Alaska Ski Mountaineering - Lake Clark National Park:
In the last few years, backcountry skiing has surged in popularity throughout the US. With rising lift ticket prices across the country’s ski resorts, and the wider availability of affordable and technologically advanced backcountry gear – telemark, randonee (aka alpine touring), and split snowboards – riders of all skills and abilities are heading into the backcountry to "earn their turns!" Unfortunately, the US has also experienced a sharp rise in backcountry injuries and fatalities, due in large part to avalanches.
Recognizing the need for a comprehensive ski-mountaineering educational program and building on our awarding winning itinerary, Powder, Steeps, & Glaciers, we are returning into Lake Clark National Park’s stunning and remote Neacola Mountains in 2013, where we’ll enjoy 10-full days of Alaska ski-mountaineering lessons with an American Mountain Guides Association certified guide – all while savoring the remote solitude and sumptuous cuisine which are the signatures of any Alaska Alpine Adventure.
Remote, stunning, diverse, and magical, are just a few adjectives that we've come up with to describe the Neacola Mountains. Located approximately 120 air-miles west/southwest of Anchorage, the Neacola Mountains comprise the southernmost portion of the massive Alaska Range. They have been best described as a heavily glaciated version of Washington’s North Cascades. At roughly 150 square miles in size, this small portion of Lake Clark National Park offers some of the finest ski touring and ski mountaineering potential in the entire state of Alaska. What’s even more enticing is the fact that the Neacolas have seen very little in the way of skiing or climbing activity. Given the latitude, these relatively low elevation mountains provide excellent skiing with great snow quality on a variety of terrain within easy touring of our base camps. Another great thing about the lower elevations is that it much easier to reach the top of the peaks and passes without contending with altitude issues! This means great skiing within your grasp. Furthermore, there isn't a heli ski operation within many miles so it is just you and your guides and the spectacular skiing terrain of this pristine winter environment. Except for an occasional reference on the USGS topographic maps, most of the peaks and glaciers in the Neacola Mountains remain not only unskied but also unclimbed and unnamed.
A small airplane equipped with skis will get us onto a glacier in the heart of the range. We’ll spend the first 6-days out on the glacier operating out of a spacious basecamp. During this time you’ll not only learn the skills of winter camping, avalanche and crevasse rescue, efficient glacier travel and route finding techniques, but also the subtle art of ski touring including skinning, kick-turning, transition efficiencies, and pacing.
During the final few days of the trip, you’ll tour through some of the most spectacular and remote terrain in Alaska. This 4-day ski tour will allow you to hone the skills you’ve developed over the last week and introduce you to Alaska expedition travel. Our route will take us over glacier passes and we’ll move daily from camp to camp, eventually looping back to our basecamp from the previous week. The skiing in the Neacolas is as diverse as the Alaskan weather, and the conditions often vary with the hour. Our day to day itinerary will be based on that diversity, but the satisfaction of thriving in such a remote and mountainous environment will overwhelm you. You're idea of backcountry skiing will forever be altered. Click Here more images from the trip!
Below you will find all available instances of this trip. Roll over departure dates to see a complete list of departures. Roll over the demographic icons to get a brief overview of the demographic group.
This trip originates in Anchorage, Alaska. Getting to Anchorage is a snap. Alaska Airlines, your travel agent, or the carrier of your choice can easily arrange roundtrip airfare from the lower 48. Once you land in Anchorage, your adventure really begins. For this trip into Lake Clark National Park, you'll find that the areas we visit won't be found on any road map; out here there aren't any roads!
Bush Flights: Access to Lake Clark National Park and the Neacola Mountains is limited to air travel in a small airplane flown by an experienced bush pilot. This adventure includes ski-plane flights between Kenai, Alaska and the Lake Clark wilderness. Have your camera at the ready, your trip begins here. For most, this will be your first experience in a small aircraft – a memorable one to be sure. The 60 minute flight from Kenai to the Lake Clark Wilderness takes you over some of the most remote and beautiful country in Alaska, with towering peaks and tumbling glaciers right off the wing tips. Our pilot has spent years flying in this area and you’ll immediately understand why we choose to fly with him.
Accommodations: Lodging on night one is included in your package. We use a couple of the best properties in Anchorage, and they are comfortable and conveniently located downtown. Prices are double occupancy. If you prefer your own room on night one you will be asked to pay a single supplement of $105.00. The remaining nights will be spent camping in the wilderness!
The Experience: After checking into our accommodations in Anchorage, you’ll meet our guides by early evening before an orientation dinner one of our favorite restaurants in Anchorage. After dinner, we’ll pour over maps and discuss the route.
Up early on day 2, we’ll have breakfast before beginning the 3-hour drive to Kenai. Our route will take us down the scenic Seward Highway, and through the Chugach and Kenai mountain ranges. We’ll arrive in Kenai by 10am, and weather permitting will board our airplane and begin shuttling ourselves and our gear into the Neacola Mountains. Our first day will allow us to collect our senses, gaze at the surrounding beauty, and get a feel for the terrain we will be covering. You will quickly become acquainted with our style of wilderness travel and camp etiquette. Meals are planned to be sumptuous, filling culinary adventures of their own. Because weight and packaging is critical, careful consideration is taken in planning and packing the ingredients. You can be assured every meal will be something you may never have experienced in the wilderness. We use organic and real food products when possible and the very best freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients available.
All group camping & climbing gear (tents, stoves, fuel, ropes, etc.), satellite phone and safety equipment.
Van transportation from Anchorage to our air taxi in Kenai.
All internal airfare and glacier flights necessary for the trip.
One night of lodging in Anchorage.
Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio.
All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary.
Storage for your extra travel items while in the field.
Lodging in Anchorage prior to and after your adventure.
Personal gear (sleeping bags, packs, rain gear, etc.) - See Equipment Lists.
Trip cancellation insurance.
Additional room nights due to weather delays
A deposit of $1000.00 per person is required to reserve a trip with Alaska Alpine Adventures. The remaining balance is due 60 days prior to the start of the trip. Reservations made within 60 days of the trip starting date require payment in full.
If the participant cancels a reservation earlier than 60 days prior to the starting date, the deposit will be refunded, minus a $500.00 administration fee. If the participant cancels within 59-31 days of the starting date, 50% of the trip balance will be refunded. If cancellation is made within 30-0 days of the trip starting date, there will be no refund of any costs. Alaska Alpine Adventures recommends cancellation insurance available through Travel Guard. Please call or email us for details.
What kind of food might we expect?
Our food is excellent – in fact it is something that clearly differentiates us from our competitors. We have spent the past decade fine tuning our backcountry menu. Breakfasts include pancakes, scrambles, various homemade granolas and cereals, French pressed coffee, assorted teas and hot drinks. For lunch we enjoy foccacia sandwiches, bagels and Alaska lox, hummus and toasted pita chips, and assorted wraps. We also have homemade snack mixes both salty and sweet and energy and candy bars available throughout the day. Dinners could include lasagna, pad thai, beef mole’ tacos, penne pasta with a roasted red pepper pesto, wild mushroom risotto, etc. And we ALWAYS enjoy one of Derek’s home baked desserts after dinner.
When would you require a deposit? and how much? Trip cancellation insurance? Can we get it through you?
We require a deposit of $1000 per person to officially reserve a trip. Really the deposit is due as soon as you’d like to book. That way, we have the trip inked in on the schedule and can begin the effort to coax others into joining the adventure. When you decide to book, we then generate an invoice that we send by email. You’ll then have the option to pay the deposit by mailing us a check, calling us with a credit card number or by using a Visa, Master Card, or American Express on our secure online payment system. As for trip cancellation insurance, Alaska Alpine Adventures is licensed to sell Travel Guard - an industry leading insurance product designed specifically for adventure travelers. Please contact us for details - or click here to obtain a quote
Lake Clark National Park and the Neacola Mountains:
Why are so many of your trips in Lake Clark National Park?
Simply because we believe Lake Clark National Park to be the most spectacular and diverse park in Alaska. At over 4-million acres, this wilderness park has something for everyone - miles of coastline, active volcanoes, spectacular lakes, glaciers and icefields, wild and scenic rivers, stunning mountains, and very few visitors. If you seek solitude and the perfect Alaskan landscape, Lake Clark will not disappoint.
Why go to the Neacola Mountains?
Remote, stunning, diverse, and magical, are just a few adjectives that we've come up with to describe the Neacola Mountains. Located approximately 120 air-miles west/southwest of Anchorage, the Neacola Mountains comprise the southernmost portion of the massive Alaska Range. They have been best described as a heavily glaciated version of Washington’s North Cascades. At roughly 150 square miles in size, this small portion of Lake Clark National Park offers some of the finest ski touring and ski mountaineering potential in the entire state of Alaska. What’s even more enticing is the fact that the Neacolas have seen very little in the way of skiing or climbing activity. Given the latitude, these relatively low elevation mountains provide excellent skiing and climbing with great snow quality on a variety of terrain within easy access of our base camps. Another great thing about the lower elevations is that it much easier to reach the top of the peaks and passes without contending with altitude issues!
Where is Lake Clark?
Lake Clark and its surrounding 4 million-acre national park is located approximately 150 miles West-Southwest of Anchorage.
How do you get to Lake Clark and the Neacola Mountains?
Access to Lake Clark National Park is solely by small aircraft or, in some instances, by boat. For glacier landings, we'll use small aircraft equipped with wheel skis.
Is transportation to Lake Clark included in the price of the trip?
Absolutely, our trips are all inclusive from Anchorage. All you need to do is get yourself to our hotel in Anchorage on Day 1 of your itinerary.
Where will you meet us?
Your Alaska Alpine Adventures guide will meet you at 6 PM at the hotel on the evening of night 1 for an orientation dinner and gear check.
Who will I be flying with and what time will we be departing on day one?
Your guides will meet you at the hotel at 8AM. You'll drive with your guides in a comfortable 15 passenger van to Kenai, Alaska, a drive that takes around 3 hours. From there, we'll be flying with Alaska West Air Taxi into the Neacola Mountains. Doug Brewer, the owner and operator of Alaska West, has been flying into the range longer than anyone, and you'll immediately realize why we chose to fly with him. He's simply the best in the business.
Day 1: Today you are free to arrive in Anchorage on your own. We use a few of the best properties in town, which are located close to the airport and adjacent to downtown Anchorage. After checking into the hotel, you’ll meet our guides by early afternoon. Tonight we’ll do an orientation dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, and upon returning to our hotel, we’ll pour over maps and discuss the trip and the route.
Day 2: Today, we’ll get an early start and begin the 3-hour drive to Kenai. Our route will take us down the scenic Seward Highway, and through the Chugach and Kenai mountain ranges. We’ll arrive in Kenai by 10am, and weather permitting will board our airplane and begin shuttling ourselves and our gear into the Neacolas. Our pilot has spent years flying in this area and you’ll immediately understand why we choose to fly with him. The flight will take about an hour and will take you over some of the most remote and beautiful country in Alaska. After our flight, we’ll begin the task of digging in to the glacier and positioning our basecamp. By late afternoon, we’ll rope up for a quick tour of the glacier and by early evening we’ll be back at camp enjoying our first of many fantastic meals.
Clinic: RESCUE Day 2: Beacon Rescue, companion beacon rescue, crevasse rescue, packing for a tour.
Days 3-7: We’ll spend these days touring from our basecamp and exploring the surrounding peaks and glaciers. As we get used to our equipment and the nuance of traveling on glaciers, we’ll spend the first couple of days assessing the snow pack on differing aspects and skiing mellower terrain. As our confidence (as well as the weather and the snow stability) allows, we’ll slowly begin to venture into steeper country. The Neacolas offer suitable skiing terrain for all ability levels and we’ll travel in groups of three or four skiers per guide in order to accommodate people’s various abilities and aspirations. By day 6, you’ll be putting all the skills to practice on client led tours!
Clinics: TOURING FUNDAMENTALS; TERRAIN; GLACIER TRAVEL Day 3: Safety, speed, efficiency lecture, transition efficiency, skinning, kick-turns, pacing, downhill skiing in the backcountry Day 4: Tour planning lecture, selecting a route, avalanche stability evaluation Day 5: Rope setup, navigating through crevasses, prussiking, ski anchors, belaying. Day 6: Client led tour Day 7: Client led tour
Days 8-11: After a healthy breakfast, we’ll pack up sleds and backpacks and prepare to begin our 4-day tour of the Neacola Mountains. There are countless options possible from our basecamp and we’ll likely choose to head into new country on an exploratory expedition; on a route that piques everyone’s interest and one that your guides deem to be safe and appropriate for the given snow and weather conditions. Regardless of the exact route, our objective will include an attempt of at least one significant peak in the region and crossings of at least two glacier passes. During this week, you’ll learn firsthand how to move camp in a winter and glacier environment, safe campsite selection, the art of snow shelter construction, safe route finding techniques.
Day 12: We’ll schedule a mid-morning ski plane back to civilization. We’ll make the drive from Kenai to Anchorage and plan on being back by late afternoon. If you are leaving Alaska on this day, please schedule all homebound flights from Anchorage for after 10pm.
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