Denali Ski Base Camp, Central Alaska Range


Ski Mountaineering in Denali National Park

Most central Alaska Range glacier landings are with a Turbo Otter. Other common bush planes are the Beaver and Super Cub.

The Central Alaska Range has the biggest mountains in North America including Denali at 20,320 feet and Mount Foraker at 17,402 feet. The lower elevation peaks that ring these giants have a deep snowpack and perfect terrain for skiing. 

From Anchorage, we'll drive two and half hours north to the character-laden town of Talkeetna. After checking in at the Ranger Station, we'll weigh and load our gear into a Talkeetna Air Taxi bush plane and fly 45 minutes into the mountains. Once on the glacier, we'll set up a fat base camp and review crevasse and avalanche companion rescue skills. The next day we begin skiing and continue skiing as long as your energy and conditions allow.

Our base camp will be fun and comfortable. We will sleep and cook altogether in a six-person dome tent that is tall enough for standing. The food is not gourmet, but plentiful and the kind you crave after a big day of skiing. The latrine will be either a Denali Clean Mountain Can or Luggable Loo so we can transport the waste out of the mountains.  

Terrain and Location

Exactly where we go depends on your interest and conditions. Terrain options exist for all abilities: from moderate glacier runs to steep chutes. Although most of the skiing will be on glaciers, we will be on smaller cirque glaciers that hang above the bigger valley glaciers. These cirque glaciers have smaller crevasses allowing us to ski downhill unroped. 

Popular Central Alaska ski mountaineering locations include the Pika Glacier in Little Switzerland, The Mountain House on the Ruth Glacier and Kahiltna Base Camp. Where we go exactly depends on current condition reports from professionals in the area, Joe's recent trips, and Joe's knowledge of the area from 30-something trips into the Central Alaska Range. 

See Denali Ski Base Camp posts

"...just wanted to get over in writing to you how damn cool the trip was last week and how much we appreciated you working your nuts off throughout…  you’ve ruined most future ski trips by it being so good, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world! You were awesome." Tom Collins, DSBC 2016

Denali Weather Links 

Skill Level   

  • Intermediate to advanced alpine ski skills. 
  • Endurance for consecutive full days in the mountains. 
  • Recent avalanche companion rescue practice. We will have assessment and review before our tour. 
  • Previous winter camping experience is helpful, but not required. 
  • Previous glacier travel experience is helpful, but not required. 

Dates

April-June. Six days on the glacier. 

Flexible Itinerary

Day 0: Meet at Susitna Place in Anchorage at 5pm for trip overview and gear check. We'll make last minute gear purchases at AMH and then have dinner across the street at the Bear Tooth Grill.

Day 1: Meet at Susitna Place at 8am. Drive two and a half hours to Talkeetna and load gear into a bush plane. Fly 45 minutes into the Alaska Range. After setting up a fat base camp, we'll review avalanche and crevasse companion rescue. 

Day 2-5: Tour all day.

Day 6: Pack up and fly back to Talkeetna for burgers and beer at the Denali Brewery. Drive back to Anchorage. Stay in Anchorage. 

Day 7: Fly home. To allow for weather delays, please leave Anchorage no earlier than the evening of Day 7.

Cost 

Includes

  • AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide Joe Stock. A second guide may be added over four customers. 
  • Glacier air taxi. 
  • Mountain food. 
  • Group cook gear, tents and ropes. 
  • Navigation, first aid and repair kits. 
  • Emergency shelter and communication. 

Does Not Include 

  • Hotels. See the Southcentral Alaska logistics page. 
  • Transport between Anchorage and Talkeetna. Using your personal or rental car is the best option. If possible, the guide will ride with you. 
  • Restaurant meals or alcohol. 
  • Personal ski mountaineering gear. See Alaska Backcountry Ski Gear List
  • Rescue and trip insurance. See Booking for details. 
  • Costs from schedule changes such as hotels, meals off the mountain, and transport. 

The Air Taxi Caveat—Please Read and Understand

While air taxis add to the Alaska experience, they also add delays that are out of Stock Alpine control. We estimate that half of the fly-in trips have some flight delay. Air taxi delays include, but are not limited to: mechanical delays, multi-day weather delays both on the flight in and flight out, scheduling complications and pilot complications. Of course our goal is to minimize these complications and maximize the skiing and success of the trip. Alaska requires flexibility. If you are flexible the rewards are huge. If you have expectations and are not flexible then we recommend a trip elsewhere. 

Paul Roderick is the owner of Talkeetna Air Taxi, our pilot to fly into the Alaska Range. Paul is an avid skier and knows the Alaska Range better than anyone. 

 

Our base camp is a six-person dome. Sleeping and hanging out in the same tent adds to the excitement and comradare of the trip. You can have your own personal tent, but it will be cold and lonely.  

 

Burgers and beer after a huge day of skiing!

 

Testing the snow quality on the first run of the trip. Our camp is the speck in the shadow below. Mount Foraker and Denali are the high distant mountains.

 

After extensive testing, we often find the snow to be soft and plentiful. 

 

Booting up a steep chute above camp, which is the speck in the shadow below. If conditions allow, we can attempt the plentiful steep chutes and faces. 

 

Sightseeing in the Ruth Gorge. Here the ice is 4,000-feet thick. The rock walls are 5,000 feet tall, the highest in the United States. 

 

Flying back into Talkeetna. Time for a shower and beers!