This is a three-session training course designed to prepare participants to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska.
The Denali Prep course is designed for those who want to develop winter mountaineering skills in extreme conditions and learn what it takes to climb Denali.
Scaling Denali requires a high level of competency in glacier travel, safety in a mountain environment, expedition camping skills, and the ability to manage one's emotions in a physically demanding environment while contributing to the expedition as a positive team member.
This is an eight-day, three-session training course designed to prepare participants to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska by the West Buttress route as independent climbers. Following completion of all three training sessions, there is an opportunity to join a fundraising climb of Denali with fellow participants and guides. The course is packed with information and hands-on learning of fundamental skills including crevasse rescue and self-arrests with packs and sleds.
The first session is a 2-day classroom course. The material learned during this two-day course will prepare you for the next six days of training. This is taught in person, but there is an option to take the course online. The next session is a 3-day course in the mountains during which time the information learned in the first session will be applied. The final session is a 3-day course where participants lead an Alaskan-style climb of a challenging peak in the North Cascades such as Mt. Shuksan or Mt. Baker, under the supervision of instructors.
The sessions can be tailored for beginner and intermediate mountaineers. Previous glacier travel and glacier camping experience is beneficial but not required. Participants must be physically fit for extended alpine activity, including carrying a 60-lb pack and pulling a sled. Some activities will be extremely rigorous. Adequate training, fitness, and gear will make the trip more enjoyable and allow you to focus on the many skills covered.
We have two options for dividing up the trip:
1. Break down the trip in multiple sessions over consecutive weekends: 2 day Classroom weekend + 3 day weekend + 3 day weekend. This will work well for Seattle/Portland area people who may not want use their vacation days.
2. Combine all three sessions in one 9-day period: 2 day Classroom + 3 day mountain + day off + 3 day mountain. This will work well for people flying in.
Duration8 Days (3 sessions)
PassportNot required for Americans
Minimum Age18 years old
ActivityTrekking, Mountaineering, and more.
AccommodationThe Mountain side, and the beautiful night sky.
- Course instruction with experienced guides
- Stoves/Cooking kits
- Group climbing equipment
- Park fees
- Any hotel stays or in town expenses
- Transportation (We will help arrange carpools or transportation can be provided for extra fees)
- Gratuities for Guides
- Travel insurance
Session 1: Logistics and Skills (2-days)
This session is information rich. We use an indoor and outdoor classroom to learn information and practice techniques in a controlled setting. It is possible that this session will be a distance learning session. We find classroom/technology learning makes the learning process much easier than learning on the side of a mountain. Information may also be accessed at a later date and reviewed. The information from this session is then applied in a mountain environment during session 2.
Run-through of experience of participants in cold weather mountain environments
Overview of West Buttress Route
Pass-out and go over the Denali packing list (provided to participants before the course)
Reserving your climbing permit
Choosing a flight service to Kahiltna
Detailed day-by-day of the route
How to do food shopping Food Packing
Boot fitting, socks, & lacing
Crampon fitting with overboots (large sizing bars)
Skis vs. snowshoes
Backpack and sled rigging (reinforcing haul loops)
Prussic cutting and tying for rescue and travel systems
Packing an expedition backpack
Packing an expedition sled
Rope management and storage to prevent freezing
Attaching to the rope/prussic systems
Rope-team travel in a glacial environment (emotional and physical challenges)
Attaching to fixed-lines
Clipping-past an anchor
High altitude concerns
High altitude eating and hydration
Session 2: Application of Knowledge (3 days)
During this session we practice the skills we learned in session 1 on a glaciated peak. We also add movement skills, self-care, and crevasse rescue. The focus of this session is not to summit a peak, but rather to build a skill-set that will allow us to climb Denali.
Review/practice packing backpacks and sleds
Uphill walking techniques (with a weighted sled)
Downhill walking techniques (with a weighted sled)
Lower glacier navigation and travel
Belaying and probing for a good campsite
Work hardening snow for camping
Tent set-up and anchoring Cooking shelter area construction
Pee-hole area construction
Cooking and snow melting
Weather reports and forecasting
Snow anchors specific to Alaska powder
Clipping past running protection
Attaching the rope to anchors
Self rescue with a pack and sled (in actual crevasse)
Probing a campsite/food cache
Camp selection and set-up
Cooking and snow melting
Keeping hands and feet warm
Session 3: Leadership & Assessment (3 days)
This session will be a student-led “mini expedition” of a glaciated peak in the Pacific Northwest which will be climbed using the same equipment and techniques we will use on Denali. Students will plan, organize, and lead the trip. The intention is for all participants to summit the peak safely. Guides will come as participants in order to offer advice and coaching to participant leaders. Realistic scenarios will be used to test students’ knowledge and abilities during the climb.
Travel to mountain destination
Stop for lunch if needed
Pack backpacks and sleds
Rope-up for glacier travel
Progress toward Camp I
White-out navigation scenario
Camp set-up: kitchen, tents, “toilet crevasse”
Load packs & sleds
Progress toward Camp II
May include use of fixed-lines depending upon route chosen
High winds scenario
Camp set-up with wind walls and reinforced kitchen
May include use of fixed-lines depending upon route chosen
Progress down toward base camp
Glen YoungGlen has been guiding glaciated peaks for over twelve years. Glen’s career as an alpine guide began in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. This protected area includes the largest glaciers and icefalls outside of Antarctica, as well as fourteen of the highest peaks in the United States. While attending graduate school in New Zealand, Glen worked for the New Zealand Alpine Club where he led alpine training courses and guided peak ascents. Since then Glen has had the opportunity to guide throughout the United States, South America, and Nepal. He has guided thirteen peaks over 20,000 ft., including Denali. Glen was the Kahiltna Base Camp Manager on Denali for Sheldon Air during the 2014 season.
I've known the owner of Miyar Adventures for a few years and he's one of the best climbers I know. He's helped with other climbs I've been a part of even before forming the company and definitely knows his stuff. He also works hard (really hard) to keep costs down compared to other larger companies. I took the Denali Prep course in Summer 2015. Our Denali guide presented how to rig a sled and we did real crevasse rescue in a real crevasse. I had had some training in related areas, but I still learned a ton every minute from our guide, Glen. The course is still ongoing and I'm looking forward to the student-led climb! Can't wait to try Denali and a winter ascent of Rainier! I have friends that did Kilimanjaro and the accompanying Safari. While I didn't go, everyone said it was great and well organized.
Loved the Denali Prep Course offered through Miyar, and the awesome guides that we had: Glen Young and Ben Roberts. The guides were extremely knowledgeable, experienced and helpful. They made sure that every one of us received individual attention and got the chance to learn everything that we were supposed to learn. They answered all our questions, gave very useful advice on various things, and had a great attitude/were very patient, both with us and the weather :). I had a great experience with them! And most importantly, I felt very safe climbing with them. The crevasse rescue practice was done very safely with plenty of anchors, and during the summit push, the guides were skilled enough to make the call to turn back due to the conditions being bad - which turned out to be a good decision, since a whiteout came in soon after we turned back. Regarding the course itself, everything was very well planned and went smoothly. The course was structured and paced very well. I loved the flexibility in scheduling, and appreciate the trouble that Miyar (especially Sandeep) took in order to be flexible! I learned a lot through the course and it was a great experience!
I had a great experience taking the Denali Prep Course with our instructor Glen. The course was very thorough and Glen did a great job of teaching us complex systems in a simple way while sharing a wealth of real world mountaineering experience. We covered everything from how to tie your boot laces so they won't freeze to a comprehensive review of the recommended Denali climbing itinerary. Glen was amazingly hospitable and was very flexible in tailoring the class to work well with our location and current weather conditions. All together it was a fantastic experience that I would highly recommend and I feel much more prepared for the challenges that Denali will present.
Glen was a true professional and provided a totally personalized experience. Glen's teaching style allowed each of us to walk away with significantly improved mountaineering knowledge and skills. A good example on the trip happened when I soaked my boots. Glen didn't miss a beat and used it as a learning experience for the group on how to balance tasks when one person has a temporary handicap. The training was delivered in such a positive, customized, and professional way that learning came easy. By the end of the training, we felt stronger, more capable, and equipped to challenge Denali. Thanks, Glen!