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Denali Prep Course

Intro to Winter Mountaineering
November 1, 2016
Private Winter Alpine Guiding
November 2, 2016

Train For Success on Alaska’s Denali

Our 5 Day Denali/Alaska Expedition Preparatory Course is best suited for those who have already completed a basic or introductory mountaineering course, either with us here in the San Juans, or in other major mountain ranges in the lower 48 such as the Cascades or Sierras. This course has been specifically designed for those who are planning expedition style ascents in Alaska (Denali), South America (Aconcagua), or the Himalayas.

The course takes place on Mt. Sneffels which is easily visible on the drive from Montrose to Ouray and just west of Ouray near the Dallas Divide. On this program, we will attempt to climb either the Lavender Col Route or the SW Ridge, depending upon current snow conditions and group skills.  The instruction will focus on topics that apply to mountaineering and expedition climbing on big, cold mountains. Emphasis will be placed on the acquisition and refinement of the skills listed below, as well as the proper selection and use of your personal climbing gear and clothing.  We understand it is critically important that you feel confident in your gear choices when you fly onto the glacier in Alaska.  You can’t bring it all with you!!

The Course Progression

Success on climbs in Alaska requires many elements – including a solid foundation of mountaineering skills and an experiential background that allows you to develop the right mental attitude for the rigors of a 3 week expedition.  We have developed this program with that end in mind, and the exceptional terrain, climate, and altitude of the San Juan’s provide the ideal setting in which to thoroughly prepare yourself both mentally and physically.

rexerExpedition Camp Building and Maintenance
rexerGear Selection for Alaska Expeditions
rexerExpedition Style Ascents
rexerAscending & Descending Fixed Ropes
rexerAnchor Construction in Alpine Terrain
rexerSnow Climbing Technique
rexerTerrain Selection and Navigation
rexerCrevasse Rescue Practice

2019 Dates

April 2 – 7

April 9 – 14

April 23 – 28

Costs

$1699 per person

rexerNo Hidden Fees

Includes:
  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Breakfasts & Dinners on the mountain
  • All alpine climbing gear (harness, helmet, boots, crampons etc.),
  • Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
  • Round-trip transportation to and from trailhead and our office


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Intro to Mountaineering Course Itinerary

Day 0

Arrive in Ouray the day before the trip begins and check in to your hotel.  Ideally you would want to arrive in the late morning or early afternoon to help aid in your adjustment to the altitude.

Day 1

Today is spent with a short (1 – 2 hour) classroom session focusing on the overview of the program and gear selection for the trip. Participants will then spend the rest of the day covering essential technical skills, such as fixed line travel – an important consideration for climbing Denali.  Stay in a hotel.

Day 2

The team will begin the climb towards Yankee Boy Basin today, via Camp Bird Mine Road. This is an excellent day to put some miles on the snowshoes, and very closely approximates the first day on Denali (from bascamp to 7800′). This day will also focus on the concepts of team roped travel, sled use, and preliminarly field investigation into avalanche conditions and how to properly assess risk as it relates to the terrain. Camp out.

Day 3

Today the team will move to our Advanced Base Camp in Yankee Boy Basin and establish another winter/snow camp – an important skill to have mastered prior to your climb of Denali. We will also cover additional technical skills on this day including snow anchors, hauling systems, and a thorough review of team roped travel. Camp out.

Day 4

Summit day on Mt. Sneffels. Depending upon the route choice (Lavender Col vs. SW Ridge) the team will attempt to climb this highly sought after Colorado 14’er. What better preparation for your climb of Denali than a tall, cold peak like Mt. Sneffels in the winter/spring.  Camp out.

Day 5

The group will pack up their gear and head back down towards the awaiting shuttle vehicle and then on to Ouray for a celebratory dinner!  Stay in a hotel or depart.

Itinerary Note

Please note that this is an approximate itinerary and may be changed in order to suit the needs of the group and the current conditions in the mountains to maximize the learning opportunities for the course.

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Denali Prep Course Equipment List

Duffel BagDescriptionGuide's Pick
1 - 2 Large, durable bags for oragnizing and transporting your gear during airline travel etc.
BackpackDescriptionGuide's Pick
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.
ThermosDescriptionGuide's Pick
Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.
Water BottlesDescriptionGuide'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 InsulatorsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.
Stuff SacksDescriptionGuide'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 FoodDescriptionGuide'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.
SunglassesDescriptionGuide's Pick
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.
SunscreenDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 BalmDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.
HeadlampDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 KitDescriptionGuide'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 KnifeDescriptionGuide'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 CameraDescriptionGuide'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 WarmersDescriptionGuide'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 GogglesDescriptionGuide'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.
SocksDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 TopDescriptionGuide'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 BottomDescriptionGuide'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 TopDescriptionGuide's Pick
One of the best mid-weight layers we've ever worn. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody combines all the best features of a mid-layer into one supremely well-fitting piece of technical hybrid inner/outwear. The layer does so many things so well it's one of the few pieces we wear throughout the year.
Soft Shell JacketDescriptionGuide'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 PantsDescriptionGuide'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 ParkaDescriptionGuide'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 VestDescriptionGuide'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 JacketDescriptionGuide'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 PantsDescriptionGuide'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 HatDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Booster’s reversible design lets you choose. The soft yarn blend will provide a cozy sanctuary throughout winter’s chill.
Baseball CapDescriptionGuide'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 GlovesDescriptionGuide'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 GlovesDescriptionGuide'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 GlovesDescriptionGuide'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.
Balaclava or BuffDescriptionGuide'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!
Mountaineering AxeDescriptionGuide'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 DeviceDescriptionGuide'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.
HarnessDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 CarabinersDescriptionGuide'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 HelmetDescriptionGuide's Pick
A versatile, hybrid-shell helmet for lightweight protection in any discipline, the Vector features excellent ventilation and a ratcheting adjuster.
Non Locking CarabinersDescriptionGuide'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 BootsDescriptionGuide'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 PolesDescriptionGuide'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.
CordelletesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Accessory cord or cordelette material is essential equipment that offer great versatility in use and application. Consider getting a few for your climbing rack.
SlingsDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 ShovelDescriptionGuide'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 ProbeDescriptionGuide's Pick
Built for daily snow study, snow professionals and deeper snowpacks, the Tour Probe 320 features a durable, all-aluminum construction.
Sleeping PadDescriptionGuide'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 BagDescriptionGuide'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 CramponsDescriptionGuide'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.
SnowshoesDescriptionGuide's Pick
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

Previous completion of our Introduction to Mountaineering course (or similar) is preferred for participants who would like to take the Denali Prep Course.  Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skillsFocus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climbThe best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.

For the Denali Prep Course you should be ready for:

  • Climbing and snow/winter travel on snowshoes with a 50-60 lb load
  • An 8 – 10 hour summit day with a lighter pack
  • Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility

Follow Up Climbs

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Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here

Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.

plane-icon The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO, however, many airlines now offer direct flights into Montrose – especially during the summer and winter months.

It is also possible to fly into Grand Junction, Durango, Telluride, or Denver CO. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of these airports.

suv-icon Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Montrose, CO: 45 minutes
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 5.5 hours

 

hotel-icon-2 Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!


ouray-colorado

Program Policies

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.

Inclusions

  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Breakfasts & Dinners on the mountain
  • All alpine climbing gear (harness, helmet, boots, crampons etc.),
  • Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
  • Round-trip transportation to and from trailhead and our office

Exclusions

  • Transportation to Ouray, CO
  • 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

winter-16

Book This Trip!

We Offer Online Registration

  1. Click on Book This Trip
  2. Select your Program dates
  3. Enter your Info and Payment

 

Or, call 800.642.5389 to register