Sea Kayaking & Mountaineering

This spectacular trip combines climbing and trekking in the mountains and ice fields surrounding Haines & Skagway with sea kayaking in the fjords and inland waterways of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Trip Photos

  • Climb summits in Alaska Climb summits in Alaska
  • Paddling outside of Haines, AK Paddling outside of Haines, AK
  • Cresting the summit ridge outside of Haines Cresting the summit ridge outside of Haines
  • Paddling along the Chilkat Peninsula, Haines Paddling along the Chilkat Peninsula, Haines
  • Enjoying a sunset on the glacier Enjoying a sunset on the glacier
  • Camped along the Chilkat Inlet Camped along the Chilkat Inlet
  • Early season mountaineering outside of Skagway Early season mountaineering outside of Skagway

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Haines, AK
Destination: Mountains & Fjords of SE Alaska
Duration: 11 days
Price: $2450 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Multi-Sport
Season: April, May, June, July, August, September
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 6
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

We’ll paddle, climb and explore amidst some of the most striking landscapes in North America. The goal is to learn new skills and play along the way! The mountaineering portion of this trip is patterned after our 5-Day Program. It provides a solid introduction to safe mountaineering, and outstanding summit climbs!
No previous experience is necessary to participate in this program. Any experience that you have will allow you to progress more quickly to advanced skills. Small groups and low instructor/student ratios make it possible to meet individual expectations.

Paddling through the diverse seascapes of giant fjords, the group will meander by jagged cliffs and rocky shores, enjoy sandy beaches, and explore grassy estuaries, and uninhabited islands. We’ll learn first hand about paddling in wind and waves, the effects of tides and currents, and safe techniques for surf launches and landings. Also included will be instruction on navigation and route finding, self and assisted rescues, surfing, sailing, braces, and even the option to try rolling the kayak (dry suits will be provided). Fun and learning by day followed by camping (minimum impact) and laughter around the fire at night!

A typical day on an Alaska mountaineering course may include an alpine start for a summit attempt of an unclimbed peak, vertical ice climbing on seracs or rappelling technique review on a nearby nunatak. Our guides provide professional skill instruction and time-tested progressions alongside a series of exciting summit climbs. You’ll have a chance to pick your way through through a crevassed icefall, ascend a rocky ridge with the clouds beneath your feet and dig a snow pit profile to assess the avalanche danger. You will learn techniques to keep your team moving efficiently up a steep snow slope, how to rescue your partner out of a crevasse and the best ways to teach navigation technique in a whiteout to your fellow students. With the support of your instructors you’ll practice emergency response scenarios and have ample opportunities to step into a leadership role in the mountains.

HAINES: Haines, Alaska is the starting/finishing place for this course. Haines is a small community located along the majestic fjords at the top of the Inside Passage. The natural beauty and wilderness access in Haines have given it the much-deserved reputation as a center for wilderness adventure in Southern Alaska.

GETTING TO THE MOUNTAINS: Depending on weather and route conditions a variety of modes for transportation are available. We utilize ski planes, snowcats, 4 wheel drive vehicles and sea worthy boats to ensure that travel into the mountains is safe and efficient. Some areas are accessible via paved road.

THE MOUNTAINS: The Haines area is adjacent to 27 million acres that comprise the largest protected wilderness area on the planet. It is a heavily glaciated landscape containing several of the largest non-polar ice caps in the world. This terrain is uniquely suited to learning mountaineering skills, and the climbing here is truly spectacular!

SEA KAYAKING: Our sea kayaking programs are based in Haines. They focus on quality paddling time, and allow us to visit some of the Inside Passage’s most beautiful places.

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

Day 0: Arrive in Haines and get settled in time for a pre-trip meeting at 6:00pm. We’ll go over your personal equipment and answer any questions that you might have.

Day 1: We’ll depart Haines in the morning, head to the mountains and establish base camp. Guides will cover tactics for establishing camp in a winter environment and assist guests in setting up their tents. In the afternoon we’ll start covering some introductory skills such as knots and roping up.

Days 2-4: We’ll spend the second day setting a foundation of skills tailored to expedition climbing, this includes belaying skills, moving efficiently on a rope team, self-arrest in a fall, and other essential skills.

Day 5: We’ll put our newly learned skills to the test in ascending a nearby objective before we return to the trailhead. You’ll leave this course feeling new found confidence in your ability to contribute to a mountaineering trip! Spend the night in Haines and rest up!

Day 6: Rest and relax in the morning before meeting with your guide your kayaking pre-trip orientation. Lodging and meals on your own.

Day 7: We’ll launch along the Chilkat Peninsula and paddle throughout the day, stopping for lunch along one of the beaches within Chilkat State Park. We will most likely establish camp on a gravelly beach, where we will fall asleep to the sounds of waves lapping against the pebble shore.

Days 8 – 10: Explore the Lynn Canal by kayak and on foot. Keep your camera ready for dramatic scenery of awe-inspiring mountain peaks and wildlife that may include brown bears, mountain goats, humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, and a variety of sea birds. A flexible itinerary allows for fabulous hikes and serene paddles.

Day 11: Following a morning hike or paddle, we will meet up with our transportation and head into Haines. Plan to leave from here the next day.

What wildlife will we see?
A multitude of avian species occupy the Upper Lynn Canal. Depending upon the season, marbled murrelets, scoters, pigeon guillemots, Harlequin ducks, bald eagles, and Arctic terns are commonly spotted in and along the fjord.

Marine mammals such as humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, harbor seals, and river otters are frequently seen in the Chilkat Inlet. While it is possible to see orca or minke whales in any of the waters around Haines, humpbacks are far more common.

On land we may catch a glimpse of a moose traveling through the marshlands, brown bears roaming the shoreline, or mountain goats high above treeline. Though rare, it is possible to see wolves on shore from time to time.

What is the weather like in Southeast Alaska? What are the best months to go?
Weather in Southeast Alaska is often associated cool temperatures and frequent rain fall. May and June offer the least average rain fall of any months, with July and August precipitation steadily increasing up to the rather wet September and October. Daytime temps are typically in the 50’s and 60’s.

Will I be paddling in a tandem or solo kayak?
Tandem (double) kayaks are more stable and the preferred method of paddling for all of our guests. If you have extensive experience, and skilled with self-rescue techniques and comfort with paddling a solo kayak, we are happy to consider making this option available to you.

What is the Camping like? Are there any facilities?
Campsites are often in the intertidal zone, on sand or small rocks and gravel. Chilkat State Park has a network of trails developed along the peninsula, the conditions on which become more rugged the further we paddle away from Haines. Disposing of waste happens in the intertidal zone (beaches) according to LNT practices. Guides will choose the campsite based on conditions. You may find yourself camped on a beach with breathtaking vistas of the nearby Davidson and Rainbow Glaciers, or in a small protected cove. Most sites offer plenty of room to explore and flat, well-drained sites for tents.

What is a typical day like on a trip?
Each evening we will discuss the following day’s plan. The route for the day will dictate your wake up time. The guides will greet you for drinks and breakfast, and you can begin to pack up your personal belongings. After breakfast, we will break camp, pack the kayaks, and depart for the day’s paddle. We may stop to check out certain places on shore, or float around and view wildlife or glaciers in one spot for a while. We will stop for lunch, and continue on to our next camp. Sometimes we may scout for camps, and keep paddling due to bear activity or site occupants.

How close do we get to glaciers?
While on the water we’ll have several great viewpoints of the hanging Rainbow Glacier and the Davidson Glacier, which are just a few miles inland. It is possible to add in a short hike to see the Davidson Glacier up close, feel free to express interest in this optional hike to your guide!

How much paddling will we do each day?
The desires of the group largely control how much paddling is done. We will typically move camp every night paddling about 3-5 hours on the water per day.

What type of food will we eat on kayak trips? Can you handle special dietary needs?
Although we use NO freeze-dried or pre-prepared meals, you can expect to each eat meals with bases such as rice, pasta, and other grains on a nightly basis. Fresh vegetables are served on most days, and canned or smoked meats and fish add a great source of protein. Meals will be very similar to what you would cook at home, and we definitely aim to please with interested and varied menus and good presentation. We are also happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions and preferences.

Do I need previous kayaking experience for this trip?
No previous kayaking experience is required, but different trips may require varying levels of fitness. We can suggest a trip to best fit your experience and fitness level, and make every accommodation for you to have a successful and rewarding trip. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns over fitness levels needed for our trips.

How difficult will this trip be? What physical fitness level do I need for this trip?
Physical conditioning before your trip will increase your enjoyment. You must be prepared to help carry personal and group gear as well as your kayak (about 65-80 pounds among four people) up and down the beach. The terrain is uneven and may be slippery. If you don’t normally follow a fitness or exercise regime, we recommend beginning one now. Incorporate activities that build up arm and core strength and flexibility. In paddling, it is more important to be able to maintain a steady pace than it is to have a powerful stroke.

What does a typical day mountaineering look like?
A typical day starts around 7am with breakfast and hot drinks. If a summit attempt is planned, you may find yourself awake just before sunrise. While water is heating, you will most likely be preparing for the days’ adventures.
The day’s activities will vary depending on weather, location, and progression of the course. We may work on developing your technical skills set, learn about different leadership styles, or get an alpine start and climb a large peak in the area. Regardless of the day’s activities, it will be full of learning and adventure.
The day will finish with a debrief session where we’ll discuss the day’s events, what you have learned, and how you’ll be able to use your newfound skills in the near future.

What will we have for lunch during the day?
Typically we’ll pack a lunch for everyone that they can fit easily in their backpack. This usually includes a bagel sandwich, piece of fruit, and a variety of snack items to munch on throughout the day. We may end up eating lunch as a rest stop to our target line, or on the top of a ridge on a beautiful day.

What will dinner look like? Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Dinner could be anything from a Thanksgiving feast, to pasta, to backcountry pizza. Although we use NO freeze-dried or pre-prepared meals, you can expect to each eat meals with bases such as rice, pasta, and other grains on a nightly basis. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be had most days, and canned and smoked meats and fish add a great source of protein. Meals will be very similar to what you would cook at home, and we definitely aim to please with interested and varied menus and good presentation. We can happily accommodate a reasonable amount of dietary restrictions, such as gluten free or diary-free. Please let us know any restrictions before arrival.

What do we do on poor weather days?
Generally, we’ll wake up every morning, ready to climb. After assessing the weather, we may consider reversing slightly from our state of readiness depending on the weather. If the conditions are less than ideal, we may spend time around the camp learning about snow pack, rescue techniques, and mountaineering equipment function and repair.

Where will we be sleeping during the course?
We will be based in the backcountry, and will establish a base camp from which we can access the incredible mountaineering terrain located around Haines, Alaska. Alaska Mountain Guides provides tents, cooking equipment, etc., and has equipment such as sleeping bags for rent.

What is the group size like?
Your group size may be as small as 3, and may be as large as 8 climbers and 2 guides. We always strive to have at least 2 guides with the group when out in the backcountry. We are happy to arrange for smaller or larger groups on a custom basis.

Price: $2450 (+ tax, in USD)
2020 Dates: Please call for availability
2021 Dates: Please call for availability

What is included in the trip price:
  • Kayaking, mountaineering & camping gear – group camping equipment, tents, kayaks, paddles, PFDs, ice axes, crampons etc…
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field.
  • Transportation during trip – travel to our launch area, boat transfers, to/from airport, etc.
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for kayaking and climbing in wild places.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”.
  • Food & Lodging in town – we would be happy to recommend lodging 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.