Alaska Range

Ski Mountaineering Courses in the Alaska Range

This spring I had two trips into Denali National Park and Preserve which holds the mighty peaks and glaciers known as the Alaska Range. These were instructional courses where students had an interest in expanding their mountain skills to allow them to do their own future trips on glaciated terrain.

First trip was with two local Alaska ladies. I love getting out into the mountains with fellow Alaskans. There is an incredible playground right out the door of our homes. We flew in at the end of April into an area I’ve never been to before. With 33 trips for me into the Alaska Range it was really neat to get into an entire new area that I’ve been wanting to go to for awhile. The venue worked out well and I would certainly go back again!


4:00am wakeup for an epic sunrise.


Roped up getting a feel of the area and snowpack.


Skied a nearby glacier that made for 3.2 miles of continuous skiing. It was one of, if not the longest ski run I’ve ever done in my life.


Crevasse rescue training. Prevention is of course the best practice to avoid a crevasse fall but when it happens you better know exactly what to do… and fast. I like to focus on teaching the importance of the big picture during an incident as lots of issues can arise. Assume a crevasse fall will not be straightforward, if it is, then your practice will make it easy. Of all the haul systems out there the two I think are best to teach are the dropped loop 2:1 and a 6:1. If you need more hauling power than a 6:1 then there is something wrong.


Cruising down the glacier. Glaciers are like highways in the big mountains, they get you places until you exit off for your objective.


Two people that now have the Alaska Range addiction. Super fun trip out in the mountains, thanks Jana and Milissa.


On another day of exploration.


Good old map and compass navigation is a dying skill. GPS units will fail you once in a while and batteries die.


We missed first tracks on this run. My partner Joe Stock at Alaska Guide Collective had a trip on a nearby glacier and snipped the line. He was coming over to say hello but we were off on our own adventure that day. We all met up back in Talkeetna.


Shortly after this run we packed up camp and flew out before a weeks worth of storms rolled in.

Second Trip - Pika Glacier, Little Swiss

After a week of unpacking, office work and repacking I went back in with two guys visiting from California. These guys had lots of experience ski mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada mountains but needed the glacier travel portion so they can get that full freedom of the hills feeling. When I think of “ski mountaineering” in Alaska I think of objectives that require glacier travel and maybe the occasional use of ropes for getting yourself up and/or down a ski run. Unlike the craggier peaks of the Sierra’s or Tetons, here in Alaska our peaks are typically stacked with deep snowpacks and we often focus on the bigger open runs.


Unloading one of Talkeetna Air Taxi’s de Havilland beavers onto the Pika Glacier in the Little Switzerland area. Little Swiss is a popular place in the Alaska Range, and for good reason.


Just cruising around checking out the area and snow conditions.


This is one of my favorite photos from this season. I started to add my logo onto @remarkable.adv Instagram page posts, thinking it gives it a little added pro touch.


Good morning - it’s a really nice day! Wanna go skiing?


We had beautiful weather.


Incredible view of Mount Foraker (aka Sultana “The Mother”) from camp.


Super fun people to have out in the mountains. Best of luck on your adventures Bill and Wes! Hope to see you again sometime.


Another group below the Crown Jewel.


Here comes our flight out. Thanks TAT for the professional flight service as always - see ya next time.

Thanks for reading!

Kodiak. Crevasse Rescue. The Alaska Range!

Spring work this year for Remarkable Adventures consisted of a trip to Kodiak Island and a one day custom Crevasse Rescue Course. After that it was into the Alaska Range to teach a course for the Alaska Mountaineering School.

Kodiak Alaska

In May I went for a quick weekend trip to Kodiak to work with the KISAR team (Kodiak Island Search and Rescue). Here we got a heli bump right up to the new cabin KISAR built for their training missions.

Kodiak Alaska, backcountry skiing

This picture does not show how strong the winds were. Here we circled up real quick, shouting over the wind to make a group decision on what our plan was, where and how we were going to get there. Higher up the wind flapping on my jacket hood was so loud I wished I had ear plugs in. A funny thing about Kodiak is, to the locals, this was a really nice day to be out in the mountains. The weather is notoriously gnarly!

Kodiak Alaska, ski to sea

It's always a good time working with my friend and work partner Joe Stock of Stock Alpine, LLC. Joe and I keep in contact to discuss our businesses and learn from each other. As the only certified guides living and working in the Anchorage and Girdwood area we exclusively share our guest inquiries if we are already booked up. For larger groups we always hope to be able to work them together. 

Kodiak Alaska, skiing

Good times hiking through the woods with ski boots and skis on your pack. It is always (most times) worth a little mud and bushwhacking to end a good skiing trip.  photo by - Steve Weilebski.

Remarkable Adventures, rope ascention

Right after Kodiak I was back home to teach a one day crevasse rescue course to a local Girdwood group - father, son and their friend. It's always great to work with Alaskans. We started our day learning and practicing our rope ascension, a vital skill to know how to get yourself out of a crevasse. Tree limbs work great to sling a rope over and learn your ascension system.

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

We chose Tincan in Turnagain Pass as our location for the day to be able to easily access the late May snow in order to maximize learning and minimize the time it would have taken to reach a glacier. We found a perfect safe spot to work on crevasse rescue skills. 

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

Hauling with a basic 3:1 "Z-pully" system. We later went over having the ability to be able to rappel to your victim, help them, ascend out and then haul them up with a dropped loop 2:1 or 6:1. This is what every glacier travel partner should be able to quickly and competently do. It was a really nice spring day on the snow!

My final spring work was teaching a Denali Prep course for the Alaska Mountaineering School. These three photos are from our camp at the Kahiltna Base Camp. Stunning views of the big three peaks of the Alaska Range: Mt Hunter, Mt Foraker and Denali. We had two really nice days of weather to start the course and were able to cover the necessary skills to be able to move and progress through the rest of the week...

Whiteout on a glacier

...Then we woke at 3am to go for a peak ascent of Radio Control Tower. We woke to full-on whiteout conditions and it stayed like that for 5 days. This is an odd photo to post but that was our view for 5 days, our neighbors tent is not far away in this photo.

You just can't go out safely wandering around on a glacier in these conditions with hundreds of crevasses around you. I've had the motto of using whiteout navigation skills only to get you back home to safety, not to head out from safety, I will continue to try and live by this motto. Instead of our climbing ambitions we went over classes, re-practiced our crevasse rescue and worked a lot on patience waiting for the weather to change. Patience can be a really important skill to have for trips to Alaska. Most of the time the weather and conditions are good but sometimes you just have to sit there. 

Kahiltna Base Camp, Alaska Range

The Alaska Range is a special place. The grandeur of the mountains and glaciers cannot be explained, it must be witnessed in person. This trip logs my 30th expedition into the Alaska Range, it never gets old and I look forward to more. I also look forward to more return visits into the Wrangell-St. Elias, the inner Chugach, the Tordrillo Mountains and the Neacola's among the lifetimes of other places I've never been to in this great land of Alaska.