Expedition to Alaska’s ice giant
The more work you do yourself on a mountain, the more satisfied you are!
It’s one of the “Seven Summits’ and one of the most beautiful mountains on earth.
Even though the technical difficulties are moderate, Denali must not be underestimated
Denali makes for great acclimatisation as we start from the very bottom.
In the past 16 years, K&P groups have reached the summit 14 times.
1 guide per 2 members guarantee best support.
Alaska offers a full and mystic experience! The name comes from the Aleut “Alyeska”, which roughly translates to “large country”. Nestled at the northern edge of the American continent, it is the largest and most western state of the 50 states. Only about 710,000 inhabitants live on an area of about 1,717,854 square kilometres, so that’s a whopping 0.4 humans per km2.
The first European to visit Alaska was probably the Russian explorer Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnev in 1648. From 1745, the Russians explored their soon-to-be colony, Russian Alaska, and searched for sea otters and their valuable furs. But because Alaska was unexplored and remote, these trips hardly ever made any profit. For this reason, Tsar Alexander II sold this colony for 7.2 million USD to the United States of America on 30 March 1867. At a price of 0.0004 cents per square kilometre, this was the cheapest land purchase ever! On 18 October 1867, Alaska became officially part of the USA. On that day, the Russian flag was taken down and the American flag was hoisted in Sitka. Today, Alaska is the 49th state of the United States of America. The southeast of Alaska is sometimes called the Alaskan panhandle, which is small strip of land along the Pacific to the west of Canada. It is home to Alaska's capital city of Juneau, which is only accessible by ship or plane. However, the largest and most famous city of Alaska is Anchorage with a population of 275,000.
Alaska has eight national parks, one of which is the 24,585-square-kilometres-large Denali National Park and Preserve. This park has a true gem as it houses Mt. McKinley, or “Denali” (the Great) as the native Americans have named it. This ice giant is not far away from the northern polar circle. Even though ‘Denali’ has become Mt. McKinley’s official name, most mountaineers still refer to it as McKinley. This giant mountain towers about 5,600m above the McKinley River which makes it one of the largest mass elevations on earth. More than 70-km-long glacier streams flow down from this mountain massif into the wide plains of Alaska.
Day 1: Flight to Anchorage
Scheduled flight to Anchorage, transfer to a good hotel in the centre Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.
Day 2: Anchorage - Talkeetna
The guides from our licensed partner agency will pick us up from the hotel. As we can only benefit from their vast experience, they do a last-minute equipment check before we embark on a three-hour bus journey to Talkeetna. After we have dropped off our luggage off at the Talkeetna airfield, we will go to the nearby ranger station for our obligatory briefing and permit check. We finish the day with a delicious dinner and enjoy a comfortable bed for the last time.
Day 3 - Day 22: Denali
We have 20 days in the Denali National Park to climb “the Great”.
We load our equipment onto the small planes before we take the 35-minute flight over the vast and impressive Arctic Tundra going past Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter all the way to the Kahiltna Glacier. Once we land on the glacier, we load our equipment on the sledges, put on our snow shoes and off we go. The first few steps of our expedition are on a slight descent to reach the massive Kahiltna Glacier which will be our home in the coming days.
The actual climb starts off leisurely on the flat toward the Kahiltna Pass, in front of which we turn right to gain steeper terrain. Soon we are faced with the first challenges of this trip, which are climbing up the so-called Motorcycle Hill and traversing to the Windy Corner.
The Medical Camp lies at an altitude of 4,400m at the foot of the West Buttress Grates. We take off our snow shoes here and start the final 1,800 metres to the summit.
Apart from a good portion of luck with the weather as well as team spirit, we need a lot of willpower and endurance to reach the top of Denali
Day 23: Kahiltna Base Camp - Talkeetna
This is our last day to leave base camp. Our airtaxi takes us back to civilisation. Shortly after our arrival at Talkeetna, we will enjoy a well-deserved beer, a good shower and a comfortable bed!
Day 24: Talkeetna - Anchorage
After a long night, we can dry our equipment and properly pack for our trip back home. We go back to Anchorage, where we will surely find the time to enjoy a “real Alaskan salmon”.
Day 25 - Day 26: Return trip from Anchorage and arrival in your home country the following day.
The Profilcheck is a fixed part of the detailed travel programme. Please read through it thoroughly and assess yourselves. Due ot the required point score for an expedition, you can unmistakably read from your self-assessment if your skills, your fitness and your mountain experience meet the requirements. With your registration you confirm to us that you are fit to go on this expedition.
Please note the following points concerning the expedition procedure:
The expedition is demanding and exhausting. The height alone does have certain risks associated with it.
The participants do not have to be super mountaineers, but they should possess solid high altitude mountaineering experience. Furthermore, the participants should be able to confidently and independently traversing combined terrain (snow, ice, rock).
Active participation on the mountain, camaraderie and tolerance are of great importance to us.
Everybody has to be able to know their personal limits on the mountain and everybody has to be ready to possibly admit defeat and retreat.
The expedition is undertaken on your own responsibility.
The leader of the expedition is responsible for the management of the entire group but not for personal support of individuals. Nonetheless, every participant has to be ready to listen to the advice and follow the decisions made by the expedition leader, these decisions are, after all, made in the interest of the entire group.
Depending on the current circumstances improvisation and changes to the programme, might become necessary.
Kobler & Partner denies any liability for accidents, damages or loss of equipment.
Organisation of the entire expedition
Pre-expedition briefing at Bächli Bergsport, including a 10% voucher for equipment purchase
Transfer from airport to hotel in Anchorage during the outward and the return journey
Transfer from Anchorage to Talkeetna and back
Flight from Talkeetna on the Kahiltna glacier and back
Full board during the ascent (from/to Kahiltna Base Camp)
1 overnight stay, including breakfast, in double rooms at a hotel in Anchorage before the expedition
1 overnight stay, including breakfast, in double rooms at a hotel in Anchorage after the expedition
1 overnight stay, including breakfast, at a simple guesthouse in Talkeetna before the climb
1 overnight stay, including breakfast, at a simple guesthouse in Talkeetna after the climb
Roomy mess tent during the expedition
1 tent per 2-3 members on the mountain
High altitude stove and cutlery
Ropes, fixed ropes, ice screws and snow stakes, snow saws
Pulkas (equipment sledges)
Radios: 1 radio (9 volts) per roped party
Satellite phone, exclusive call charges
Large medical kit with pulse oximeter
Kitchen: chef and kitchen helpers
Weather forecast from Meteotest, Bern
Kobler & Partner contributes to the tip at 100 USD per member
1 local mountain guide per 3 members
Mountain guide or aspiring mountain guide by K&P
International flights from/to Anchorage
Individual beverages during the outward- and the return journey
Park fees and summit permit
Individual expenses during the spare days
Additional expenses in Talkeetna respectively in other places in Alaska (delays due to weather can happen)
Beverages, lunches and suppers before and after the ascent (from/to Talkeetna)
Individual, performance based tips
In case no roommate for a booked double room can be found, we charge half of the single room surcharge (look at Additional Costs)
Surcharges that may arise due to changes being made to the planned travel programme.
1 guide per 3 members for the best service possible.
An expedition to Denali can only be organised by an agency authorised by the Denali National Park and Reserve. In order to ensure a smooth summit attempt, we work together with one of the most experienced agencies.
Due to a special agreement and thanks to many years of working together, we get an exclusive slot. This means that our group only consists of Kobler & Partner members.
The expedition management is in the hands of our American partner. Kobler & Partner’s mountain guide works together closely with the American expedition management and thus can let his experience influence the decisions.
During an expedition to Denali, expedition members are required to actively participate. Despite the hard work of the mountain guides, everybody’s help counts when establishing camps, cooking etc.
In order to climb Denali, we need a permit which has to be acquired online and paid for by credit card prior to the expedition. In 2020, the fee amounted to about 375 USD. On top of this fee, each member has to pay a one-time park entrance fee of 15 USD. Both fees are charged by the park administration. Kobler & Partner will supply all the necessary information in due course.
During expeditions in the US, it is common for members to tip personally. Just like in Europe, the tip depends on the performance of the team and thus it is impossible to calculate the exact amount. In the past few years, the tips hovered at around 500 to 600 USD per person.
The National Geographic Adventure magazine awarded our US partner one of the best agencies for adventure travels world-wide.
The climate in central Alaska is continental while the north is sub-polar. Winters are long, dark and very cold. During the short summers, however, temperatures can soar. At the northern coast, summer temperatures rise above 0°C. Even on the tops of the mountains north of the Rocky Mountains (up to 3,000m), a large part of the snow melts during the summer. Except for the summer months, precipitation is rather low (100-300 mm), with most of it being snow. In Alaska’s south, many glaciers reach the ocean even during summer. The Alaska Range is famous for its volatile weather, and thus we have to expect to be stuck on the mountain during an extended bad weather period. May and June are considered the mildest months of the year.
Maps and Literature
Map by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research Mount McKinley, 1:50000 is the best map on the market and is available here: Pit Buch & Berg zu beziehen.
The expedition price includes international flights. Scheduled flights from Switzerland usually depart in the morning, however, the airlines’ flight times are subject to change. We are also happy to check other points of departure for you.
If your point of departure results in additional charge we will inform you in due time. For train times to Swiss airports, please check the timetable of the Swiss Railways. SBB Fahrplan
Members from Switzerland or the EU require a machine-readable passport to travel to the USA. Please note that your passport expiration date is at least six months after your final day of travel. Additionally, every member has to apply for the US travel authorisation ESTA: ESTA Webseite.. We are happy to help you with that and make sure that the corresponding information is sent to you in due time.
Equipment List Expedition Denali
2 duffel bags 110 l (waterproof duffel bags, available at a discount price for customers at K&P)
Down jacket, expedition jacket
Down jacket, thin
Fleece sweater or fleece jacket with hood, warm
Fleece sweater or fleece jacket with hood, thin
Trekking trousers, light and long
Mountain trousers for high altitude tours, soft-shell
Underwear / T-Shirts
T-shirts, long sleeves
Underwear: short pants (underpants), sports bra, long pants (underpants) thin
Thermal- respectively functional shirt, warm, long sleeves
Thermal- respectively functional trousers, warm, long
Full-fingered gloves, thin: fleece, Powerstretch or Windstopper
Full-fingered gloves, mid weight: soft-shell, Windstopper or leather
Full-fingered gloves, Gore-Tex, with liner gloves that can be taken out
Comfortable shoes (walking shoes)
Expedition boots, 800er model
Mountain socks, 2 pairs, thick and warm
Possibly heated socks
Down shoes for inside the sleeping bag
Sleeping bag, down (-40°C)
1 iso-mat, respectively Thermarest Z-Lite, not inflatable, closed
1 iso-mat, respectively Thermarest Neo Air, inflatable, including a repair kit
Head-, Face- and Eye-Protection
Glacier sunglasses (with nose-protection if possible)
Ski goggles, 100% UV protection (also protects from wind)
Baseball cap or sun hat
Balaclava or face-mask (Windstopper or Neoprene)
Sunscreen, protection factor 50
Lip-protection, protection factor 50
Backpack approximately 90-100 l
Rain cover for the backpack
Pickaxe, straight shaft (length: from the hand until the ankle)
Crampons with anti-balling plates (customised to fit expedition boots, no light crampons!)
Snow shoes (can be rented on site)
Climbing harness, light (expedition climbing harness)
4 carabiners (snapping carabiners)
3 HMS carabiners (locking carabiners)
Descender (8er recommended)
3 accessory chords (diameter: 6 mm): 5 m / 3 m / 2 m
2 slings (60 cm)
1 ice screw (19 cm)
Compression bags for down equipment
Food utensils, light for high camps (bowl / cup isolated, including cutlery)
Drinking bottle with large opening (Nalgene)
Water bottle parka for the drinking bottle
Pee bottle / plastic bags / pee funnel / Go Girl
Headlamp (including replacement batteries), plus a small spare headlamp
Pocket knife or multitool
Lighter with flint stone
Thermal pads for hands and feet
Departure letter by Kobler & Partner (contains the finalised information)
Cash for personal use and tips
Credit card (MasterCard or Visa)
Passport and the copy of the passport
2 passport photographs
Small travelling pharmacy (personal medication / Compeed)
Toilet case, washbag: tooth brush / tooth paste
Towel (microfibre cloth)
Hand-disinfectant gel (50 ml)
Pocket knife, wet wipes
Expedition pharmacy for the Base Camp and the High Camps, radios, GPS, travelling literature and maps are carried by your K&P mountain guide.
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