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Denali - West Buttress Expedition

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  • Show Trip Info

    $11725 *
    21 days
    Level 4



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Denali  - West Buttress Expedition

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Surrounded by the massive glaciers and peaks of the Alaska Range and overlooking Alaska's interior stands 20,310' Denali, the highest mountain in North America.


  • 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 expeditions 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 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.

Mt McKinley: 20,320'
Downtown Talkeetna
A ski plane taking off from Talkeetna bound for the Alaska Range
Flying into the Alaska Range
McKinley Base Camp on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier
An RMI Team crossing the lower Kahiltna Glacier
An RMI Team nearing Camp 1 on the Lower Kahiltna Glacier
Camp 1 on the Kahiltna Glacier
An RMI Team approaching Camp 2 at 9,500'
RMI Climbers taking in the view 11 Camp (Camp 3)
An RMI Team cresting over Motorcycle Hill above 11 Camp
RMI Guide Leon Davis standing in front of the Father and Son's Wall on Denali's Northwest Face
An RMI Team crossing the Polo Fields below Windy Corner
An RMI Team rounding Windy Corner
An RMI Team rounding Windy Corner seen from high on the West Buttress
14 Camp (Camp 4) sitting in the middle of Genet Basin
An RMI Expedition relaxing in the cook tent at camp
Looking out over the Edge Of The World near 14 Camp
Climbing the fixed lines to reach the West Buttress
An RMI Climber at the base of Washburn's Thumb on McKinley's West Buttress
An RMI Team on McKinley's West Buttress
17 Camp (High Camp/Camp 5) on Denali's West Buttress Route
RMI Climbers checking out the view from 17 Camp
Climbing toward Denali Pass
An RMI Team crosses the Autobahn before reaching Denali Pass
An RMI Team nearing the Summit Ridge
Climbers on Denali's Summit Ridge
An RMI Team on the final strech of Denali's Summit Ridge
An RMI Team steps onto the summit of Mt. McKinley
An RMI Team on the summit of Mt. McKinley (20,320')
RMI Climbers descending toward Denali Pass after reaching the summit of Denali
An RMI Team descending the lower Kahiltna Glacier
An RMI Team back at Base Camp after a successful expedition

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!


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 have a pre-determined ending date for 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 not only in Alaska 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 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.


RMI is pleased to offer a Custom West Buttress Expedition with Dave Hahn. Click here for details.


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 14K 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 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or [email protected].

NPS Authorized ConcessionerAuthorized Concessioner

RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Climate Change

OffsettersAll 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.

Climber Reviews

Filter By
The trip allowed me to push myself in the big mountains with the confidence that I had a team of professionals watching out and planning all of the logistics.
Steve M.

The team environment on this expedition was really special, and I attribute much of that to the outstanding leadership from the guides from the moment we arrived in Talkeetna. This was truly a life changing adventure for me, and a dream come true. I could not have asked for a better experience and RMI delivered.
Holly H.

Summiting on a beautiful day was beyond any level of expectation. We are very lucky to have been able to do that, and on the shortest possible schedule RMI allows even!
Charles C.

Awesome trip on the West Buttress of Denali. Such an incredible experience, and was very glad to have experienced guides with us to help navigate the inherent dangers of the climb.
Nathan L.

The experience demonstrated in tackling such a huge endeavor. Pete is just amazing. He was extremely patient in answering ALL of my questions, and I had a lot. Organization from pre-start (talking with Joe over the phone), during and after was impecable. Nothing went wrong outside of typical weather days and issues strictly related to mountaineering.
Albert L.

The views of the Denali and the surrounding mountain range during the climb as well as the flights to and from base camp.
Carl L.

The views, obviously. But I think I was most impressed with how cooperative the different RMI teams were with each other on the mountain. Each RMI team seemed to want to see success for every other team, even if that meant more hardship for themselves, and that was nice to see. All the climbers and guides were also just awesome people to be around.
Nick R.

Getting to know my team and having fun while climbing.
Aaron W.

Our guides, the other climbers, and making it to the summit.
Matthew H.

Outstanding few weeks. Great guides, great people, great leader. I always felt safe, I always felt like the guides were going to maximize the chances of the team summiting, and the guides just had this ability to make things seem enjoyable and fun despite being chronically cold and tired in a harsh environment. Would go anywhere with Mike King. Just a great guy.
Kirk L.

Alaska!!! Can't describe it you just got to go!
John J.

I enjoyed the experience of expedition life, and the feeling of being on Denali.
Michael D.

Climbing Denali with RMI was the trip of a lifetime. The guides and group were so fun to be around and every decision made by the guide team was top notch. The views were beyond incredible and the pictures didn't even come close to doing them justice. 10/10 adventure.
Elizabeth O.

Sign me up for more expeditions!
Petrus (Pieter) S.

I most enjoyed the whole team and the views. Getting to the summit this time was also awesome!
Matt M.

We had a very strong group. The work you guys did in screening people for this trip was paramount for a safe expedition Guides did an awesome job not only keeping us safe but also teaching skills
Roberto T.

The whole experience was great.
Rahim C.

RMI is the most professional expedition firm on Denali. Period. RMI cared deeply about making sure that we climbed safely, with the deepest understanding of the terrain and the challenges that Denali provides.
Allan O.

Through and through a brilliant experience, I couldn't be happier with the choice to invest in myself to make this trip possible. RMI is very good at what you do, and meets/exceeds most of my expectations as a climber-client.
Ashley T.

Great camaraderie not only among the guides but among the group participants.
Kelby B.

It took me two trips to Alaska to reach the top of Denali -- Denali being Denali -- but it was totally worth it! Succeeding as a Team of climbers, with GREAT guides -- was genuinely one of the most treasured accomplishments of my life. You learn so much about yourself and the importance of working with others that it can't help but provide the mortar to fill in the gaps between the bricks of an otherwise well lived life, at any age. My 7th climb with RMI, I've learned something incredible on every one! Steve, Ben and James were AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!
Steve D.

This was a once in a lifetime expedition and I was lucky enough to summit Denali. I couldn't have done this without the supremely professional and experienced guides that work for RMI. I learned a lot on this trip. It was by far the hardest mountain I have climbed so far. If anyone is seriously considering a Denali climb, I won't hesitate to recommend RMI.
John H.

Many thanks again for providing an outstanding experience on Denali. We couldn't be happier with the trip, the guides, and everything that was in RMI's power to control. Good weather and a summit were just a bonus!
Henry H.

The expedition life - building and maintaining camp and helping with chores. I decided on Day 1 that I was going to embrace every aspect of the expedition so that if we didn't summit, I would still feel like I'd maximized the training, the time and the cost. The climbing on the buttress between 14 and 17 was difficult but very enjoyable although the weather limited the spectacular views.
Lindsay N.

We had a great group, guides, and experience on the mountain. Mike, Pepper, and Gloria made the difference.
Lance O.

Great team that was willing to put in the work needed to get the job done. Always makes it easier.
Jake J.

The guides were amazing, the food preparation was awesome (all things considered) and the overall experience/skill applied seemed to exceed all of the independent teams around us as well as the other guided teams. I just felt like we were with the best operator.
Jordan F.

The adventure. Challenge. Personalities.
Joel B.

This was truly an adventure. It was incredibly difficult and challenging, but well-planned and communication was excellent.
Ryan J.

Mike and Billy's High Alpine Quesadilla Posh Stand...best quesadillas around 14 camp. LOL! On a more serious note, I really just appreciated how powerful such an expansive and grand landscape Denali offered. And loved meeting people from all over the world. Truly a great experience...except for not summiting. Next year maybe!
Rob C.

Guides were wonderful, scenery and magnitude of the mountain was breath taking. Very exciting environment to being climbing. I really enjoyed the short time we had climbing above 14K, that's the good stuff.
Dave G.

The spirit, professionalism of all guides, the complementarity of the 3 guides, the hard work, the achievement!
Lionel F.

Overall, a great experience and I will return to Denail
Rogan D.

The pride and confidence I enjoyed on the mountain as part of the best group, with the best guides there.
Bob A.

It was what you described. Safe, fun, team building - all while being a great challenge mentally and physically!
Lisa R.

The entire trip ran smoothly - like a well oiled machine. The crew were very competent and gave my a sense of comfort. It truly felt as if they had our interests at heart.
Adelle V.

The comeraderie was excellent, the pace and acclimitization was perfect, the scenery was second to none.
David H.

The group, including the guides, bonded immediately. We worked as a team and this made the experience very enjoyable. I believe the guides were a big part in bringing the team together early on.
Jim L.

The guides were truly amazing!
Meredith B.

I cant say enough good things about Mike Haugen. He is a professional in every way.
Aaron T.

Having guides help me breakthrough my physical and mental barriers to achieve the summit.
Devin S.

Guides, food was considerably good, itinerary.
Kevin L.

Incredible fun, safe, great sense of camaraderie and teamwork, leave no trace principles and good mountain values, etc.
Eric H.

The West Buttress and the views. Two of the guides were complete animals when they were working!
Lee S.

Denali is the most beautiful place I have ever been. The climb is certainly a lot of work, but it is an amazing place and RMI does a wonderful job of guiding on this amazing mountain. I would recommend to anyone considering climbing Denali that they go with RMI.
Brian P.

The guides were excellent. They were mature, very knowledgeable and above all safe.
Joe C.

Working and suffering with a great group of guys that marched to the summit and back as a team.
Shannon L.

I enjoyed the teaching aspect of this trip. As we climbed, we never stopped learning. The guides did an awesome job of preparing us for each phase of the climb.
Chris Q.

I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of the guides and believe that their age/experience range greatly improved my experience. I think pairing a senior guide with a junior guide is a great way to mature the experience level of the guides and develop deeper relationships. I also thoroughly enjoyed passing other RMI groups, meeting new guides/clients, and exchanging stories and experiences. I truly appreciated the support the guides provided to my father which allowed to him overcome all personal difficulty and reach the summit. Overall, I had a phenomenal experience and wouldn’t have changed much if anything during the expedition.
Michael F.

Just being in the Alaska range and on Denali with an awesome team of guides and climbers
Paul K.

Getting to know the guides and pushing myself were both great opportunities this trip provided. Climbing Denali pushed my limits and the guides helped me to do that in a safe way.
Jake W.

I most enjoyed the experience of being in the Alaska Range, flying into and out of the glacier, the views from the various camps, and the general vibe of the place.
Will I.

The entire process was great. I enjoyed the people I climbed with most.
David S.

With the support of Jake, Leon and Katie I was able to work through the challenges associated with an expedition climb - specifically how to breath properly and the rest step. It was incredibly satisfying to go from feeling like I would not succeed to making it to the summit of McKinley. I would not have been able to do that without the awesome RMI guides.
George R.

As always, I enjoyed unplugging from the world for a bit and spending time playing in the snow with some fairly diverse people who share the same interest.
Dwight R.

The beauty and awesomeness of Mt Mckinley and I'm hoping I will be able to return someday.
David J.

I enjoyed the mountain, being in a remote and trying environment, and interacting with the guides and all the various camps. The flight in and out was spectacular as well.
Marko P.

Bob S.

This trip was a remarkable experience, in every respect. Hard work and thorough preparation by the team members made climbing Denali more enjoyable, but it was really the excellent support from RMI and the outstanding leadership of its guides that got us to the top.
Peter R.

Experienced, professional guides and a strong team
Barbara S.

As always, meeting people and the exciting travel.
Anthony F.

Probably the people. The guides were awesome. The other clients were nice and interesting. I think we really worked well as a team.
Michael D.

The guides were really terrific and our team gelled together really well. The mountain was challenging and exciting and it made for an amazing experience.
Gail W.

Felt like I was in excellent hands and the guides were all amazing and on top of their game. I could tell that the group was their number 1 concern and were constantly checking on all of us which made me feel great.
William H.

I enjoyed sitting around the posh house listening to stories of everyone especially the guides.
Sandra O.

The whole adventure.
Daniel K.

The views.
Galen M.

The breathtaking setting and feeling so privileged to be able to experience a place that most people can only see on photos.
Monica G.

comraderie, extreme effort followed by a successful campaign
Jeff H.

Guides and how well organized everything was.Also the party in Talkeetna after we got back was pretty epic.
Virgil H.

summit attempt and the fact that we all achieved this goal.
Pete B.

A) summitting, B) getting back to base camp, C) the team, D) the weather.
Craig H.

team spirit and guidance
Thomas V.

  • Upcoming Climbs

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    Show All
  • Price
    21 days
    Level 4


Table of Contents
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Day 1

TRAVEL  •  348' | 106m

1:30 p.m.: Meet the guides at Anchorage International Airport (Domestic Terminal), carousel 1 in Alaska Airlines baggage claim.

Shuttle transportation to Talkeetna is included in the program. The shuttle leaves at 2:00 p.m. and takes three hours to arrive in Talkeetna. The group will stop at a grocery store in Wasilla, for the opportunity to purchase any fresh food you'd like to bring on the mountain. The team will arrive in Talkeetna at approximately 5:00 p.m. Overnight in Talkeetna.

Day 2


7:00 a.m.: Team Breakfast Meeting

Our main goal today is to get the team ready to fly onto the mountain. After our breakfast meeting, the team attends a National Park Service presentation on expedition climbing and special considerations about Denali National Park & Preserve. Next, we focus on equipment, including an extensive personal gear check and recommendations for what to bring onto the mountain and how to pack for the flight to Base Camp. Finally, we organize the group food and equipment, putting the final touches on our packing for the flight. We enjoy a final meal in town before our expedition begins. Overnight in Talkeetna.

Pre-trip Preparation And Training

Day 3

FLY TO KAHILTNA BASE CAMP  •  7,300' | 2,225m

After breakfast we meet at K2 Aviation for the bush plane flight to Kahiltna Base Camp, weather permitting. The spectacular scenic flight takes approximately 45 minutes. Kahiltna Base Camp lies at 7,300' on the S.E. fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, approximately 20 miles distant and 13,000' below the South Peak of Denali, at 20,310'. At Base Camp we rig our sleds and review mountaineering skills needed for our climb.

Fly To Kahiltna Base Camp


There are many variables on a Denali expedition. While most expeditions average 18 days from Base Camp to Base Camp, we never place an ending date on our programs. We purposely build flexibility into our itinerary to take into account weather, route conditions, acclimatization, and the strength of the climbing team. This flexibility allows us to move higher when the weather permits and climbers are ready. Our experienced guides closely monitor climbers' performance and acclimatization throughout the team’s ascent and may make day-to-day variations in order to better our chances of reaching the summit.

We pack each expedition with twenty-two days of food. In the event of bad weather, this amount can be stretched several additional days. Furthermore, there are emergency food rations at Kahiltna Base Camp, in case weather prevents the group from flying off the glacier.

The following itinerary is meant to highlight the camps, route details, and a day-to-day outline while on the mountain. It does not take into account any sort of delays.

Day 4


Leaving Kahiltna Base, we descend 400' down Heart Break Hill to the main Kahiltna Glacier, where we turn towards Denali and travel 5.5 miles up the gently rising glacial rolls. Our camp sits at the base of Ski Hill at 7,800'.

Base Camp To Camp 1

Day 5

SKI HILL CAMP TO 10,200' CACHE • 9,600' | 2,926m

Ski Hill is the first major elevation gain of the trip. In a series of rolls, the Kahiltna Glacier rises from our camp at the base of Ski Hill towards Kahiltna Pass at 10,000'. We leave camp, and climb up the glacier to cache a load of food and fuel in the vicinity of Kahiltna Pass. We return to the base of ski hill for the night.

Day 6

SKI HILL CAMP TO 11K CAMP • 11,200' | 3,414m

We retrace out steps from the day before, passing our cache and continuing up a glacial valley into our camp in a basin at the base of Motorcycle Hill.

Camp 2 To Camp 3

Day 7

ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT 11K CAMP • 11,200' | 3,414m

We spend the day resting, reviewing crampon and self arrest techniques, and sorting loads in anticipation of our carry day.

Acclimatization Day At Camp 3

Day 8

11K CAMP TO CACHE (13,500') • 11,200' | 3,414m

Leaving camp, we climb Motorcycle Hill to a bench with stunning views of the Father and Sons Wall, and the Peters Glacier. The subsequent climb up Squirrel Hill leads us to the Polo Field, a wide glacial bench at the foot of the West Buttress. We traverse around Windy Corner at 13,300' to our cache site at 13,500'. After leaving our load of group food, fuel, and personal items, we descend back to our tents at 11K Camp.

Camp 3 To Cache

Day 9

ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT 11K CAMP • 11,200' | 3,414m

This is an important acclimatization day before our move to 14K Camp. We spend the day resting, hydrating, eating, and organizing our loads for our move day.

Day 10

11K CAMP TO 14K CAMP • 14,200' | 4,328m

After breaking camp we make our move to 14K Camp. We once again climb around Windy Corner, and passing our cache site, continue to climb to our camp at 14,200' in Genet Basin, our home for the next several days.

11k Camp To 14k Camp

Day 11

14K CAMP TO CACHE (13,500') • 14,200' | 4,328m

We retrace our steps and descend to our cache site at 13,500'. After retrieving our gear, we return to 14K Camp to spend the afternoon improving our camp and relaxing.

14k Camp To Cache

Day 12

ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT 14K CAMP • 14,200' | 4,328m

The focus of the day is to rest, hydrate, and let our bodies start to adjust to this new altitude. We practice fixed line travel and running belays, as well as sort another load of gear, all in preparation for our carry onto the West Buttress.

Acclimatization Day At 14k Camp

Day 13

14K CAMP TO CACHE (16,200' - 17,200') • 14,200' | 4,328m

We ascend out of the North side of Genet Basin, gaining the fixed lines at approximately 15,200' that top out at the ridge line of the West Buttress at 16,200'. Depending on time, weather, route conditions, and energy level, we may opt to make our cache at the top of the fixed lines, or travel higher along the West Buttress towards 17K Camp before caching. After leaving our loads, we return to 14K Camp for the evening.

14k Camp To Cache

Day 14

ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT 14K CAMP • 14,200' | 4,328m

After a leisurely breakfast we make it our priority to hydrate and fuel throughout the day so that we’re prepared for our move to High Camp and the summit push. Depending on weather, we may stretch our legs and take a short walk across Genet Basin to the Edge of the World. From here we can look down almost 7,000' to the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna, see our first camp at the Base of Ski Hill, and look across the valley to stunning views of 17,402' Mt. Foraker.

Camp 4 To Camp 5

Day 15

14K CAMP TO 17K CAMP • 17,200' | 5,243m

We ascend the North side of Genet Basin once again, gaining the fixed lines to the ridge crest of the West Buttress at 16,200'. We travel along the ridge crest, stopping to pick up any essentials from our cache before continuing to our High Camp at 17,200'.

14k Camp To 17k Camp

14k Camp To 17k Camp

Day 16

SUMMIT DAY! (20,310') • 17,200' | 5,243m

Our climb begins with a long rising traverse along the Autobahn to Denali Pass at 18,200'. Beyond Denali Pass, we follow the ridge line, passing the Zebra Rocks and the Archdeacon’s Tower before gaining the Football Field at 19,200'. Six hundred vertical feet of climbing leads us to the top of Pig Hill and the summit ridge. We traverse the airy summit ridge to the top of the South Peak. After celebrating on the summit, we descend our route back to High Camp. Summit day can be long; you should train for a 12 to 14 hour round trip.

Summit Day

Summit Day

Day 17

17K CAMP TO 11K CAMP • 11,200' | 3,414m

After a well-deserved rest we pack camp and begin our descent back down the West Buttress. We stop briefly at 14K Camp to retrieve any cached items before continuing our descent to 11K Camp, where we stop for the night.

17k Camp To 11k Camp

Day 18

11K CAMP TO KAHILTNA BASE CAMP • 7,300' | 2,225m

We re-rig our sleds, don our snowshoes, and begin our descent of the main Kahiltna Glacier back to the base of Heartbreak Hill. We then turn our sights back uphill to Kahiltna Base on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna.

11k Camp To Kahiltna Base Camp

Day 19

BASE CAMP to Talkeetna (fly off) • 348' | 106m

Talkeetna is a mere 45-minute flight from Kahiltna Base Camp, weather permitting. Many a party has sat for a day, or two, or even several, waiting for a break in the weather. At this stage of the expedition, our team is in the capable hands of the professional bush pilots of K2 Aviation. When the weather cooperates, we will load up the planes and return to Talkeetna to enjoy a hot shower and celebratory team meal. Overnight in Talkeetna. 

Base Camp

Day 20


9:00 a.m.: Transfer to Anchorage International Airport (ANC) for our outbound flights.

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Travel Consultant

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

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 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.


RipcordRipcord 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


Climbers need to arrive at Anchorage International Airport (ANC) by 1:00 p.m. on Day 1 of the program. The group will meet at 1:30 p.m., 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.


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 or learning crevasse rescue on the lower Kahiltna Glacier, 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

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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

Qualifying Programs

Recommended climbing experiences prior to the Denali - West Buttress Expedition include:

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

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 critical factors in determining an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.

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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!

  • Whittaker Mountaineering 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

Equipment List

    • Image of SLED DUFFEL BAG

      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.

    • Image of 85+ LITER BACKPACK

      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.

    • Image of SLEEPING BAG

      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 closed cell foam pad, used in combination with the inflatable sleeping pad.

    • Image of ICE AXE
      ICE AXE

      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.


      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.

    • Image of SNOWSHOES

      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.


      Cloth or surgical face mask for use in situations where 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.

    • Image of GLACIER GLASSES

      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.

    • Image of GOGGLES

      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.

  • Hands

    Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

  • Guide Pick™

  • Upper Body

    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.

  • Guide Pick™


      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.

  • Lower Body

    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.

  • Guide Pick™


      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.


      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.

    • Image of MEALS & SNACKS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

    • Image of BOWL

      Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.

    • Image of INSULATED MUG

      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.

    • Image of SPOON OR SPORK

      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.

    • Image of WATER BOTTLES
      2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES

      One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic).


      These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.


      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.

    • Image of SUNSCREEN

      We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • Image of EAR PLUGS

      Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.

    • Image of CAMERA (OPTIONAL)

      Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.


      A small solar panel to charge personal electronics.

    • Image of ABC WATCH (OPTIONAL)

      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.

    • Image of TRAVEL CLOTHES

      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!

Provided Equipment

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.

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On the Denali - West Buttress expedition, you will need 22 mountain lunches. All of your mountain lunch items should weigh about 20 lbs.

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. 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 personal drink mixes for the trip (Gatorade, Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, instant coffee, hot cider). RMI will provide hot cocoa mix and teas.

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 personal lunch food for a 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 days of group food are carried on the mountain, which can be stretched out 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.

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covid-19 procedures

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 and complete two Health Screenings (one 14 days before your program date and one upon arrival) in order to participate in the program.


Deposit Payments: A non-refundable deposit payment of $2,500 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 $2,500 per person deposit is non-refundable.

  • 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 $2,500 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.

Cancellation Insurance

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 as stated in the itinerary
  • Hotel accommodations in Talkeetna for two nights at the start of the trip and one night at the end 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 to Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  • 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 if returning from the mountain early
  • Ground transportation 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.

Risk Management

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.

PARTICIPANT Responsibilities

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.

Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions

In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines:

  • Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
  • Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the duration of the program
  • Ages 18 & above: No restrictions 

An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example, a 15-year-old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.

Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the minor climber throughout the entirety of the program. If either climber must descend at any time during the program, both climbers must descend together.

A parent or legal guardian must sign for any Participant that is under 18 years of age. On behalf of any minor participant, the parent or legal guardian understands and accepts all the terms of the Program Policies.

Summit Attempt

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.

General Policies

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.

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