Denali Prep Course

Denali Prep Baker Backcountry Richard Riquelme
Near mooses Tooth summit AAI
Denali Prep Mt Baker Richard Riquelme

Learn all the skills of snow and ice climbing used in modern alpine mountaineering and get a great introduction to expedition climbing, while ascending several beautiful peaks in either the heart of the Alaska or Cascade Ranges

Learn all the skills of snow and ice climbing used in modern alpine mountaineering and get a great introduction to expedition climbing, while ascending several beautiful peaks in either the heart of the Alaska or Cascade Ranges

This is a scenic, action packed six or ten-day program that provides complete training in all the skills of snow and ice climbing used in alpine and expedition mountaineering.

While developing a solid and complete set of alpine climbing skills, you will also learn glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques, gain experience with expedition procedures, and apply methods for route finding and hazard assessment.

Using skis or snowshoes for ease of movement on the glacier, and anyone with basic ski skills will feel at home on this easy terrain. At the end of the program, you should be technically qualified to make intermediate level ascents in any of the world’s glaciated ranges and to join us on a Denali expedition.

This course is operated in North America as part of the Adventure Consultants/American Alpine Institute alliance.

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Climbing Ability

Climbing Ability







6 or 10 days



Alaska or Washington


Gear check and briefing

Camp-fortifying techniques and building snow and/or block walls. On all Denali expeditions we use a group cook tent, which must be dug into the snow and set up at each camp as we work our way up the mountain. Being able to efficiently and effectively dig-in and reinforce camps on Denali is extremely important to the group's safety and success, and no detail is spared in covering these methods. Group camping and cooking etiquette are put into practice and camp duties will be assigned on a rotational basis
Snow skills and ice axe and crampon use. The snow conditions will dictate a lot of what is possible with regard to snow skills. The potentially deep and soft snow conditions can make skill practice difficult, as climbers tend to wade rather than climb in these conditions. If self-arrest and cramponing practice is not possible, we will cover more in-depth avalanche assessment scenarios
Crevasse rescue and group rescue scenarios. Crevasse rescue methods on Denali are often quite different than those on other mountains because of the unique nature and size of the rope teams and because of the heavy backpacks and sleds each member has in tow. We will practice scenarios for individual and group rescue as they relate to crevasse falls. We will plan on moving camp at least three times on this trip both to gain experience with establishing camp in different locations

Fixed line and running belay practice. Moving efficiently through the portion of the West Buttress route protected by fixed lines and fixed protection is very important to maintaining the set schedule and maximize summit days on the upper mountain. We will spend the majority of this day practicing passing pickets and running protection, and ascending fixed lines as a rope team


The conditions on Mount Baker in the winter can vary from hard, wind-blown ice to deep snow. The final day of the course can be used to review skills, practice skills that were delayed due to weather, or answer questions. We will then descend, pack up camp, and head back to the trailhead. Please note, this course is focused on preparing for Denali. This is not a summit oriented course and no summit will be made


This itinerary can and will change from trip to trip. Climbing days and rest days are often dictated by weather and conditions. This itinerary is rough and should be used for general reference only

Denali Prep Course Map showing Mt Baker, Washington

Departures and Pricing

Note: Dates are subject to change due to many factors out of our control
Start/End Pricing Book
Jan - Mar 2025 $2,195 USD $

Prefer a different departure location? Check out the Chamonix Expedition Course



There is no substitute for pack training in the months leading up to a Denali expedition. Participants intending to go to Denali shortly after this course should be on the high end of the fitness and stamina scale. The trip involves heavy pack carrying, sled hauling, digging snow for tent platforms (etc) so you can have an understanding of the challenges on Denali.

Technical Experience

Participants on the Denali Prep Course will be introduced to skills required for the Denali ascent, but do come with some prior rope skills through rock climbing practice. Glacier travel experience is advisable as well as solid basic ice axe and cramponing skills. Winter camping background would be an advantage too.

Altitude Experience

As Denali is a very high mountain you will be faced with the challenges of altitude, so prior knowledge of how you perform will be an advantage through prior climbs to high altitude such as Aconcagua, Mera Peak or Island Peak.

Denali summit 2 Roy Wells

In 2006, Adventure Consultants in Wanaka, New Zealand, and the American Alpine Institute in Bellingham, Washington, USA, formed a global alliance. Owners Dunham Gooding (AAI) and Guy Cotter (AC) aimed to strengthen both organizations by collaborating over three decades. This alliance enhances the comprehensive range of instructional programs, guided ascents, and expeditions offered worldwide. Climbers benefit from a wide array of opportunities on every continent, with the assurance of dealing with a trusted organization, regardless of where and when they choose to climb. Whether you contact AC or AAI, both organizations work closely to provide seamless support, ensuring a smooth experience from your first inquiry to the successful achievement of your climbing goals. Join our three-way alliance: AAI, AC, and you, and let's head to the mountains!

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Course Objectives
  • Learn Denali specific skills on an expedition style course
  • Build a strong foundation of snow and ice climbing skills
  • Practice sled rigging, fixed line use and cold weather camping techniques
  • Review glacial travel, rope team travel and crevasse rescue techniques
Sled SL

The skills you acquire on this Denali Prep Course will set you up for an attempt on Denali.

Mt Mc Kinley Denali 2005 Guy Cotter 31

It is fulfilling to find out on this course whether you are ready for the challenge of Denali.

Denali Roy Wells Big Packs

Pack fitness is one of the biggest assets you should take to this course.

Posh SL

"It was an absolute privilege to have the calibre of instructor that I was provided with. I learned so much in a short period of time and appreciated the level of patience and diligence he applied to safety and building my confidence"

Jane Weatherley, Australia
Motorcycle Hill Denali Matthew Anderson

"You have a thorough operation, and that makes it easy for clients to focus on climbing"

Jermaine Middleton, USA
Mt Mc Kinley Denali 2005 Guy Cotter 32

"I often say to friends, that if you have a challenging or remote destination in mind, Adventure Consultants will take you there. AC opens doors to experiences and places that would otherwise be closed"

Graham Ehm, Australia
Climbers on the lower reaches of Denali in Alaska

The Denali Prep Course is the perfect preparation for climbing Denali or Vinson.

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