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The Last Frontier

Earlier this week a CMS expedition team returned from the Alaskan Mountaineering Seminar. This expedition was based out of the Ruth Gorge, which is located within Denali National Park.

Pictures just don’t do this place justice. The views are majestic and the climbing is amazing. The Ruth Glacier, which is where we had basecamp set up, is one mile wide and is surrounded by many mountains of the Alaskan Range, including Moose’s Tooth, Mt. Dickey, and Mt. Barrill.

Right out of the gate the team knew lady luck was on their side. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason Frontier Airlines didn’t charge any baggage fees. Personally, I feel those fees are a joke, so that was great to hear.

28 hours after arriving in Alaska, the team arrived at their basecamp location on the Ruth Glacier. On the flight in they got another little bonus of being able to land at the Kahiltna basecamp. This is the launching point for individuals climbing Denali.

The first full day on the glacier had a relaxing start. They made some breakfast and took advantage of great block cutting conditions by building walls around camp. The afternoon was spent going over glacier rigs, crevasse rescue, and glacier travel. The next day they woke up early and headed over to the Japanese Coulior on Mount Barill. The idea was to check out conditions and get familiar with the route. After about 800 feet of climbing in variable conditions the team headed back to camp for rest.

The following day the team set their eyes on Mt. Dickey. It is hard to image the scale of this thing. It towers over the glacier with about a 5,000’ east facing rock face. The team worked its way around the crevasses and made it to high camp at 747 pass. With an alpine start the next morning the team worked their way up the West Ridge. They stopped short of the actual summit, but were able to summit what they call “Baby Dickey”. After a long hike the team reached basecamp at 7pm, tired and ready for bed.

Feeling a little tired and happy with their attempt on Dickey, the team opted to spend the next couple of days ice climbing, building anchors, rappelling, and ascending fixed lines. Each day was beautiful and warm. The team scheduled an afternoon pickup and spent the rest of the day in Talkeetna drinking beers, eating burgers, and relaxing in town.

Overall the trip was a success. With classic ice routes, amazing snow climbs, and the perfect training ground; the Alaskan Range is the place to be. Hopefully you can join us next year.

If you have any question about this expedition or any of our other expeditions, don’t hesitate to give me a call.


E.J. Nogaski
Expedition Manager
Colorado Mountain School
800-836-4008 x201

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