Donjek Route

The Donjek route rises over the vast alpine of the Burwash Uplands and then descends to the toe of the Donjek Glacier. This route challenges routefinding and navigation skills and typifies this pristine mountain wilderness.

Trip Photos

  • Ascending up towards Expectation Pass with the Donjek Glacier in the distance Ascending up towards Expectation Pass with the Donjek Glacier in the distance
  • After crossing the tundra flats of Burwash Landing, a group approaches Hoge Pass After crossing the tundra flats of Burwash Landing, a group approaches Hoge Pass
  • Descending some steeper terrain off of Atlas Pass - where it can snow every month of the year Descending some steeper terrain off of Atlas Pass - where it can snow every month of the year
  • A day hike down to the face of the Donjek Glacier A day hike down to the face of the Donjek Glacier
  • Camping towards the end of the route on along the Duke River Camping towards the end of the route on along the Duke River
     

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Haines, AK
Destination: Kluane National Park
Duration: 12 days
Price: $2250 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Backpacking
Season: June, July, August, September
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 8
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Liability Waiver

Related Trips:

Trip Description

The Donjek Route takes place in Kluane National Park and Reserve, home to Canada’s highest peak, Mt. Logan.

This world heritage site is a land of precipitous high mountains, immense icefields and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for an unrivaled outdoor experience.

The Donjek Route is a challenging and exceptionally remote backpacking trip through the largest protected wilderness area in the world. Defined as a “route”, there are no defined trails or designated campsites. This trip is a rare opportunity to explore the backcountry in an unadulterated state. Covering approximately 100 kilometers and up to 2165 meters (7100 ft) in elevation, this is the backpacking adventure of a lifetime.

HAINES: Haines, Alaska is the starting/finishing place for this trip. Haines is a small community located along the fjords at the top of the Inside Passage. The natural beauty and wilderness access found here are responsible for Haines’ reputation as a center for wilderness adventure in Alaska.

GETTING TO HAINES: Regular flight service runs to Juneau, AK. From there you are a short 45 minute flight or a 4 hour ferry along the Alaska Marine Highway to get to the small coastal community of Haines.

HIKING:The Donjek route rises over the vast alpine of the Burwash Uplands and then descends to the toe of the Donjek Glacier. This route challenges routefinding and navigation skills and typifies “pristine mountain wilderness”. Stream crossings, game trails, alpine passes, and the occasional bushwhack typify travel in this dramatic landscape.

KLUANE NATIONAL PARK:The Donjek route is located in Kluane National Park. A UNESCO world heritage site, this is a land of precipitous, high mountains, immense icefields and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for an unrivaled outdoor experience.

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Alaska and the world and they genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their skill and positive attitudes help our guests to have the best possible experience during their trip. Your safety and enjoyment are their primary goals.

Trip Itinerary (in a printable PDF format)

Day 0: Meet in Haines for a pre-trip orientation. Lodging and meals on your own.

Day 1-2: We’ll drive from Haines into the Burwash Uplands of the Yukon. We begin by hiking across open sub-alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers. There is potential to see caribou and other wildlife in this area. We’ll cover the basics of navigation in alpine terrain.

Days 3: Hoge Pass. Dall sheep and mountain goats frequent the high passes. The trail disappears as we descend the pass towards the rivers. We make our way down steep terrain to Hoge Creek.

Day 4: At Hoge Creek we’ll have a shorter travel day and make our way to the Donjek River valley. After crossing Hoge Creek a number of times, we’ll bushwhack our way onto some old horse trails that lead us parallel with the Donjek.

Day 5-6: Donjek River and glacier-broad expanses, the heights of the St. Elias Mountain Range, and a calving glacier make this particular portion of the journey a highlight.

Day 7-8: Bighorn Creek and Chert Creek After waking up early in the morning to cross Bighorn Creek and learn more about stream crossing and safety concerns, we’ll head up Chert Creek (aptly named for its high content of the mineral chert). We’ll camp in a beautiful alpine basin below Atlas Pass. We allow for a rest day in this drainage to rest up for a big day over the pass.

Day 9: Atlas Pass is another great opportunity to see Dall sheep and mountain goats. It often snows up at the higher passes even in the middle of the summer. We’ll descend and camp down by the Duke River.

Day 10: Another early start allows us to cross the headwaters of the Duke river and hike uphill to our camp at Cache lake.

Day 11: We descend Copper Joe Creek drainage which leads us towards our final camp near the Alaska Canadian highway where we’ll get picked up the following day.

Day 12: Return to Haines.

What sets Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. apart from other guiding companies?
Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. has been providing the highest quality guiding for over 15 years. We operate instructional and guided programs throughout the world. They range from instructional rock climbing courses and guided ascents of the world’s tallest peaks to remote sea kayaking expeditions and leadership guide training courses. AMGCSI is at the forefront of the guiding industry and continues to raise industry standards.

How much experience do I need for the Donjek Route?
No experience is necessary to sign up for most of our trips. All that is required is good physical and emotional health and motivation for the experience of a lifetime. New participants have varying levels of experience. A strong desire to be an active participant and have new experiences are the most important factors for success on an AMGCSI trip.

How much gear will I be expected to carry?

Given that the Donjek is a 12 day trip, you should expect pack weights to vary from 40-60 pounds.  Typically the first 3-4 days have heavier loads, and as we consume food, the packs get lighter.  It is important to pack light, as well as have some experience carrying a heavier backpack.

What are the hiking conditions like in on the Donjek Route? 

Hiking varies wildly over the 12 day trip.  From well worn dirt paths, to bushwhacking, river crossing, to tundra hiking without any trails.

What is the camping like along the Donjek Route?

Campsites are minimally developed, if at all.  There are a series of spots that we typically use with fantastic view and water sources nearby.

What is a typical day like on a trip?
A typical day starts around 7 AM with breakfast and hot drinks. While water is heating you will most likely be preparing for the day’s adventures. After breakfast we’ll get ready to hit the trail! The terrain and length of travel will vary from day to day depending on location and weather conditions. We will take frequent breaks for snacks, lunch, and to soak up the incredible scenery. At the end of the day, we will make camp along the trail and cook a nutritious and filling dinner to replenish from the day’s activities.

How do we access the Donjek Route?

We’ll travel by van from Haines, across the Canadian border, and about a 5 hour drive to the trailhead near Burwash Landing, Yukon Territory.  We’ll stop at the trail center in Haines Junction along with way to register with the Park Service.

What type of food will we eat on the trail? Can you handle special dietary needs?
A tasty, nutritious, and balanced menu is essential for any expedition. AMGCSI understands the importance of food and how it can directly affect group spirits. We are accustomed to accommodating different dietary restrictions and preferences. Our food plan ensures scrumptious and healthy food on a daily basis while not overloading our backs.

How difficult will this trip be? What physical fitness level do I need for this trip?
The Donjek Route is one of the more challenging backpacking trips offered by AMGCSI and participants should be in good physical shape. Participants should feel confident in their ability to carry a loaded pack for several hours on uneven terrain. We are happy to recommend an exercise regimen to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip Documents:
  • Trip Itinerary” – Printable detailed trip itinerary.
  • Equipment List – Overview of personal clothing and equipment that you’ll need for this trip
  • Rental Gear List – List of gear and personal items available for rent
  • Registration Form  – Outlines policies, and essential information.  One required per participant
  • Health Form – This form enables our guides to have accurate health information in the event of an emergency
  • Liability Waiver  – One required per participant over the age of 18
  • Travel Info – Helpful information on how to get to/from Haines, Alaska
Price: $2250 (+ tax, in USD)
2018 Dates: Jun 15 - Sept 30
2019 Dates: Jun 15 - Sept 30

What is included in the trip price:
  • Camping gear – group camping equipment, tents, stoves, etc…
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field
  • Transportation during trip – travel to and from the starting location
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for exploring wild places
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”
  • Food & lodging in town – there are a variety of lodging and restaurant options in Haines
  • Trip insurance – we highly recommend trip insurance for all of our programs
  • Airfare – review the “Travel Information” under “Documents” for more details
  • Reviewing trip policies – please reference our policies page for policies regarding payment, cancellations, refunds and guest responsibilities.
  • Gratuities
To Book your adventure, follow the steps below:
  1. Please call to confirm availability at 1-800-766-3396 or fill out an online form to request more information via this link:
  2. Place a $250 deposit to reserve your spot: this can be place over the phone by credit card, check in the mail, or through our payment gateway.
  3. Once you’ve reserved your spot, you’ll receive a welcome packet with all the necessary registration forms and trip information.
  4. We kindly ask that you submit all of the necessary trip registration information at least 45 days prior to your trip.

Feel free to call or email anytime if you have questions about your upcoming trip. Our team is excited to help you prepare for your adventure!

Guest Comments:

One of a kind adventure! It was a challenging day, but an incredible experience I'll remember forever. John was a great guide; personable and always safety conscious.
- Roger P.