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Welcome to Alaska, the coolest mountaineering classroom in the world. Fly into the heart of the remote Chugach Range, where you’ll spend a week mastering the art of mountain climbing on pristine backcountry terrain. Learn how to use mountaineering gear, safely traverse rock & ice, avoid avalanches, camp in deep snow, and so much more. The low guest-to-guide ratio will expedite your progress, and the flexible itinerary means the weather will never be an issue. When the week is over, you’ll leave Alaska with the skills to bag big peaks—and some truly epic pics!

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  • Master mountaineering

    Learn the basics and get set for bigger climbs

  • The perfect classroom

    Virgin, undeveloped terrain that’s ideal for learners

  • Adaptable schedule

    Flexible itinerary means no day will be wasted

Available itineraries

Group Mountaineering Course in Alaska

Master the fundamentals of mountaineering in Alaska’s remote Chugach range! Join a group of equally skilled adventurers and spend a week learning fundamental rock, ice, and snow traversal techniques. The small guest-to-guide ratio and flexible itinerary guarantee full personalization.

  • You will fly deep into the Chugach Mountains to access a remote valley, where you’ll get to practice the fundamentals of mountaineering and apply them in the perfect learning environment. The curriculum will be fully customized to your learning style and abilities, and the small group format will ensure guaranteed instruction.

    Here are some of the things you will learn:

      • Movement technique on rock, ice and snow
      • Climbing knots & hitches
      • Anchor building
      • Belaying and rappelling
      • Gear familiarity and maintenance
      • Navigation and terrain assessment
      • Roped travel
      • Avalanche safety basics
      • Snow camping (depending on conditions)
  • Meet your van shuttle in Anchorage and get ready for the long, super scenic drive to McCarthy. With a few breaks at scenic spots, you’ll be arriving with the rest of the trip participants around 5pm. Your guides will meet you there, and show you to the rustic bunkrooms of their historic Motherlode Powerhouse HQ building. After dinner, they’ll run you through an evening orientation and group pack before letting you hit the hay.

  • After breakfast, head to the airstrip and hop on a small bush plane. Enjoy a scenic 45min flight deep into the Chugach Mountains. Take in the views of the largest National Park in the country! After landing at the airstrip, it will take you a couple of hours to carry your gear to the perfect camping area, where you’ll set up camp and set the stage for the week’s adventures! Day 2’s lessons will be shorter leaving you more time to explore your outdoor classroom.+

  • Each subsequent day will begin with a delicious breakfast and a planning sesh. The exact curriculum will largely be determined by the abilities and interests of the group participants, as well as the weather and conditions.

    On good-weather days, your guides will prioritize being outside and moving higher up on the mountain for various lessons and employ the learning-by-doing method. If it’s cloudy and drizzley, they will pick outdoor classrooms closer to camp and if it gets too wet, you will pile into your cook tent(s) for some tent learning. Most nights you will return to the same camp and enjoy a hearty dinner cooked up by your guides.

    At some point on the trip, the goal is to attempt a climb of one of the local summits, allowing you the opportunity to solidify your new skills with practice. Sometimes this climb happens at the end of the trip and takes a day or two, other times it begins right away and learning happens on the go – the timing here is very much dictated by the weather forecasting and the conditions.

    There is always a chance that the climb might not be possible due to weather or the abilities of the group, and if this is the case, your guides will do their best to capitalize on what is available to the group and facilitate a different and equally memorable learning opportunity.
    Your guides cannot control the weather, and out here, they can hardly predict it either!

  • You’ll have the majority of the last day in the backcountry, so plan on learning up to the last minute! After your last day’s lessons and practice, break-down camp and start shuttling your gear back to the strip.

    A late-afternoon pick up will allow you to get a birds-eye view of these incredible mountains in a different light as you fly back to McCarthy. Back from the wilds but not entirely in civilization quite yet, you’ll be welcomed back to your guide’s campus, enjoy a cold beverage in their hot sauna and a warm bed in our historic bunkrooms again.

    Mountaineers walking connected with a rope in Alaska
  • After one final breakfast with your guides and group, you will hop on a shuttle back to Anchorage. Take another opportunity to get some phenomenal Alaskan photos – or let yourself be rocked to sleep by the bumpy road. You’ll arrive in Anchorage around 5pm. Your guides recommend spending this night in Anchorage before flying home or your next Alaskan adventure. This will allow some buffer in your itinerary for any unexpected delays.

Private Mountaineering Course in Alaska

Want to summit mountains with your friends and family? This private mountaineering course in the Chugach Mountains was made for you. Master basic mountaineering skills, such as anchor building, roped travel, and snow camping, under the watchful eyes of seasoned guide. The 4:1 guest-to-guide ratio means you’ll advance your skills in record time.

  • You will fly deep into the Chugach Mountains to access a remote valley, where you’ll get to practice the fundamentals of mountaineering and apply them in the perfect learning environment. The curriculum will be fully customized to your learning style and abilities, and the small group format will ensure guaranteed instruction.

    Here are some of the things you will learn:

      • Movement technique on rock, ice and snow
      • Climbing knots & hitches
      • Anchor building
      • Belaying and rappelling
      • Gear familiarity and maintenance
      • Navigation and terrain assessment
      • Roped travel
      • Avalanche safety basics
      • Snow camping (depending on conditions)
  • Meet your van shuttle in Anchorage and get ready for the long, super scenic drive to McCarthy. With a few breaks at scenic spots, you’ll be arriving with the rest of the trip participants around 5pm. Your guides will meet you there, and show you to the rustic bunkrooms of their historic Motherlode Powerhouse HQ building. After dinner, they’ll run you through an evening orientation and group pack before letting you hit the hay.

  • After breakfast, head to the airstrip and hop on a small bush plane. Enjoy a scenic 45min flight deep into the Chugach Mountains. Take in the views of the largest National Park in the country! After landing at the airstrip, it will take you a couple of hours to carry your gear to the perfect camping area, where you’ll set up camp and set the stage for the week’s adventures! Day 2’s lessons will be shorter leaving you more time to explore your outdoor classroom.+

  • Each subsequent day will begin with a delicious breakfast and a planning sesh. The exact curriculum will largely be determined by the abilities and interests of the group participants, as well as the weather and conditions.

    On good-weather days, your guides will prioritize being outside and moving higher up on the mountain for various lessons and employ the learning-by-doing method. If it’s cloudy and drizzley, they will pick outdoor classrooms closer to camp and if it gets too wet, you will pile into your cook tent(s) for some tent learning. Most nights you will return to the same camp and enjoy a hearty dinner cooked up by your guides.

    At some point on the trip, the goal is to attempt a climb of one of the local summits, allowing you the opportunity to solidify your new skills with practice. Sometimes this climb happens at the end of the trip and takes a day or two, other times it begins right away and learning happens on the go – the timing here is very much dictated by the weather forecasting and the conditions.

    There is always a chance that the climb might not be possible due to weather or the abilities of the group, and if this is the case, your guides will do their best to capitalize on what is available to the group and facilitate a different and equally memorable learning opportunity.
    Your guides cannot control the weather, and out here, they can hardly predict it either!

  • You’ll have the majority of the last day in the backcountry, so plan on learning up to the last minute! After your last day’s lessons and practice, break-down camp and start shuttling your gear back to the strip.

    A late-afternoon pick up will allow you to get a birds-eye view of these incredible mountains in a different light as you fly back to McCarthy. Back from the wilds but not entirely in civilization quite yet, you’ll be welcomed back to your guide’s campus, enjoy a cold beverage in their hot sauna and a warm bed in our historic bunkrooms again.

    Mountaineers walking connected with a rope in Alaska
  • After one final breakfast with your guides and group, you will hop on a shuttle back to Anchorage. Take another opportunity to get some phenomenal Alaskan photos – or let yourself be rocked to sleep by the bumpy road. You’ll arrive in Anchorage around 5pm. Your guides recommend spending this night in Anchorage before flying home or your next Alaskan adventure. This will allow some buffer in your itinerary for any unexpected delays.

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Meet your guide

St. Elias Alpine Guides
5.00
St. Elias Alpine Guides
St. Elias Alpine Guides is the oldest continuously operating business in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Since 1978, they have guided thousands of adventures on successful trips through this very special part of the Alaskan wilderness. Is it their mission to empower adventurers to experience their trip of a lifetime. There are now more than 45 expertly trained guides, and they keep on adding new trips to transfer their knowledge, expertise, and passion to as many guests as possible.
5.00 (1 reviews)
Astrid (source: Guide’s website)

We’ve done a 5-day Intro to Mountaineering and 5-day backpacking on the Upper Goat Trail with SEAG. The guides were very experienced, super-friendly, and very motivating. We learned a lot about mountaineering skills on the first trip – an ideal introduction to mountaineering! We now feel ready to hit the mountains on our own! The guides did a great job at identifying our strengths and weaknesses and working on them with us, expanding our comfort zones in the mountains by a lot every single day of the trip.

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced, local mountaineering guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • Five days of mountaineering courses
      • Van transportation to and from Anchorage
      • Two 40-min bush flights to and from the Chugach Mountains
      • Lodging in historic bunkrooms
      • All food for the duration of the trip
      • Group camping gear (bear canisters, cookware, fuel, tents)
      • Group technical gear (ropes, protection, ice tools, beacon, shovel, probe)
      • Non-technical crampons

    Note: Even though tents are included in the price of the tour, your guides recommend that you bring your own tent if possible. They also recommend that you bring as much of your own technical equipment as possible, so you can familiarize yourself with it and learn how to use it.

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to Alaska
      • Accommodations before and after the trip
      • Personal camping and technical gear
  • Mountaineering is a more extreme version of hiking that combines hiking with other skills like rock climbing and skiing. The crucial difference between hiking and mountaineering is the equipment that the terrain and the conditions demand. If you’ve had to employ any (not necessarily all) of the following ­– an ice axe, crampons, rope, and harness or helmet – the chances are that you’ve strayed into mountaineering territory.

  • You need to have excellent fitness levels to participate in this adventure. You will be covering 3-10 miles (4.8 – 16 km) a day with up to 2500 ft (760 m) of elevation gain/loss, all the while carrying your gear along with a portion of the group gear (total pack weights vary daily but usually come in at 20-30 lbs/ 9-13.5 kg). Your guides recommend starting physical training in preparation for this trip 1-2 months in advance. This trip is great for very fit hikers or backpackers with at least three +2-day trips under their belts. That said, the more experience you have, the better prepared you will be for the “Alaska factor” and the better you’ll retain the course material.

  • Your guides pride themselves on cooking healthy and delicious meals even under the most adverse conditions. Your exact menu will depend on the trip, your guide, and the dietary preferences/restrictions.

    No matter what kind of cook your guide is at home, all of your guides are well-trained backcountry chefs and use time-tested recipes from their proprietary cookbook for their trips. They carry a plentiful and varied stock of ingredients and most meals are prepared from scratch (allowing for easy substitutions, additions or subtractions of ingredients). They only use pre-packed freeze-dried meals on summit pushes

    You can expect 3 meals a day, plus snacks of your choice. Breakfasts and dinners are usually hot meals and lunches are served cold. On mountaineering trips lunches consist of a variety of snacks as it can be hard to organize group meals while on a rope team.

  • Here’s a list of the technical mountaineering equipment you need to bring:

      • Ice axe with leash
      • Two technical ice tools — provided by guide
      • Crampons — provided by guide
      • Alpine harness with adjustable leg loops
      • Three large locking carabiners, four small locking carabiners, five non-locking carabiners
      • Belay device
      • Two cordelettes — 6mm or 7mm static cord
      • Extra rigging — 30 inches of 5-6mm cord or 9/16” tubular webbing

    Here’s a list of some optional technical equipment. Ask your guide if you need it for the trip:

      • Snowshoes
      • Avalanche safety kit (transceiver, shovel, & probe)

    Here are the clothes and gear that you need to bring:

      • Mountaineering-specific boots
      • Gaiters
      • Socks
      • Comfortable camp booties or shoes
      • Baselayer bottoms — optional
      • Climbing pant
      • Hardshell pant
      • Puffy pants — optional
      • Sun shirt
      • Baselayer top
      • Lightweight insulating layer
      • Shell jacket with hood
      • Insulated parka with hood
      • Light glove
      • Medium glove
      • Heavy gloves or mitts
      • Sunglasses
      • Goggles — optional
      • Warm hat
      • Sun hat
      • Buff — optional
      • Face mask, neck-gator, or balaclava — optional

    Here is some additional equipment you should bring:

      • Cup, bowl, and spoon
      • Toiletry kit
      • Water bottle(s)
      • Camera
      • Knife
      • Headlamp
      • Sunscreen/sunblock

    The following are optional items your guides recommend bringing:

      • Watch
      • Bug net
      • Eye mask + ear plugs
      • Thermos
      • Stuff sacks
      • Urination device
      • Book, journal, an pencil
      • Binoculars
      • Compass

    You will be provided with a more detailed equipment list upon booking. Your guides will provide all the group equipment, including the tents, cooking equipment, bear canister, etc.

    A set of crampons, as well as a shared set of ice screws, ice tools, and ropes will be included in the price of the trip. Your guides also offer a limited supply of rental equipment. If you need to rent something, please make arrangements with them in advance.

  • Group sizes and pricing

      • For these adventures, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 4:1, with a max of 8 participants per group.
      • For the group trip, the cost is final and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
      • For the private trip, the cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to mountaineer with friends and family!

    Mountaineering courses in Alaska can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 but older than 16 may be permitted to join the trips on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
      • Minors under 16 cannot participate in these trips.

    If your group has mountaineers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to your course in the Chugach Mountains, most people fly into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. You will meet your guide in Anchorage at a pre-arranged time.

    A van shuttle will then take you to McCarthy, AK, where you will meet your guide around 5 pm, marking the start of your tour.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance.

    With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more. Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters, and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. For more information on travel recommendations and restrictions in Alaska, please refer to Travel Alaska’s official COVID-19 guidelines.

    If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A $1,000 USD deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid thirty (30) days prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to one forty-six (46) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund.
      • For cancellations forty-five (45) to thirty-one (31) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a full refund minus the $1,000 USD deposit paid when Booking.
      • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
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