This course takes you to a place in south central Alaska often referred to as "the mountain kingdom of North America," where a chain of rugged mountain ranges and spectacular glaciers converge to make a mountaineer's dreamscape.
Challenge yourself to learn the skills needed to climb the mountains you’ve always dreamed about. Learn what it takes to be a leader in a harsh environment. Learn to make a glacier your home and let the mountain air clear your lungs each morning. If you’re looking to develop mountaineering skills that can take you from the wilds of Alaska to Himalayan summits, then this is the course for you.
Encounter vast glaciers and rugged terrain while traveling through Alaska’s Chugach Range, the interior Alaska Range, or the vast Wrangell-St. Elias Range.
You will spend most of your course on snow and ice. Early season courses (May and June) will likely spend most of their time above snowline, while later courses (going into July ) may experience more time on bare ice and rocky moraines of lower glaciers before gaining firn line and traveling on snow-covered glacier. Depending on your route and conditions, you may spend your time trying to accomplish summit attempts in a playground of peaks or traverse an expansive icefield.
You will begin with the basics of learning to live in both the tundra and glacier environments, including cooking, camping, and camping and traveling in bear territory. On the glacier, you will begin the climbing curriculum, practicing with knot-tying, rope handling, rope team travel, self-arrest and belaying. As you gain competence, you will learn more advanced skills on more demanding terrain, including crevasse rescue, route finding on a glacier, avalanche hazard assessment and the use of 4th and 5th class rope systems for protection during more exposed travel.
This course will take advantage of every opportunity to prepare you for future expeditions in glaciated ranges; your instructors will focus on developing skills and judgment rather than “peak bagging.”
Routes are chosen based on many variables (snow conditions, river levels, time of year, etc.), and may be changed at the last moment. As a result, we cannot tell you the exact location of your course until your arrival in Palmer. Regardless of the route, you will learn the skills you need to live and travel responsibly and efficiently in challenging mountain terrain.
*Duration: 30 days
*Route length: 50-120 miles
*Average group size: 12 students / 3 instructors
*Average age: 21 / minimum age: 17
*Average pack weight: 50-60 lbs.
*Elevation range: 5,000-12,000 feet
*Snow and ice mountaineering skills development
*Introduction to avalanche assessment skills, snow camping techniques, glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques
*Living on glaciers for 60-90% of the course
*Travel by crampon, ski, snowshoe or on foot and possibly towing sleds