If Denali is on your climbing list, consider joining Dave for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
- Fly over the lakes and rivers of Alaska’s wilderness into the rugged peaks of the Alaska Range to Denali's Kahiltna Glacier: one of the largest, most impressive glaciers on the mountain.
- Enjoy an expedition structured for success: with no pre-determined ending date our flexible itinerary gives our teams the freedom to make a summit bid on a timeline dictated by the mountain and the climbing team.
- Climb between the gorgeous granite rock of the West Buttress and ascend the final corniced ridge to the summit of Denali.
- Climb with Dave Hahn and experienced RMI Guides, benefiting from the background, training, and expertise of our leaders as you venture to higher altitudes.
- Take part in an RMI adventure and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Dave Hahn is a living legend in the world of American mountaineering, with fifteen successful summits of Mt. Everest, twenty-one summits of Denali, and over 275 climbs of Mt. Rainier. He also has the record holder of the most Vinson summits, finishing last season with 35 total.
What sets him apart is a passion for mountain guiding. He is a patient, hands-on instructor who leads by example, and loves helping people attain their climbing goals. Dave will regale the party each day with stories of his limitless outdoor exploits.
Denali expeditions have always held a special attraction for Dave. Preferring to climb late season, he has led the RMI late-June climb for years. This Custom trip will maintain a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio, with a maximum group size of eight climbers and four RMI guides which guarantees plenty of personal attention. A post-summit celebration dinner in Talkeetna will be hosted for the team.
The climber to guide ratio on Dave's trip is 2 to 1.
The West Buttress route on Denali was pioneered in 1951 by Dr. Bradford Washburn. The climb is a steady and gradual ascent over a period of days, and we emphasize proper acclimatization for our team members. With no rock or vertical ice climbing, the route is not considered a highly technical climb. However, the physical environment of Denali presents much of the climbing challenge: miles of heavily glaciated terrain, extremes of temperatures and weather, and climbing and living at altitude. In addition to extensive glacier travel on the lower mountain, the climbing is considerably steeper above 15,000' (35° to 45°+). Some slopes have fixed rope in place to climb with the belay of a mechanical ascender. An ascent of the West Buttress of Denali with RMI is truly a major expedition and unforgettable climbing experience!
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
When your goal is the highest peak in North America, experience matters. Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Denali and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe.
We have been guiding in Alaska since 1975 and have led over 300 expeditions on Denali.
The remote and inhospitable landscape of Denali's slopes necessitate that all the finer points of an expedition are addressed and our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips; we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our preparation before departure helps you with the trip logistics - expedition planning, travel plans, mountain flights with K2 Aviation - so that you can focus on preparing for the climb. RMI does not establish final end dates to our expeditions, giving us the flexibility to take into account considerations such as weather, route conditions, acclimatization and the strength of the climbing team while on the mountain. This flexibility allows us to move higher when the weather permits and climbers are ready, not just because of the need to adhere to a pre-determined schedule.
Our Denali expeditions are led by RMI’s foremost guides who bring years of climbing experience on not only Denali but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Antarctic to the Himalayas. With over 35 years of accumulated knowledge guiding Denali, our guides are second to none. Our guides closely monitor climbers’ performance and acclimatization throughout the team’s ascent and will make day-to-day variations in order to better your chances of reaching the summit. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated.
Safety has always been RMI’s top priority, and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same strict standards of safety we bring to the Antarctic and the Himalayas to our climbs of Denali. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, flexibility in our itinerary, and diligent attention is taken as we venture to high altitudes. Additional resources are stationed at Base Camp, and 14,000’ Camp and comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the climb.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure, please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or [email protected].
RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Denali National Park and Preserve.
All of our climbs in Denali National Park and Preserve are 100% carbon neutral. We have partnered with Offsetters, Canada's leading carbon management solutions provider, to purchase offsets for our greenhouse gas emissions. Their projects are verified and validated by third parties to ensure that the emission reductions are real, additional, and permanent, so we know that our contribution is making a real difference.
By supporting this project, we prevent the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions that were generated by our operations from being emitted somewhere else. These offsets allow us to achieve our goal of sustainability and further promote responsible environmental practices.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or send an email to [email protected].
Travel insurance is required for this trip. Your travel insurance policy should include trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, and evacuation.
Navigating through the different options for travel insurance can be confusing. For this reason, we have partnered with Ripcord Insurance because some of their policies are designed for adventure travel with coverages for remote activities with no altitude restrictions.
When purchasing Travel Insurance, here are a few items to consider:
- Read the fine print. Travel Insurance will refund you when canceling for a covered reason for any non-refundable cancellation fees. However, there are exclusions, so make sure you understand the "covered reasons."
- Confirm that your activity is a covered “activity.” Not all travel insurance policies will offer coverage for activities such as mountaineering, climbing, skiing, or trekking adventures. Policies can also exclude coverage for activities due to the gear used (crampons, ice axe), for activities that go above certain elevations or for activities in a particular region of the world. If there are exclusions, you may need to add an "Adventure" or "Sports" package to cover your activity.
- Verify that your state of residence is allowed with the policy that you are purchasing. Not all insurance companies offer policies in all 50 states.
Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance is travel insurance designed for adventurers, including the best evacuation and rescue services available.
Benefits are tailored for adventurers and include:
- Rescue and evacuation from the point of illness or emergency to your home hospital of choice.
- Trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, sporting goods, baggage loss, emergency dental, Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D), and more.
- Completely integrated one-stop program with a single contact for emergency services to travel assistance and insurance claims.
- 24/7 access to paramedics, nurses, and military veterans.
- Security extraction in case of unexpected dangerous and chaotic events.
Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel security risk company. Their team is comprised of special operations veterans, paramedics, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, former intelligence officers, insurance actuaries, and global security experts with dozens of years of experience in theaters around the world. The Redpoint network covers the globe, making them uniquely equipped to provide elite rescue travel insurance – in every sense of the word. Whether it’s reimbursing you for a canceled trip, paying your travel medical bills, or evacuating you home in an emergency, Ripcord takes the worry out of your travel.
Getting to Talkeetna
FLIGHTS TO ALASKA
Climbers need to arrive at Anchorage International Airport (ANC) by 1:00 pm on Day 1 of the program. The group will meet at 1:30 pm, Alaska Airlines domestic baggage claim, carousel #1.
If your flight cannot arrive in Anchorage before 1:00 p.m., it will be necessary to arrive a day earlier and go to the airport to meet the team.
We recommend allowing 30 days to complete this expedition, door-to-door. Since we do not have a hard ending date for the climb, we recommend that you purchase a one-way flight to Anchorage, AK, for the beginning of your trip, then purchasing your return flight once the team returns to Talkeetna. Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket with a flexible return date and change your flight when you return to Talkeetna. This works better than an open-ended ticket or missing an early return date.
SHUTTLE TO TALKEETNA
We will arrange a transfer from Anchorage to Talkeetna at 2:00 p.m. the day your program begins. Please arrive in Anchorage no later than 1:00 p.m. Talkeetna is a three-hour drive from Anchorage. If you are traveling to Talkeetna on your own, please let RMI know in advance that you will not require transportation.
Anchorage Accommodations Near the Airport
If you are arriving in Anchorage the day before your program begins, below are some hotel options close to the Anchorage Airport:
Denali's weather forecast is updated through the National Weather Service
Our guides work hard to ensure your well-being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program. If you would rather not bring the guide gratuity with you on the trip, you can send a check or call the RMI office to pay with a credit card upon your return.
Mountaineering is replete with literary accounts of high adventure in Alaska. For aspiring Denali climbers, certain historical narratives, as well as how-to guide books, can prove both entertaining and educational, significantly adding to one's enjoyment of the expedition.
The list below represents some personal favorites from over three decades of guiding in Alaska. I particularly enjoy the story of the first winter ascent: Minus 148 degrees!
Whether you are challenging the West Buttress, learning crevasse rescue on the lower Kahiltna Glacier, or rock climbing in Little Switzerland, these titles will greatly enhance your experience and appreciation of Alaska!
- Joe Horiskey
Bass, D., Wells, F., Ridgeway, R. Seven Summits 1986
Beckey, Fred Mount McKinley: Icy Crown of North America 1993
Bezruhka, Stephen Altitude Illness - Prevention & Treatment 2001
Cole, Terence The Sourdough Expedition: Stories of the Pioneer Alaskans Who Climbed Mount McKinley in l910 1985
Davidson, Art Minus 148: The Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley 1986
Houston, Charles Going Higher: The Story of Man and Altitude 1987
Mason, Gen Minus Three 1970
Michener, James A. Alaska 1988
Moore, Terris Mount McKinley: The Pioneer Climbs 1981
Roberts, David The Mountain of My Fear 1968
Randall, Francis Denali Diary: Letters from McKinley 1987
Seattle Mountaineers The Freedom of the Hills 2017
Selters, Andy Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue 2009 (second printing)
Sherwonit, Bill To The Top of Denali 2013 (third edition)
Sherwonit, Bill Denali, A Literary Anthology 2000
Stuck, Hudson The Ascent of Denali 1914
Washburn, B., Roberts, D. Mount McKinley - The Conquest of Denali 1991
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition with previous glacier climbing experience. Successful completion of an RMI Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier, in Alaska, Peru, Ecuador, North Cascades, or an equivalent multi-day mountaineering seminar is required prior to registration. The Seminar must include a successful summit climb.
Denali’s high altitude and extreme polar weather, combined with spending three weeks on the mountain, traveling on complicated glaciated terrain, and carrying heavy backpacks, all contribute to make this a very demanding climb. When reviewing the climbing resumes of RMI climbers who have successfully reached the summit of Denali, each resume had at least three of the following components:
- PHYSICAL CONDITIONING: Fit individuals with focused training to prepare for carrying required pack weight.
- ELEVATION: Climbing to altitudes above 15,000.’
- MULTI-DAY PROGRAMS: Participating in unsupported multi-day climbing or trekking or backcountry trips, carrying all gear, and moving to different camps.
- DATE OF LAST ADVENTURE: Climbing activities occurring within the last 3 to 5 years.
Your climbing resume should include:
- Glacier travel experience
- Summit day that exceeds 10 - 12 hours
- Experience at altitudes above 14,000'
- Familiarity with the skills needed for a cold, remote and heavily glaciated peak
- Crampon skills on 30 - 50 degree slopes
- Team rope travel skills
- Knots & slings - Prusik, butterfly, Münter, etc.
- Snow and ice anchors (construction & equalization)
- Belaying and running belay experience
- Crevasse rescue (from both the victim and rescuer perspectives, and considering heavy packs and sleds)
- Fixed line travel with mechanical ascenders
- Ice axe self and team arrest, with and without a backpack
- Snow camp construction
Recommended climbing experiences prior to the Denali - West Buttress Expedition include:
Mt. Rainier Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons
Mt. Rainier Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz
Mt. Rainier Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir
Mt. Rainier Expedition Skills Seminar - Paradise
Expedition Skills Seminar - Kahiltna Glacier
Expedition Skills Seminar - Baker: Easton
Expedition Skills Seminar - Shuksan
Ecuador Seminar - Chimborazo
Expedition Skills Seminar - Peru
Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life And Then Go Climb A Mountain
Create A Fitness And Training Program
Fitness for Mountaineering
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina, and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The 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 - West Buttress Expedition, you are preparing for:
- Steep climbing and glacier travel with a 50-65 lb load, including sled pulling
- Strenuous physical activity for multiple hours a day for multiple consecutive days
- A 12-14+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques requiring core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile, which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days, and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key critical factors in determining an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
What You’ll Need
A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation, and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear, and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.
The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.
RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item. Thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a good reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.
Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list carefully so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine-tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!
- Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering when they use code RMI2023 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.
Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb
Pack & Travel
100+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers. This can be used as your checked bag on your flight to Alaska and to store excess gear in Talkeetna.
A lightweight 100+ liter duffel to transport gear in your sled. This bag does not need to be waterproof. This can also be used as your second checked bag on your flight to Alaska.
Your pack must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and your share of group equipment. The pack volume you choose depends on your experience and the quality of your gear; if you opt for a smaller pack, practice packing and make sure you can fit all of your gear with room to spare. You will not need a separate summit pack.
Sleeping Bag & Pad
We recommend a bag rated between -20° and -40° F. Allow ample room for movement. We highly recommend down over synthetic for its light weight, warmth, and packability. If you know you sleep cold, consider a -40° F bag.
A full-length inflatable pad.
A full-length closed cell foam pad, used in combination with the inflatable sleeping pad.
The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat, or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.
Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
Used for pack ditch loop, etc.
12-point adjustable steel crampons with anti-balling plates designed for general mountaineering use.
Bring extra batteries appropriate to the duration of the climb.
We recommend lightweight and collapsible poles with snow baskets.
For traveling on fixed lines. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.
120 cm sewn sling ("double-length runner").
60 cm sewn sling ("single-length runner").
6mm accessory cord for sled tether, sled prussik, and ditch loop.
Approximately 12-20” each.
Paracord or thin (3-4mm) accessory cord for lashing your duffel onto your sled.
Select a short to medium length model of snowshoe- 22" is an ideal size. Team members are more often 'drafting' as opposed to actually breaking trail, so it is not necessary to have a longer pair. You will log miles of roped glacier travel while wearing snowshoes, so spend some time walking in them prior to the trip. We highly recommend models with a heel lift, which makes uphill travel significantly easier.
A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet.
Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
A Buff provides versitile head and neck protection. A neck gaiter is also acceptable.
Cloth or surgical face mask for use in situations where 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.
Glacier glasses are protective sunglasses that provide close to 100% frame coverage (wrap-around frames and side shields ensure no light can enter from the top, bottom, and sides of the glasses) and transmit less than 10% of visual light.
Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
Light weight liner or softshell gloves. Lighter colors absorb less sunlight while still offering UV protection.
Wind- and water-resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
Wind- and water-resistant, insulated gloves.
For summit day and other very cold days. Gloves provide greater dexterity. Mitts provide greater warmth.
We recommend six upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Three of these should be insulating layers, one light, one medium and one heavy that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Light weight, light-colored, hooded baselayers (sun hoodys) are highly recommended for sun protection.
One step up in warmth and bulk from a baselayer. A technical fleece makes an ideal light weight insulating layer.
A down, synthetic, or softshell hoody makes a great midlayer.
A hooded down or synthetic jacket.
An uninsulated, waterproof shell jacket with hood.
Your expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood and be able to fit over the rest of your upper body layers. The parka is worn primarily in camp, at rest breaks, and on summit day when it is of crucial importance. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill.
We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
Synthetic or wool.
Softshell climbing pants can be worn in combination with a base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
Non-insulated, waterproof shell pants must be able to fit comfortable over your baselayer bottoms and softshell climbing pants. Full side zippers or 7/8 side zippers are required so that shell pants can be put on while wearing boots and crampons.
A pair of lightweight, insulated pants are ideal for extra warmth and comfort at camps, both on the glacier and on the trail.
Expedition-style double boots provide the best balance of weight, comfort, and insulation. Your boots need to be roomy enough to allow for good circulation. Anticipate a sock combination when sizing them (single sock, liner and sock, or two heavy socks on each foot). The idea is to adequately fill the volume of the boot, and to insulate. Wear the boots as often as possible before the climb, to determine proper fit, comfort and performance.
Expedition overboots add significant warmth.
Goose down or synthetic fill. Nice for evenings at camp.
Great for traveling and wearing around town. A pair of tennis shoes or light hikers works well.
A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing. Not needed if using a boot with an integrated gaiter.
Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc.), should work just fine for this climb.
First Aid & Medications
We recommend you speak with your physician about which medications you should have for high-altitude climbing. These medications are only used in emergency situations, and if someone is showing symptoms of HAPE or HACE, our standard protocol is for immediate descent. We do not take any of these medications prophylactically, and please talk with your guide before taking medications.
We require each climber to have the following medications:
125mg tablets for the prevention or treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness. A normal prescription is 125mg tablets, twice a day. Recommend 15 - 20 tablets.
4mg tablets for the treatment of altitude illness. Recommend 12 tablets.
30mg slow-release tablets for the prevention or treatment of high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Recommend 8 - 10 tablets.
Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, cough drops, basic painkillers, an antacid, an anti-diarrheal, and personal medications.
See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.
Insulated outdoor-style mug. We recommed a model with a removable lid, which helps retain heat and prevent spills. You may also choose to use 0.5L insulated bottle or a 0.5L nalgene.
A spoon or spork made of durable plastic or anodized metal. A long-handled spoon can be nice, especially if eating from a freeze-dried meal pouch.
One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic).
High quality, durable vacuum bottle with a volume of 1/2 liter or 1 liter.
These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.
Bring as needed.
Heavy-duty trash compacter bags for caching and for use as waterproof pack/stuff sack liners. You can also use a waterproof pack liner.
Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.
We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
We recommend SPF 15 or higher.
Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.
Practice using this before coming on the climb!
One clearly-marked wide-mouth or collapsible bottle for overnight use.
Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.
A small power bank, enough to charge a phone or e-reader several times.
A small solar panel to charge personal electronics.
Watch with an altimeter, barometer, and compass. Many smart watches will also have this functionalty.
Communicate with family and friends back home, track your progress, and much more. Generally requires a subscription plan. Make sure this is a modern model that makes it difficult to inititate an accidental SOS call.
We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.
Purchase travel insurance.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the best shape of your life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, shovels, climbing ropes, climbing anchors, and avalanche probes.
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Each member will have a sled for use during the program. Sleds aid in transporting loads between camps on the lower mountain.
On the Denali - West Buttress expedition you will need 22 mountain lunches. All of your mountain lunch items should weigh about 20 lb.
Breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain are included in your program cost. You are responsible for all meals while we are off the mountain.
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu options are available.
Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.
Take care while shopping for your personal mountain lunch items. Don't wait until the last minute. Make a list in advance and add to it as you generate and remember more ideas. Try to shop at stores that offer a large variety of gourmet and specialty foods, as well as your old, stand-by favorites. Keep in mind that, for the most part, Denali stays cold enough to preserve perishable food for weeks.
Recommended mountain lunch items: bagels, tortillas, crackers (Wheat Thins, Triscuits), hummus, Pringles, corn nuts, smoked almonds, roasted cashews, GORP mix (peanuts, M&M's, sunflowers seeds, raisins, etc), smoked salmon, fresh veggies (carrots), salami, pepperoni, cheese (pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar), jerky, candy (sweet and sour varieties), chocolate bars, hard candies, energy bars (Cliff, Luna), dried fruits (apricots, pineapple, pear), and drink mixes (Gatorade, Kool-Aid, Crystal Light or instant coffee).
Perishable food items may be purchased at a grocery store en-route to Talkeetna; you should have the bulk of lunch items already purchased and packed.
Sample of Seth Waterfall's personal lunch food from his Denali Expedition:
25 bars: a mix of Cliff, Luna, and others
2 lb of almond, dried cranberries & chocolate chips
2 packages of bagels
2 packages of whole wheat tortillas
2 blocks of cheese - pepper jack & sharp cheddar
1 Hickory Farms summer sausage
1 pepperoni stick
1 package Little Smokies
2 packs of smoked salmon
1 pack of turkey jerky
2 cans each: clams, oysters
1 container of peanut butter & jelly mix
2 packages of crackers (Wheat Thins & Triscuits)
2 cans of potato chips (Pringles)
2+ lb GORP mix
1 box of Ginger Snaps
1 box of graham crackers
1 container of hummus
1 bag of carrots
1 package of dried mangos
1 small container of sweet mustard
Gatorade mix, travel size Crystal Light packets, instant coffee
25 mixed candies (lifesavers, jolly ranchers, gummy worms, sweet tarts, toffee, mints)
Breakfasts consist of fresh food (bagels, cream cheese), bacon and eggs, instant oatmeal, instant grits, cold cereal (granola), breakfast bars, and hot drinks.
Twenty-two man-days of food are carried on the mountain, which can be stretched in the event of bad weather. Additionally, a cache of emergency food is left at Kahiltna Base Camp.
The dinner menu is a combination of fresh food (vegetables, tortillas, cheese), retort entrees (fully cooked meals packaged in sealed containers and heated in hot water), freeze-dried entrees (Mountain House or Alpine Air), and packaged main course items (ramen, Lipton Rice or Noodles, macaroni and cheese). Various hot drinks (tea and cocoa) and dessert are also provided.
Every attempt is made to assure a variety and adequate quantity.
We require that all climbers and guides have received the primary COVID-19 vacciantion series (1 or 2 doses depending on manufacturer) to join our programs. You will need to upload a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Card into your RMI Account before you can be confirmed on the program.
We also require climbers read, sign, and agree to RMI's COVID-19 Operating Procedures in order to participate in the program.
Deposit Payments: A non-refundable deposit payment of $3,500 per person secures your reservation.
- Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank, or wire transfer**.
- **Wire transfers must cover all fees charged by your bank. The amount of the incoming wire to our bank must equal the balance payment amount.
Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 120 days before the start of your program.
- Balance payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express*, e-check/ACH, check from a U.S. bank or wire transfer.**
- **Wire transfers must cover all fees charged by your bank. The amount of the incoming wire to our bank must equal the balance payment amount.
- A payment reminder is emailed approximately three weeks before your payment due date. If your balance payment is not received 120 days before the start of your program, your reservation will be canceled, and all program fees forfeited.
- Payment in full is required when registering for a program within 120 days of the departure date.
*There is a 3% surcharge on all credit/debit card transactions. Credit/debit cards are not accepted for payments of $10,000 or more.
The $3,500 per person deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable.
- All cancellations require written notification. Once the RMI Office receives your written notification of cancellation, the following apply:
- If you cancel 120 or more days before the start of your program, the $3,500 per person deposit will not be refunded.
- If you cancel less than 120 days before the start of your program, no refunds will be issued.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of these programs, and the amount of preparation time required for this program, we strictly adhere to our policy and cannot make exceptions for any reason.
We require that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Tab for details.
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at any time up to 90 days prior to your departure date for a $500 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 90 days before departure.
- RMI Leadership
- Ground transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna
- Hotel accommodations in Talkeetna for two nights at the start of the trip*
- National Park Service Mountaineering Permit Fee
- Denali National Park Entrance Fee
- Breakfast and dinner while on the mountain
- Group equipment (tents, ropes, stoves, fuel, sleds, etc.)
- Bush pilot service between Talkeetna and Kahiltna Base Camp as stated in the itinerary
- Airfare and/or ground transportation to Talkeetna, Alaska
- Landing or airport taxes in Talkeetna, Alaska
- Hotel accommodations in Talkeetna not included above
- Travel Insurance
- Meals while not on the mountain
- Mountain lunches during the climb
- Customary guide gratuities
- Bush pilot fees if returning from the mountain early
- Hotel Accommodations at the end of the trip or if returning from the mountain early
- Ground transportation at the end of the trip or if returning from the mountain early
- Any expenses from COVID-19 or COVID-19 testing that causes delays or quarantine requirements such as additional lodging, food, transfers, delayed test results, etc.
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. Managing risk is RMI’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rockfall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them.
You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Each Participant is required to share in the responsibility of the safety and success of the team. For this reason, we ask that each Participant:
- Possess the climbing prerequisites required for this program.
- Possess the necessary physical and mental fitness required for this program.
- Be responsible for knowing all pre-departure information.
- Provide a signed Physician’s Certificate stating that the Participant is medically qualified to join this program.
- Update the RMI Office if there are any changes to your health or medical information before departure.
- Be properly attired and equipped as outlined in the Equipment List.
- Act in a considerate manner toward all team members and show respect for local customs, values, and traditions in the areas we travel.
- Show respect for the environment and follow appropriate Leave No Trace practices.
- Describe yourself, honestly and accurately, in terms of fitness, health, skills, abilities, and your equipment to your guide staff.
- Communicate with your guide staff on the mountain if there are any changes in your medications or health.
- Adhere to the advice of your guide staff.
- Continue to self-assess throughout the program, measuring your fitness, health, skills, and abilities against the demands required of the program.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a program or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if the RMI Guide Staff determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program or for any other reason that may compromise the safety, health or well-being of the Participant or the entire group. If this decision is made, the Participant will not receive any refunds or credits and will be financially responsible for any additional costs associated with an early departure, including but not limited to, evacuation, transportation, hotels, meals, etc.
Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) does not tolerate harassment or mistreatment of our participants or employees. Inappropriate conduct under this policy may include conduct that creates a disrespectful, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for a participant or employee. Engaging in such conduct is a violation of this policy.
RMI may consider conduct to be in violation of the policy even if it falls short of unlawful harassment under applicable law. When determining whether conduct violates this policy, we will consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment.
Violation of this policy may result in removal from a program, as well as refusal to provide services indefinitely. We place the utmost value on the safety of our participants and employees. Please report any incidents to RMI management.
All participants must be 18 years old at the time of registration.
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire group may have to turnaround without reaching the summit.
Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route conditions, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in a refund, credit, or reschedule.
RMI’s program schedule and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, group strength, terrain, or other environmental factors, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including but not limited to increases in program fees, changes to program schedule or itinerary, and changes to guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. Once the program has started, the Lead Guide will decide on any changes to the itinerary, including ending the program early if the continuation of the program may compromise the safety, health, or well-being of the group.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather, route conditions, or for any other reason. In such a case, we will make every effort to reschedule the Participant on a different program date. If rescheduling is not possible, we will issue you a refund for all program fees paid to RMI, less any non-refundable payments that have been paid on your behalf to secure any of the land costs, operational expenses, or services required for this program, including but not limited to hotel accommodations, transportation and transfers, tours, group food, permits, local outfitter services, and insurance premiums prior to the cancellation of the program. Additionally, RMI cannot be responsible for any non-refundable expenses the Participant incurred in preparation for the program (i.e., airline tickets, hotel reservations, rental cars, equipment purchases or rentals, etc.).
Once a program begins, there are no refunds or credits for weather-related cancellations or for programs that may end early due to weather, route conditions, or any other circumstances that may compromise the health, safety, or well-being of the group. Furthermore, if the Participant decides for any reason not to begin a program or to discontinue a program at any time, no refunds or credits will be issued. The Participant will be responsible for all additional costs associated with an early departure, including but not limited to evacuation, transportation, hotel reservations, meals, etc.
The Participant is responsible for any costs incurred due to COVID-19, including but not limited to, any testing fees or costs associated with medical care and/or quarantine such as hotel accommodations, meals, separate transportation, etc.
Land Costs are provided as a package, and refunds or credits will not be issued for any unused meals, accommodations, group transportation, or other unused costs. Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those Participants occupying single accommodations either by choice or circumstance. If you are willing to share a room, we will make every effort to pair you with another same-gender team member. We will match willing same-gender team members based on the order of registration date. If we are unable to match you with another same-gender team member, a single supplement fee will be charged. The availability of single accommodations is limited in most of the hotels where we stay, and single accommodations are not available while in the mountains.
The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality services provided to the Participant by other companies in connection with the program, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, rental cars, and transportation companies. In addition, RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program. The Participant will be responsible for all costs associated with any travel delays, missed connections, or missing baggage that requires additional arrangements (separate transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, etc.) to be made on your behalf for you or your baggage to rejoin the program.