Alaska Alpine Climbing: Little Switzerland
Spend nine days in some of the most beautiful mountains on the North American continent – the Alaska Range. Basing out of “Little Switzerland” we have the perfect alpine playground for training and climbing.
Light and fast is the mantra of the alpine mountaineer. Alpine climbing refers to a particular style of mountain climbing that involves a mixture of snow climbing, ice climbing, rock climbing, and glacier travel, where climbers generally single-carry their loads between camps, in a single push for the summit. SJMG’s Alaska Alpine Climbing program takes place in the ideally situated Little Switzerland climbing area in Denali National Park. The incredible variety of terrain is ideally suited for learning alpine climbing skills, and offers numerous moderate and enjoyable climbs. Our alpine course has been designed to prepare you for guided ascents of more demanding alpine objectives worldwide, or to enable you to lead your own adventures on other peaks.
Fly in a ski plane to the beautiful Pika Glacier, in the heart of North America’s highest mountains. Become well versed in the skills of alpine climbing in the best classroom possible: the mountains of the Alaska Range.
Enjoy the lighter packs and ease of travel of alpine mountaineering.
Put your new skills to test during the program as the team makes attempts on several summits.
Rock and steep snow climbing, route planning, belay & rappel techniques, gear placement and multi pitch strategies are some of the skills introduced and practiced during the course. Our experienced guides offer extensive personal instruction through the course, from the teaching of climbing fundamentals to instruction and guidance during the climbs.
June 20 – June 30
$6500 per person
No Hidden Fees
- Guiding and trip leadership with AMGA Trained Guides
- Private Round Trip Transportation from ANC to Talkeetna
- Bush flights into the Alaska Range with TAT
- 1 night of lodging in Talkeetna
- All mountain food (breakfast, lunch and dinner on the glacier)
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing and technical equipment (ropes, etc.)
Little Switzerland Trip Itinerary
Day 1 TRAVEL
Meet the guides at Anchorage International Airport
Transportation to Talkeetna is included in the program. We’ll stop at a grocery store in Wasilla, for the opportunity to purchase any food you’d like to bring on the mountain. Overnight in Talkeetna.
Day 2 PRE-TRIP PREPARATION AND TRAINING
After a breakfast meeting we begin our preparation at TAT hangar where the team will go through personal equipment checks. Final recommendations and suggestions concerning gear will be made at that time. The team will prepare group food and equipment for the glacier flight. Instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations will be made as well. After all is made ready we begin shuttling members into the Pika Glacier, weather permitting. This spectacular scenic flight requires approximately 35 minutes, one way. Once at Little Switzerland Base Camp we build our base camp and kitchen
Day 3 TRAINING
At Little Switzerland Base Camp we review the foundational glacier travel skills that allow travel and access to more varied terrain. Skills reviewed on this day include: knots, harness, carabiner and avalanche transceiver use, proper use of the ice axe for balance and self and team arrest, cramponing on moderate terrain, and the basics of roped glacier travel. We spend the afternoon learning how to construct a variety of anchors for use in belaying, rappelling, crevasse rescue and rock rescue.
Other discussions take place throughout the seminar and cover a variety of mountaineering topics such as: mountain medicine and wellness, weather, route finding and navigation, route planning, self care and the art of climbing efficiently.
Days 4-8 ALPINE CLIMBING
We will spend the following 5 days on the high-quality granite found near Base Camp, as well as on some of the steep snow coulouirs attempting the summits of the multiple peaks that contour around the Pika Glacier. Additionally and simultaneously, we will seek every opportunity to work on your movement skills, gear placement, and anchor construction
The evenings are devoted to route planning for the next day’s climbing objective.
Day 9 PARTICIPANT-LED CLIMBS
With route plans, and our rock and ice gear in hand we head out for a day of climbing with the students taking the lead. Everyone will get a chance to be on the front of the rope, navigating through the crevasse fields, kicking steps up the snow gullies, determining the best climbing line and placing the protection.
Day 10 Dismantle Camp and fly out
Our last morning on the glacier is comprised of packing camp and moving back to the flight staging area. We fly from the Pika Glacier to Talkeetna for a celebratory dinner. Overnight in Talkeetna or continue to Anchorage
Day 11 TRAVEL Morning transfer to Anchorage for afternoon flights.
Little Swiss Alpine Climbing Equipment List
|Duffel Bag||Description||Guide's Pick|
|1 - 2 Large, durable bags for oragnizing and transporting your gear during airline travel etc.|
|Osprey’s Variant 52 is the ultimate pack for expedition and high alpine climbers. Designed to carry specialized mountain gear such as skis, wands, ice protection, and ice tools, this pack can be easily stripped down to minimize weight for a summit push.|
|Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.|
|Water Bottles||Description||Guide's Pick|
|We recommend wide mouth Nalgene (or similar) water bottles for the majority of our programs. Two 1 liter bottles is the standard for days in the mountains.|
|Bottle Insulators||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.|
|Stuff Sacks||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Stuff sacks are a great way to organize your gear in your pack and help to keep things tidy in a variety of ways. A great addition to any of our programs.|
|Personal Food||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Lunch begins when breakfast ends and ends when dinner begins. Bring what you like to eat and consider the length, relative difficulty, weight, and other factors when deciding what to bring in the mountains with you. A variety is always best. Don't be afraid of Mr. T.|
|A good pair of wrap around sunglasses are an essential item for all of our trips. When the sun shines brightly on fresh snow in the mountains your eyes will thank you for a quality pair of shades. Looking good is important too.|
|Essential for all of our programs. SPF 30 would be our minimum recommendation. Typically a 4 oz. bottle will suffice but consider trip length when deciding how much to pack.|
|Lip Balm||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.|
|A headlamp is recommended for all of our programs and is an essential piece of equipment you will use in a variety of circumstances. Most LED type headlamps will do but we recommend the Black Diamond Storm for its versatility.|
|First Aid Kit||Description||Guide's Pick|
|An excellent investment for all of our programs. Our guides always carry a comprehensive medical kit but it's nice to have your own as well.|
|Small Knife||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A small knife is an indispensable tool to carry with you in the mountains. We like the Spatha knife for its size, weight, versatility, and ability to clip onto a harness.|
|Digital Camera||Description||Guide's Pick|
|While phones these days offer excellent quality, nothing beats the reliability of a dedicated digital camera. You'll be glad you brought it and your guide will make sure to help capture the moment of you being awesome.|
|Hand Warmers||Description||Guide's Pick|
|An optional item, but nice to have on cold weather climbs and courses. Consider having a few stowed away in your pack and you can break them out if you feel you need them.|
|Ski Goggles||Description||Guide's Pick|
|From the sweeping peripheral in the Optimum lens, to the horizon-inspired frame structure, FARGO proves sometimes a quick stop in a small place leads to more than you would have ever expected. Goggles are mandatory on all ski programs and cold weather alpine objectives.|
|Synthetic socks area must for all outdoor activities. Select a pair that fits well, is warm, and is comfortable. Bring 2-3 pairs depending on the type of trip.|
|Base Layer Top||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Choosing the right base layer really makes a difference in comfort, moisture-wicking, and the balance between cool and warm at the right time and in the right places. The Outdoor Research Echo Hoody also offers good sun protection.|
|Base Layer Bottom||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Similar to the base layer top. These are wear all the time in all conditions base layer pants. A must have for alpine and ice climbing trips and objectives.|
|Mid Weight Top||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A midlayer for anything from ski tours to alpine ascents, the CoEfficient Hoody features Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency fleece with a gridded interior for increased wicking performance and added breathability. The under-the-helmet hood and full-length zipper let you regulate temperature on the go, so you don’t find yourself overheating a half hour into the day. A slim cut helps the CoEfficient Hoody fit comfortably under your shell, and with a redsigned, trim fit, this layer takes up little space in your pack.|
|Soft Shell Jacket||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Designed specifically with Ice and Alpine Climbers in mind, the Outdoor Research Iceline Jacket will foot the bill for your workhorse soft-shell jacket of choice in the mountains. Feature rich and detail oriented, our guides love to work and climb in this jacket.|
|Soft Shell Pants||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Cirque Pants are a durable, heavy-weight technical soft shell pant built for high-energy climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing. The highly breathable, wind and weather-resistant double-weave stretch fabric excels in high-mountain conditions. The zippered thigh pocket ensures energy bars and maps remain easily accessible.|
|Insulated Parka||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Ice climbers know a thing or two about staying warm in all those long, stationary stretches when their partner is leading a pitch. We made the Perch Belay Parka for them (and for anyone who wants water-resistant warmth while, say, grilling burgers in a ski resort parking lot in February).|
|Insulated Vest||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Same spirit, same guts, and same award-winning hybrid-mapped design of the Cathode Hooded Jacket, minus the sleeves and hood. An insulated vest is an optional item on our programs but we do think vests offer excellent flexible layering options in a variety of circumstances, weather conditions, and trip types.|
|Shell Jacket||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Our Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal “Gear of the Year” award-winning storm shell is engineered for fast-and-light alpine climbs and all-day backcountry tours. You need at minimum either a soft shell jacket or hard shell jacket for local Ouray based winter courses and programs.|
|Shell Pants||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Waterproof, breathable and lightweight, the GORE-TEX® Foray Pants provide dependable rain protection and shrug off the wear-and-tear of the trail and cityscape alike.|
|Warm Hat||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Booster’s reversible design lets you choose. The soft yarn blend will provide a cozy sanctuary throughout winter’s chill.|
|Baseball Cap||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A required item on the majority of our programs, a baseball cap helps to keep harmful sun off your face. The Radar Pocket cap is packable, durable, and looks great!|
|Lightweight Gloves||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Updated for touchscreen compatibility, the StormTracker Sensor Gloves are equally at home alpine climbing, ski touring or ice climbing. Low-profile GORE® WINDSTOPPER®. Soft Shell fabric deflects biting gusts, and a tricot lining retains valuable heat.|
|Midweight Gloves||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Built to handle cold mornings on the up-track and powder turns all the way back down, these versatile gloves feature a new stretch nylon shell outer, a goat leather palm with textured fingertips, and a warm, quick-drying wool blend lining.|
|Heavy Gloves||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Our pinnacle technical alpine climbing glove was inspired by the design of medieval gauntlets and built for elite climbers. These breathable three-in-one gloves—built with a GORE® WINDSTOPPER® soft shell outer and warm, removable, quick-drying wool blend liners—are perfect for multi-day endeavors.|
|Mountaineering Axe||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A modern version of Chouinard's original curved-pick mountain axe, the Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe is our classic mountaineer's piolet that has been used on classic climbs the world over for decades. The Raven's durable aircraft aluminum shaft and investment-cast stainless steel pick are engineered for secure self-arresting.|
|Belay Device||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A belay device is a required item on any of our technical climbing or mountaineering courses. While not necessary to have the Guide ATC specifically, we think owning one of these offers additional versatility as you progress and gain additional knowledge about the various levels of functionality provided by a device of this type.|
|The BD Aspect Harness is a great all around performer for all types of climbing - ice, rock, alpine etc. The adjustable leg loops and integrated ice clipper loops make this a solid investment as your do-all harness.|
|Locking Carabiners||Description||Guide's Pick|
|We recommend at minimum 2 - 3 personal locking carabiners on our climbing courses and any technical private guided program. We prefer classic screw gate carabiners over other types of locking mechanisms.|
|Climbing Helmet||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A versatile, hybrid-shell helmet for lightweight protection in any discipline, the Vector features excellent ventilation and a ratcheting adjuster.|
|Balaclava or Buff||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Simple, effective and infinitely adaptable, Original BUFF® headwear is the product that started the multifunctional headwear revolution. At its core is a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and able to control odor. We recommend the BUFF for all of our programs as a multi-purpose insulation piece and trendy headgear!|
|Non Locking Carabiners||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A selection of non-locking carabiners is recommended on all of our technical climbing programs. Consider at least 4 - 6 and we prefer wire gate carabiners over more traditional gate carabiners. Many options exist so just consider a variety when putting your carabiner rack together!|
|Climbing Boots||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Batura 2.0 GTX uses cutting edge proprietary two layer Gore® technology to create a boot that is warmer and more breathable for technical routes in the mountains. An integrated external gaiter with an asymmetrical zipper uses stretch Gore® technology to keep you dry while the inner boot uses another Gore® layer to allow moisture transport to the outer layer creating the ideal climate for your feet in cold conditions.|
|Adjustable Trekking Poles||Description||Guide's Pick|
|This is an optional item on our programs. However, a good pair of trekking poles is a worthy piece of gear to have with you for long approaches or treks through the mountains. There are many added benefits to trekking poles. The new BD Distance series poles are light, collapsible, and adjustable.|
|Accessory cord or cordelette material is essential equipment that offer great versatility in use and application. Consider getting a few for your climbing rack.|
|Climbing slings or runners are an excellent compliment to your climbing gear. Versatile in their use and applicability, consider having a few of each length on your rack.|
|Avalanche Shovel||Description||Guide's Pick|
|With a redesigned blade construction for cleaner snow study and easier stomping through hard avy debris, the Transfer is our workhorse shovel with a removable, extendable shaft for working in deep pits.|
|Avalanche Probe||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Built for daily snow study, snow professionals and deeper snowpacks, the Tour Probe 320 features a durable, all-aluminum construction.|
|Sleeping Pad||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season mattress is lightweight, durable, extremely warm, and the ultimate solution to year-round backcountry comfort. Stable construction and 2.5-inch thickness offer greater comfort for a full night of sleep, so you won't feel the uneven, rough terrain beneath you.|
|Winter Sleeping Bag||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Western Mountaineering Lynx MF -10 Degree Sleeping Bag is a down sleeping bag for cold weather in the backcountry. Venture into the outdoors in the early spring, on foot or searching for the best ski spots before the snow melts and this medium sized cat will take care of the warmth. Filled with 32oz of 850+ fill power down, you're getting a 9" loft to surround your whole body with warmth as you sleep.|
|Mountain Crampons||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A classic 10-point crampon for mountaineering and glacier travel, the Contact features a durable stainless steel construction and a stable, lightweight design. Available in a Strap or Clip version.|
|The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are lightweight and aggressive to take you onward and upward through all types of terrain. The advanced 360° traction frames provide grippy traction beneath while surrounding a lightweight ballistic decking to keep you up on top instead of postholing your way through the snowfield. The frame and deck combination is super durable and ready to take on all types of snow through changing terrain.|
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.
Before Your Trip
The Alaska Alpine program requires our participants to have previous, but not extensive technical climbing experience. At a minimum, participants should have climbed in a gym or a crag and be familiar with belying with an ATC.
Please get in touch with our office if you have any questions about your fitness or technical requirements for this trip.
For the Little Swiss Alpine Progra you should be ready for:
- Climbing technical rock in the 5.8 YDS
- 12 hour summit days on the longer objectives
- Fickle weather, cold and warm temperatures, delays, and other factors beyond our control
Follow Up Climbs
- Ruth Gorge Customs
- Backcountry Ice Seminar
- Long’s Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park
Anchorage & 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!
The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Anchorage, Alaska. We will pick you up at the airport in a private rental car. We will pick you up at the airport or at your hotel and will provide transportation for the remainder of the trip.
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! We will pick you up at the airport or at your hotel and will provide transportation for the remainder of the trip.
- Seattle, WA to Anchorage, AK: 34 hours driving
- Ouray, CO to Anchorage, AK: 48 hours driving
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 Hideaway.
Registration & Cancellation
Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.
- Guiding and trip leadership with an AMGA Trained Guide
- Round trip transportation from Anchorage to Talkeetna
- 1 night of lodging in Talkeetna
- All mountain food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the glacier)
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing and technical equipment (ropes, etc.)
- Transportation to Anchorage, AK
- Hotel costs before, during, or after the program
- Guide gratuity
- Lunch food or snacks
- Personal hiking/climbing clothing
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
- Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides
Book This Trip!
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