. Whatever boot you decide to use, make sure it is compatible with your touring bindings. Mountain Trip has a fleet of La Sportiva touring boots if you need to rent.|
|Ski Socks||You will want ski socks that fit your foot well and are warm. For multi-day trips or ski expeditions, we recommend multiple pairs of socks so you can dry pairs overnight.|
|Expedition Down Parka||This is an important layer so don't skimp! You do not need the heaviest 8000meter parka for peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, but you should have a warm, baffled parka with a hood.|
|Base Layer Top||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers. Long sleeve or short sleeve base layers work well.|
|Light Fleece Hoody||Light/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.|
|Soft Shell Wind Jacket||Many high alpine peaks are cold and dry. We are huge fans of very lightweight softshell wind jackets for high, dry, cold peaks. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. This layer is used in addition to your more waterproof hard shell jacket.|
|“T” or Sun Shirt||Synthetic or synthetic/cotton blend shirts are nice for hiding from the sun. Long sleeve "sun hoodies" are becoming increasingly popular, as they provide a high level of sun protection. Other people favor ventilated, button up shirts- either long or short-sleeved. Whatever you choose, consider it as part of your system, and try it out before your trip.|
|Vest (optional)||A lightweight down or synthetic filled vest can be a nice addition and add some warmth with little weight. This is an optional layer for most climbers.|
|Sun Hoody (optional)||A Sun Hoody is a great lightweight layer to help protect you from the intense UV at high altitude. It's a go-to layer for our guides, as it both keeps the sun off your skin and helps keeps you cool. Highly recommended, but **OPTIONAL|
|Light Down Shirt (optional)||A light "Down Shirt" layer is a great way to add some warmth to your layering system for very minimal weight. For cold expeditions like Mount Vinson, or early season (April and early May) Denali expeditions, or 8000 meter peaks, an extra layer like this is great insurance against the cold, and provides nice layering options without getting a heavier down/puffy jacket. **(OPTIONAL)|
|Ski Shell||We recommend a gore-tex ski shell that is water resistant but light weight at the same time.|
|Puffy Jacket Skiing||A warm puffy jacket to throw on at the top of the skin track, during breaks, in the early am or on cold days.|
|Base Layer Bottoms||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers.|
|Light Fleece Bottoms||As the air thins and the wind picks up, you'll want a bit more insulation on your legs. This should be a slightly warmer layer that can go over your base layer bottoms when it gets cold.|
|Puffy Insulated Expedition Pants||On summit day or on a cold morning, you will need a warm layer that can go over your baselayers and softshell pants. This layer should be down or synthetic (ie. Primaloft) filled and must have fully separating side zippers. Practice putting these puffy pants on and taking them off while wearing your boots before you leave for your expedition.|
|Underwear||Consider synthetic or Merino wool for your underwear. Most longer trips, such as Aconcagua or Denali, typically require 3-4 pair, but choose your quantity based on your personal level of comfort.|
|Ski Pant||A goretex or softshell ski pant with ventilation is recommended.|
Head and Hands
|Heavyweight Gloves||Warm, insulated gloves are the day-to-day workhorses on cold peaks or for cold days of ice climbing. We prefer gloves with removable liners for ease of drying.|
|Medium Weight Gloves||A Mid-weight glove will generally be a softshell type glove with some light synthetic insulation.|
|Light Weight Gloves||When the sun comes out on a glacier, the temperature can soar. Light weight, soft shell gloves are great for keeping the sun off your hands, while still giving you a bit of protection from the wind and cold.|
|Buff Neck Gaiter||Buff is a brand of light weight neck gaiters that have grown to become a staple of every guide's kit. These are amazingly versatile, and can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter or pulled over your face for protection from the wind or sun. They come in many thicknesses nowadays, but we prefer the original weight for its versatility.|
|Warm Hat||Bring one warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or fleece are fine, but your hat must provide ear protection from the cold.|
|Sun Hat||Baseball type or wide brimmed sun hats are required for protection against the intense sunshine found on many peaks. You can combine a baseball hat with a BUFF for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.|
|Hand Warmers||Bring 4 -6+ sets of these disposable insurance policies, depending on where you are climbing. Make certain that your hand warmers are relatively new, as they do go bad over time.|
|Glacier Glasses||Good, dark (Category 4) glacier glasses are a must for high altitude climbs. They must have side protection and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays.|
|Ski Goggles||These are necessary for use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells. These must have double lenses and provide full UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so the “Turbo Fan” goggles are worth the investment! Select a general purpose lens that will provide some protection in bright light, but not be so dark as to make them useless on a cloudy or flat-light day.|
|Nose Guard||Beko makes nice nose protectors that keep the wind and sun from wreaking havoc on your skin.|
|Inflatable Sleeping Pad||Inflatable pads have improved tremendously in recent years. Whether you choose a self inflating pad or one that requires some pumping to inflate, select a pad that is warm and comfortable.|
|Foam Sleeping Pad||Bringing two sleeping pads, one closed cell foam and the other an inflatable pad, will provide additional comfort and insulation, as well as a bit of insurance in case you have a catastrophic failure of your inflatable pad.|
|Compression Stuff Sack||Granite Gear, Outdoor Research and others are all making nice, lightweight compression sacks. These are essential for sleeping bags and recommended for your summit clothes, such as your parka, mitts and warmest pants, so you might consider bringing two.|
|Sleeping Bag (-20 – 0)||You'll want a bag rated between -20 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Down or synthetic will work fine, although down is lighter and more compact for traveling and packing. If you sleep cold, go with a bag rated to a colder temperature.|
Packs and Duffels
|Large Zippered Duffel||You'll want an XL sized (90 – 100L) duffel for your expedition. Lightweight and inexpensive bags work fine, although water resistant bags like the Patagonia Black Hole Bag 100L are nice for their toughness to weight ratio. A quality duffel bag can work for a sled bag on Denali, a mule bag on Aconcagua and a great all around travel bag.|
|Ice Axe||A general use, mountaineering axe is sufficient for this climb. Some axes are much lighter than others, so select for weight as well as a size for your height. Most climbers do well with a 60 - 75 cm axe. On less technical routes, a longer axe can act like a walking stick on flatter terrain.|
|Alpine Climbing Harness||Your harness should be adjustable enough to accommodate several layers of clothing. As with most items on this list, choose a light weight harness.|
|Locking Carabiners||Bring three locking carabiners. Screwgate or auto-locking 'biners work equally well, although the new magnetic gate versions seem like they might be less prone to freezing closed. Select light weight carabiners.|
|Accessory/Prussik Cord||25-30 feet of 6mm-7mm accessory cord will be used to create a prussik, rig your ascender, and extra for setting up your sled for glacier travel. We will go over this in our pre-trip training.|
|Primary Attachment Locking Carabiner||For your primary attachment to the rope, we will us a "triple action" locking carabiner. Triple Action (TriAct) carabiners will not come unlocked while you are traveling on the glacier. You only need one of these carabiners.|
|Stuff Sacks||We are fans of the very light stiff sacks made from Sil Nylon fabric. Bring enough for your clothes and personal items. Light, zippered stuff bags are really nice for toiletries.|
|Two (2) One-Liter Water Bottles||You will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.|
|Insulated Bottle Cover(s)||Water bottles freeze when it gets cold. Crazy, but true! Extra clothing can help insulate bottles, but dedicated water bottle insulators do a much better job. Bring at least one.|
|Large Plastic Bowl||Bowls are much easier to use and are much more versatile than are plates. Bring a 2-4 cup camping bowl or a plastic "Rubbermaid" style container for your mountain dining.|
|Insulated Cup or Mug||A 12 - 16 ounce (350-500 Ml) mug with an attached lid will help keep you hydrated. The Kleen Kanteen Insulated Bottle with the "Cafe Cap" is pretty nifty, as it is a mug and a thermos all in one!|
|Lexan Spoon||A soup spoon made from Lexan will survive most trips and is more useful and versatile than a fork or even a "spork." Mark your spoon with your initials to keep spoon rustlers at bay.|
|P-Bottle||Wide-mouth, collapsible Nalgene Cantenes work great- they make a 96 ounce version, which will come in handy during long storms or if you take Diamox. Ladies- look for an appropriate adapter available at your local outdoors store. These items can both be tough to find in Anchorage so plan ahead!|
|Toiletry Kit||Tooth brush & paste, dental floss, Handi-wipes (1 per day on average), a small bottle of hand sanitizer, perhaps some foot powder… keep it small!!!|
|Toilet Paper||Depending on your technique, you'll want 1-2 rolls, each packed in a quality zip-lock bag.|
|Personal Medical Kit||Mountain Trip's guides will have fairly comprehensive medical kits developed by our Medical Director, but we encourage each climber to bring a small, personal kit. Items to consider bringing include: blister treatment and prevention, pain relievers, and antacids. Presctiption medications should be based on consultation with your personal physician. Suggested drugs for altitude expeditions include: Diamox (acetazolomide) 125 mg, Decadron (dexamthazone) 4 mg, Nifedipine XR 30 mg, and a couple of antibiotics for respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.|
|Journal (and pencil)||Expeditions can be a great time for reflection and a journal can be a nice way to wax poetic or just keep track of what you did each day. Keep it small and leave the leather bound version at home.|
|Book(s) or E-Reader||There is a lot of "down time" on an expedition, even when you have good weather. An expedition can be a good time to catch up on reading!|
|Camera||Small, light weight point and shoot cameras are most popular among climbers. Be sure to bring extra memory and batteries!|
|Altimeter Watch||An altimeter watch can be fun to have on an expedition to keep track of your ascent and to watch for changes in barometric pressure.|
|Lighter||Your guides will have plenty of lighters, but it is nice to have one lighter per tent, as cord always needs to be cut and melted.|
|Small Knife||A small knife or small multi-tool is also handy to have. One per tent is sufficient. There is emphasis on the word small when it comes to multi-tools!|
|Personal Music/Video Device||iPhones or iPods and the like are really nice on a long trip. Consider how you will keep it charged, and bring whatever is necessary to keep you in time to the beat.|
|Satellite Tracking/Texting Device||Satellite linked devices such as the Garmin inReach have been increasingly popular, as you can send and receive text messages with it. Again- consider how you will keep it powered over the course of your expedition. These new devices will allow you to send and receive text messages nearly anywhere in the world! It is a fun way to keep in touch with the family and let them follow along on your journey. They are not required, and Mountain Trip guides carry several forms of communication devices including satellite based communications that we can use in case of an emergency situation.|
|Several Good Jokes!||"A Moose walks into a bar..."|
|Lip Balm||Bring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).|
|Sunscreen||The sun can be intense at altitude. Bring one small tube for use while climbing and one larger tube for use while not on route.|
|Headlamp||Bring an extra set of batteries, as well. Lithium batteries work the best in cold weather!! For some trips (Carstensz, Everest, Cho Oyu) where we will be frequently climbing at night a second headlamp is a good idea, and always bring extra batteries!|
|Solar Panel/Battery *optional||If you are planning to charge your iPhone, inReach, or other electronics on the expedition you will need a good, small solar panel. We recommend using the panel to charge a battery and then charging your devices from the battery. This is definitely some extra weight, so keep it light and maybe share a panel and battery with your tentmate!|
Refunds and Cancellations
Mountain Trip recognizes how difficult and disappointing it can be for skiers who must cancel ski expeditions which they have planned for a long time. Team members must also recognize that, due to the nature of planning expeditions and dealing with governmental permits and regulations, Mountain Trip also accrues significant expenses in the months prior to expedition departure dates. We must therefore adhere to a strict refund policy for all skiers. Trip cancellation and travel insurance is generally available for all expeditions. U.S. and Canadian residents should contact us for more information regarding travel insurance. Our refund and cancellation policy is outlined below.
• All Alaska Range ski expeditions require a $1000 deposit to secure a spot on the team. Your submission of a deposit constitutes your acceptance of this Fee Schedule, Refund and Cancellation Policy.
• All deposits for Alaska Range ski expeditions include a non-refundable $250 administration fee.
• Final payments for expeditions must be received 120 days prior to the Team Meeting Day.
• Failure to pay expedition fees by the date they are due constitutes cancellation of your spot on the team and forfeiture of your deposit.
• Any cancellation 90+ days before your Team Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.
• No refunds will be provided for cancellations occurring within the last 89 days prior to an expedition.
• All requests for refunds must be made in writing and received in our Colorado office.
• If you register for an expedition within 90 days of the Team Meeting Day, expedition fees will be due in full to secure your spot on the team.
• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In such an event, all monies collected by Mountain Trip from team members for that expedition shall be promptly refunded. This is the extent of our financial liability.
General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members
When registering for a ski expedition with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.
Transportation is incidental
The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us on an expedition in the mountains. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays.
Transportation to and from your destination
We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your ski expedition. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your expedition. This probably means you will need to arrive the day before, as our Team Meetings for Alaska trips are held in the morning. Expedition skiing is very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination. We suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.
Lodging off the mountain
Mountain Trip will provide lodging per the Inclusions and Exclusions section above. Any additional lodging is your responsibility. Don’t worry about booking a room after your expedition. Occasionally weather dictates how long we’ll be in the mountains, and we can help arrange lodging when we return to “civilization.”
Responsibilities of Team Members
You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist on the trip and choosing an expedition that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for providing Mountain Trip staff and guides with an accurate representation of your fitness level, climbing and skiing ability and the condition of your personal equipment. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your expedition. Skiers joining scheduled expeditions are expected to contribute to camp construction and the day to day teamwork.
While on the expedition, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from an expedition.
Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave an expedition due to an illness.
Airline Responsibility Passenger/Airline contracts are in effect while team members are on board any aircraft contracted for use in the expedition.
No Guaranteed Outcomes
We all hope for endless powder and spectacular weather however as we all know, we don’t always have perfect conditions. Any number of factors, including weather, the snow conditions encountered on the glacier, your personal level of fitness or ability, the abilities of your teammate(s) or any number of other circumstances might affect the quality and time spent skiing. Occasionally we encounter delays flying into the range due weather and the air taxis inability to fly under such conditions. Sub-optimal experiences due to any reason associated with expedition skiing, such as weather, team dynamics, snow conditions, avalanche hazard, rockfall hazard, etc, or due to your lack of fitness or preparation are not the responsibility of Mountain Trip and will not result in a refund or a rescheduling of your ski expedition.
Inclusions and Exclusions for Alaska Range Ski Expeditions
Included in the Trip Fee:
• Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources
• Guidance of our experienced Mountain Trip guides
• One night lodging (shared room) at the Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage before your expedition
• Airport transfer as provided by the Lakefront Hotel
• Team transportation in Anchorage for last-minute shopping on the day of your Team Meeting
• Round trip, scheduled group transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna
• Scheduled flights between Talkeetna and our glacier camp
• All food while on the glacier
• All group equipment (tents, kitchen, ropes, snow pickets, group med kit, satellite phone, GPS tracker, etc)
• Custom expedition dispatch blog for your climb, complete with audio posts from team members calling from the glacier
• 25% Discount on Patagonia clothing and equipment
• Assistance arranging for post-ski activities in Alaska
Not Included in the Trip Fee:
• Flights to and from Alaska
• Personal clothing and equipment per our equipment list
• Touring skis, boots, skins, poles and airbag pack.
• Avalanche Transciever, shovel and probe
• Any additional lodging including post-expedition lodging.
• Meals while not on the mountain
• Denali National Park entrance fee ($15) paid to the National Park Service at the time you register for your backcountry permit.
• Travel and/or rescue insurance
• Costs incurred due to early evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain due to illness or other problems
• Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip
• Customary gratuities for guides
• Costs as a result of force majeure
• Customary gratuities for guides