Overview:

Skiing and riding in the shadow of the continent’s first and third highest peaks (Denali & Sultana, respectively) is a once in a lifetime experience. Denali National Park & Preserve provides skiers and riders with some of the most astounding ski mountaineering and a wealth of backcountry skiing fun. Ski mountaineers consider this a classic destination due to its accessibility via ski plane and abundance of diverse terrain right outside your front door.  Our base camp on the glacier will include roomy tents, great meals with fresh food, and the best view you could imagine!  

What sets this trip apart from other Alaska trips is the focus on true ski mountaineering. You’ll be introduced to and apply both uphill and downhill techniques in glaciated terrain. Steep couloirs cut between dramatic rock walls and wide-open glaciers with complex icefalls are some of the highlights that the Pika Glacier, aka “Little Switzerland” has to offer. We recommend taking an Intro to Ski Mountaineering Course, or have previous ski mountaineering experience before attending this trip, but skiing and riding on the Pika is a realistic option for all levels of skiers and riders. You don’t have to be a veteran rider or skier to enjoy the bountiful opportunities that Denali National Park can provide. In addition to providing access to remote backcountry terrain, this trip provides our guests with the opportunity to live the expedition life while capitalizing on world-class riding and skiing day in and day out. 

This is a true Alaskan ski touring adventure that you won’t forget!

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1:

From Anchorage, AK, shuttle to Talkeetna, AK. Along the way we’ll stop for an hour or so to do a group grocery shopping mission. After arriving in Talkeetna we’ll head to Talkeetna Air Taxi (TAT) to register for our flight into Denali National Park. The group will then make a visit to National Park Headquarters to register the expedition and do a group briefing on expedition life on the glacier. If all goes well with weather the group may even fly into the glacier on Day 1.

Day 2:

After settling in to camp life with a hearty breakfast, the team will spend the morning covering crevasse rescue methods and discuss self-care for the remaining days on the glacier. After a quick lunch we’ll tour to our first destination for some turns; usually the “Backyard” or a descent down the Plunger’s East Face.

Day 3:

Day 3 usually consists of a more exploratory tour towards the Port Cullis or perhaps towards the Royal Couloir down glacier. Either of these are a great intro to steeper skiing on the glacier and will set the team up well for future ski mountaineering descents in the week. 

Day 4:

Built in weather day. Preliminary “Powder 8” competition in the Backyard. 

Day 5:

Exploratory tour towards Italy’s Boot North Face; this is a tremendous north facing glacier riddled with large crevasses and amazing views into the interior of the Alaska Range. Despite the cracked up nature of this glacier there is a lower angle (35*) run that weaves its way perfectly through the glacier to provide a 2000’ descent of unparalleled quality. 

Day 6:

Exploratory tour either towards the Hobbit King or a gravity fed descent down to the Granite Glacier. Either of these options include 2,000-3,000’ descents in moderately steep (40-45*) terrain into more “remote” parts of the Little Switzerland area. Final Powder 8 competition!

Day 7:

Fly off glacier and back to Talkeetna. Spend an evening at the infamous Fairview Inn for revelry…

Day 8:

Shuttle back to Anchorage. Catch red-eye flights back to the lower-48.

Meeting location:

Anchorage, AK

Notes:

Payment Schedule:

· 50% deposit due upon registration
· Balance due 90 days before Day 1 of trip

Expedition Cancellation Policy:

· A refund minus a 10% administrative fee can be issued 120 days prior to trip start.
· 50% will be refunded 90 to 120 days before trip start.
· 25% will be refunded 75 to 90 days before trip start.
· Inside of 75 day, no refund is available.
· This expedition requires a minimum of three clients, but may be booked individually. If we cancel a trip prior to its start for low enrollment, we will fully refund your payments. You will be notified at least 75 days prior to the trip. We recommend you confirm your flight itinerary with Colorado Mountain School before booking travel.

All Upcoming Dates and Locations:

  • No dates found

Prerequisites:

Participants should be in good physical condition. Expect 6-8 hour tours with up to 5,000′ of climbing.  You should be comfortable with basic ski touring techniques such as skinning with kick turns, transitions, and skiing variable snow.  Comfort in non-groomed advanced/expert terrain at the ski area is a good benchmark.

Preparation:

CMS guides encourage participants to do a prep day before the trip. Intro to Ski Mountaineering or a private guiding day are recommended.

Minimum Age:

18

Price Includes:

  • Shuttle from Anchorage to Talkeetna and back, glacier flight, food, camping equipment, guide fees

Price Excludes:

  • Food and lodging while off glacier, ski equipment, gratuities
Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Auto Block

This is a small sewn loop to assist in rappelling. The #1 choice on the market is the Sterling Hollowblock, or the Sterling Autoblock.

1

Sterling Auto Block

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Avalanche Beacon

Modern, digital, three-antennae beacon with fresh batteries.

1

BCA Tracker 2 or 3

 

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Probe

Collapsable metal or carbon rod used to probe avalanche debris while attempting to strike a buried target.

1

BCA Stealth 300

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Rescue Shovel

Ski specific shovel used to dig pits and avalanche rescue. A metal blade is mandatory.

1

BCA B1 Ext

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Baselayer Bottoms

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Lightweight or mid-weight are recommended.

1

Men: Rab Forge Leggings
Women: Rab Forge Leggings

Rab

Clothing
Beanie or Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay and Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.

1

CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Bowl, mug, fork, and spoon

Personal utensils

1

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Harness

UIAA or CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.

1

CAMP Laser CR

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Climbing Skins

Nylon or mohair. Trimmed and adjusted to fit your skis or splitboard ahead of time.

1

Dynafit Speedskin

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Compass

Used for navigation and orientation. A compass with adjustable declination is preferrable.

1

Silva Ranger CLQ

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Hardshell Pants

These should be non-insulated pants with ankle cuffs wide enough to fit over your ski or ride boots.

1

Men: Rab Sharp Edge Pants
Women: Rab Women's Kangri GTX Pants

Rab Stores

Clothing
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Heavyweight Waterproof Glove

This glove comes out when the winter going gets cold and wet or at higher altitudes.

1

RAB Storm Glove

Rab Store

Clothing
Hot Drinks

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa are great for warming up when it's cold outside.

1

Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a "wicking" layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Forge LS Tee
Women: Rab Force LS Tee

Rab Store

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

RAB Power Stretch Pro

Rab Store

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Nucleus Hoody
Women: Rab Nucleus Hoody

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Midweight Softshell Glove

This is the workhorse glove and is most often worn on warmer days when mountaineering. Softshell gloves are water-resistant and durable. They often have leather palms and fingers.

1

RAB Guide2 GTX Glove

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Mountaineering Axe

Utilized in ascending or descending snow slopes. Ideal length is variable based on terrain and height of person.

1

CAMP Alpina

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Mountaineering Crampons

Steel crampons with horizontal front points are ideal. Must be semi-rigid and compatible with your boots.

1

CAMP Alpinist Universal

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Neck Gaiter

"Buffs" are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Pajamas

It can be nice to have something clean to change into each night for sleeping in your sleeping bag.

1 Clothing
Personal Care Items

Medications, glasses or contacts, feminine products, etc.

1 Optional
Personal Toilet Kit

At minimum, bring a small Ziploc with toilet paper. Consider bringing a travel sized package of hand-wipes. Idealy, purchase, or for free from the RMNP Backcountry office, bring a "Rest Stop." The Rest Stop, known as "Blue Bags" in the Pacific Northwest, or the "Wag Bag" in other areas, are poop-in-a-bag systems that include toilet paper and a sanitizing hand wipe.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Rock Climbing Helmet

UIAA/CE approved; Should be large enough to fit over a beanie. Plastic helmets are more durable, but heavier. Foam helmets are lighter, but more easily damaged when carried in a pack.

1

CAMP Titan

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Ski Crampons

Each binding style has ski crampons that fit them specifically.

1

Dynafit Ski Crampons

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski Helmet

This item is recommended but not required. We will be skiing in the trees, and in snow conditions where rocks, stumps, and downded logs are present.

1

Camp Speed Comp

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski or Snowboard Boots

Footwear should be appropriate to mode of travel i.e. ski, snowboard, or insulated winter boots for snowshoes. For snowshoers, a boot such as the Scarpa Mont Blanc is the minimum level of boot required. Ski Boots should have a walk mode.

1

Scarpa Maestrale RS

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski or Trekking Poles

Two poles, with powder baskets, are required for all skiers, splitboarders, and snowshoers. It is ideal if poles are ski-specific and collapse small enough to fit onto a pack when climbing.

1

BCA Scepter

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski Straps

18" Rubber or velcro straps to connect skis when attaching them to a pack. Also useful for a variety of in-the-field equipment repairs.

2

BCA Ski Strap

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Skis or Snowboard

Skis should have touring bindings; lightweight tech bindings are ideal. Splitboards are ideal for snowboarders. Snowboarders using resort snowboards will need to have snowshoes and poles.

1

Dynafit Beast 98; Dynafit ST Radical 100

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Sleeping Bag (0° to -30°)

Down or synthetic sleeping bag is acceptible.

1

Rab Ascent 1100

Rab Store

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Sleeping pad

Insulated air mattresses or foam are ideal. Uninsulated air mattresses are not recommended.

1

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps - keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Snow Saw

For cutting columns during snowpack analysis

1

BCA 35cm Snow  Saw

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Softshell and Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it "breaths," which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab Salvo Jacket
Women: Rab Salvo Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon "hiking pants" are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Vapour Rise Guide
Women: Rab Vapour Rise Guide

Rab Store

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sunglasses

"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

Julbo Shield

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Electron Jacket
Women: Rab Electron Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Synthetic or Merino Wool Socks

Wool and synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. "Ski" and "Snowboard" socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Thermos

Many ice climbers prefer to bring a thermos of hot water or soup instead of one of their water bottles.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toe Warmers and Hand Heaters

Help keep you warm on particularly cold days.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toiletries

Bring enough for the trip. Toothpaste & brush, floss, deoderant, lotion, eye drops, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

1 Optional
Watch with Altimiter

An altimeter is very useful in gauging progression of altitude gain or loss when climbing, and especially when visibility is decreased due to weather. Many Altimeter watches have compasses or GPS tracking functions.

1

Suunto Vector; Suunto Core

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: RAB Ladakh GTX Jacket
Women: RAB Women's Kangri GRX Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing

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