Guided Ham n’ Eggs Climb
Alpine Style on the Moose’s Tooth
This is the climb you’ve been training for. We climb the classic Ham and Eggs Coulouir (V, 5.6, AI4) to the summit of one of the most sought after peaks in the Alaska Range – The Moose’s Tooth. The couloir was first climbed by Jon Krakauer, Thomas Davies, and Nate Zinsser in July of 1975. It took over 20 years for the route to see another ascent, but since that time it’s status as an alpine classic has been cemented. 18 pitches and 2900 feet of climbing take you to the summit of the Moose’s Tooth and some of the best views in the range of Denali, Foraker, Hunter, and Huntington. This is a one of a kind trip in a stunning location!
After arriving in Anchorage we travel to Talkeetna- a historic and funky town that comes alive with climbers every summer. From Talkeetna we board a ski plane and take a stunning flight into the Ruth Gorge. Snow, ice and granite dominate every view. We establish base camp near the landing zone and begin training for the climbing to come.
The SJMG/AK Connection
Winter in the San Juans bears many similarities to alpine climbing in Alaska. Cold temperatures, steep climbing and altitude closely resemble many of the challenges climber’s face in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge. As a result, San Juan Mountain Guides have run numerous successful climbing trips and expeditions to the range – on routes such as Ham n’ Eggs and Shaken not Stirred on the Moose’s Tooth – to the SW Ridge of Peak 11,300. The combination of our experienced, AMGA Certified Guides and local knowledge of the Alaska Range gives you the best chance for success on climbs in this range.
Gary is extremely professional yet he didn’t let us go without having a lot of fun. I never felt unsafe or that he wasn’t looking out for us, whether it was feeding us (great cook!) or making sure we were taken care of. He adapted to changes. He kept the team focused and on track at all times! – J. Morse. Private Trip 2010
Ham n’ Eggs Expedition Itinerary
The Ham n’ Eggs route on the Moose’s Tooth is best scheduled as a 7 day trip. The climb itself can be completed in less time , but weather and other delays can necessitate using every available day to attempt the climb. As with all climbs in the Alaska Range, it’s best to approach the climb with a flexible attitude and be ready to climb when the opportunity presents itself – be it on Day 2 or Day 6 of the itinerary.
Arrive in Anchorage and drive to Talkeetna. Your guide will pick you up at the airport in a rental vehicle. There will be time to stop by either REI or AMH for last minute gear purchases and supplies if necessary. If arriving on an early morning flight on this day (12 – 1 am) then you will want to get a hotel near the airport. Stay in a hotel.
Pack and prepare to fly into the Ruth Gorge in the afternoon. You will check in with the NPS in the morning after a Roadhouse Breakfast – which SJMG will purchase if you can eat the “Roadhouse Full Breakfast”. We’ll hope to fly into the range in the early afternoon but weather or other factors can delay this part of the itinerary. Camp out or stay in a hotel.
Skills review and preparation for Ham and Eggs. We may choose to recon the route on this day if we have been successful flying in the day before by climbing the routes first 3 – 4 pitches then descending back to camp. Camp out.
Climb Ham and Eggs and descend back to camp. We prefer to climb the route as a single push objective, carrying the minimum amount of overnight gear thus keeping the pack weights light. Round trip route times can be anywhere from 13 – 22 hours. In order to accomplish climbing the route by this method we need a good stable weather window and favorable conditions on the route. The other method of climb the route is to do an overnight at the col, and though this shortens the day pack weights are heavier and we need a longer window of good weather. Camp out.
Weather day. Itinerary flexibility for inclement weather or other delays. If we have completed the route we can fly out on this day or attempt another route in the Ruth Gorge. Camp out or stay in a hotel.
Weather day. Itinerary flexibility for inclement weather or other delays. We may fly out back to Talkeetna on this day. Camp out or stay in a hotel.
Fly out to Talkeetna, then Anchorage for flight home. Or continue trip in the Ruth Gorge for other alpine objectives
Ham n’ Eggs Expedition Equipment List
- Duffel Bag: A 100 + liter gear bag made of rugged material.
- Backpack: Approximately 45 – 55 L – Alpine Climbing Pack. Guides’ pick: Osprey Variant 52
- Sleeping bag: Down bag rated between 0 to -20 degrees Farenheit with compression stuff sack. Guides’ pick: Neutrino Endurance 400
- Sleeping pad: 1 full length air mattress and 1 foam half pad. Guides’ pick: Thermarest Prolite 4.
- Bowl, spoon, cup: Plastic/lexan
- Pocket knife: 2-3 inch blade, simple, light
- Small thermos: Very nice to have for hot drinks.
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
- Water Bottle Insulators: Mandatory
- Pee Bottle: Bring an extra bottle specifically for this.
Clothing and Personal Equipment
- Climbing boots: Insulated double boots or insulated climbing boots with a zippered gaiter. La Sportiva Spantik or Scarpa 6000 or similar. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
- Socks: 3 pair of medium to heavy weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
- Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Mid Layers: Versatile fleece mid-layer. Guides’ Pick: OR Centrifuge Jacket
- Soft shell pants: Warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Cirque Pant
- Soft shell jacket: Your workhorse jacket with a hoot. Guides’ pick: OR Alibi Jacket
- Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Axiom Jacket
- Insultated Jacket: Warm down or synthetic jacket with a hood suitable for Alaska climbing. Guides Pick: OR Virtuoso Hoody
- Hats: One pile hat, one buff, and one baseball cap. Bring a balaclava too.
- Gloves: 3 pair. One heavy with gauntlet, one mid-weight, and one lighter weight glove.
- Sunglasses: Category 4 lenses
- Goggles: Mandatory
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof. At least SPF 50.
- Headlamp: With extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Hand and Foot Warmers: Bring a few of these packets.
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Digital Camera
- Book/Magazine: For down time at camp
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Snowshoes: With adjustable trekking poles
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking carabiners: 3 locking carabiners
- Non Locking carabiners: 6 – 8 non lockers, wire gate preferred
- Slings: 1 double length and 2 single length spectra slings
- Crampons: Step in crampons that fit well on your boots. Guides Pick: BD Sabretooth
- Ice Axes: 2 technical ice tools with BD Spinner leash and 1 extra pick
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
1Before Your Trip
Climbers who would like to schedule a Ham n’ Eggs climb with us must have also previously climbed with SJMG in the San Juans on ice climbs in the area. In certain circumstances we can accept climber’s with documented previous experience on other similar technical routes and climbs. The best preparation and training assumes not only a strong background in ice climbing skills (ability to comfortably follow WI 4/4+) but also required is excellent cardiovascular fitness and previous experience on long multi-pitch rock and ice routes. As mentioned earlier, the San Juans represent one of the premier destinations in the country to gain this type of experiential background and skill level.
For the Ham n’ Eggs climb you should be ready for:
- Backcountry travel and life on an Alaskan glacier
- 15 – 24 hours of climbing and descent in technical terrain
- Cold temperatures, fickle weather, delays, and other factors beyond control
2Follow Up Climbs
I found this to be a great experience and enjoyed all of the personnel and guides associated with San Juan – particularly Matt Pickren! – Steve K. 2011 Private Program
Talkeetna, Alaska: Getting There
Talkeetna, Alaska is the gateway to Denali National Park and the myriad of mountaineering objectives found within. The small historic town swells during the climbing season (April – July) as mountaineers from all backgrounds attempt climbs in the Alaska Range. The town boasts a few good restaurants, hotels, and plenty of small planes!
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Anchorage, Alaska. We will pick you up at the airport in a rental car, or you may arrange your own transportation to Talkeetna.
Driving: Driving to Alaska is an experience like no other. If you’re into the “full experience” consider driving up to Alaska on the AlCan. It might just turn out to be the highlight of your trip!
- Seattle, WA to Anchorage, AK: 34 hours
- Ouray, CO to Anchorage, AK: 48 hours
Hotels: If flying into Anchorage early you’ll want to arrange lodging for at least 1 night in Anchorage. Beyond that we’ll be staying in Talkeetna for 1 night. We arrange for lodging in Talkeetna, typically at the Swiss Alaska.
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and trip leadership with AMGA Certified Guides
- Round trip Transportation from Anchorage to Talkeetna
- 1 night of lodging in Talkeetna
- Bush flights from Talkeetna round trip
- Breakfasts and dinners on the mountain
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, etc.)
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Anchorage, AK
- Additional hotel costs before or after the program
- Personal Lunch Food
- 3% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal alpine climbing clothing
- Costs associated with early returns, weather delays, or other factors beyond our control
- Guide gratuity
- Registration and Cancellation:
- You will need to fill out our Domestic Registration Form, cancellation policy agreement, and liability waiver, and send it to us with a 50% deposit as early as possible prior to the course date. Balance is due on the first day of the course. Please click on our Registration/Travel link to access the required forms.
The guides were professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. The office staff was also great and very helpful. Thanks for a great trip and I look forward to more trips with San Juan Mountain Guides. – Trevor Y. Chicago Basin 14′ers 2011