Utah Mountaineering

Climb over 13,000' in Great Basin National Park. This seldom visited National Park is an ideal environment to learn mountaineering and expedition skills in a remote wilderness area.

Trip Photos

  • View from the top of Wheeler Peak, 13,065' View from the top of Wheeler Peak, 13,065'
  • Simul-climbing through snow couliours and mixed terrain on Mt. Wheeler Simul-climbing through snow couliours and mixed terrain on Mt. Wheeler
  • Heading into Wheeler cirque for a day of climbing Heading into Wheeler cirque for a day of climbing
  • Climbing mixed snow and rock terrain in Baker Basin Climbing mixed snow and rock terrain in Baker Basin
  • North face of Mt. Wheeler North face of Mt. Wheeler

Trip Notes

Location: Utah
Meeting Point: Salt Lake City, UT
Destination: Great Basin National Park, NV
Duration: 7 days
Price: $1550 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Mountaineering
Season: January, February, March, April, November, December
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 5
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

Wind through the elevated terrain of Great Basin National Park, traversing high ridgelines, plunging yourself into a world of jagged peaks, bristlecone pines, and uncovering seldom-visited wilderness. 

These courses are designed for individuals seeking to learn standard mountaineering skills. We will cover ice axe and crampon use, as well as anchors, belays, navigation, and hazard/risk assessment. With seven days, mountaineers-in-training will receive additional instruction on rope team travel, avalanche awareness, and additional experiential training with possible climbs of select objectives to practice the acquired skills. No experience is necessary. Alaska Mountain Guides mountaineering courses are designed to expose individuals to mountaineering in a safe and comfortable environment that stresses education and experience, providing the skills to safely navigate moderate mountaineering terrain.

Great Basin National Park offers visitors a wilderness experience, especially during the winter and shoulder seasons.  Moderate elevation, technical terrain, and windswept ridges make for a unique Lower 48 “big mountain” feel.

Our philosophy is one of learn by doing. This course allows the practical application of your new skills. Small groups and a low participant to instructor ratio give us the flexibility to accommodate individual goals and expectations.

SALT LAKE CITY: Salt Lake City, Utah is the starting/finishing place for this trip. With easy access via commercial flights, several ski resorts within a short drive and a city filled with places to explore, you won’t lack for things to do before/after your trip.

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK: Located along the border of Nevada and Utah, Great Basin National Park offers a high, cold environment for us to find some of the best mountaineering opportunities in the area. Glaciers carved these peaks to form the cirques, like the ones found under Wheeler Peak; other glacial remnants include terminal and lateral moraines, rocky ridges created at the ice’s edge as it pushed its way down the mountain slopes. Unlike glaciers in other parts of the world, these massive hunks of ice did not dip down to the valley floors. Instead, water collected in the basins, forming lakes of tremendous size – like the Great Salt Lake.

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They are special individuals who have a passion for being in the mountain environment. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Utah, 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.

Day 0: Arrive in Salt Lake City 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 SLC in the morning, head to the mountains and establish base camp. In the afternoon we might get the chance to explore or go for a short hike, depending on timing.

Day 2 – 6: We’ll spend the next few days exploring our surroundings. The terrain is uniquely suited to mountaineering endeavors with a variety of terrain to choose, from open bowls between peaks to alpine faces. Your guide will be available to offer input on technique or teach you variations of certain mountaineering skills such as crevasse rescue. Weather permitting, there will be a summit attempt at some point throughout these days!
The Great Basin National Park hosts numerous peaks and the area is dominated by Wheeler Peak. At 13,063 feet it gives participants a big mountain feel at a moderate altitude. The steep snow slopes, rock ridges, remote wilderness and moderate altitude, experiences found in this area make it one of the best locations for developing mountaineering skills.

Day 7: We’ll make the most of our remaining time in the mountains, breakdown camp and head back to Salt Lake.

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 within Great Basin National Park. 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.

Trip Documents:
  • Equipment List – Overview of personal clothing and equipment that you’ll need for this trip.
  • Rental Gear List – List of mountaineering 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.
  • Land Based Activity Waiver  – One required per participant. Guests under the age of 18 may go on one form.
  • Travel Info – Helpful information on how to get to/from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Price: $1550 (+ tax, in USD)
2020 Dates: Oct - Mar
2021 Dates: Oct - Mar

What is included in the trip price:
  • Mountaineering & camping gear – group camping equipment, tents, ropes, stoves…
  • Required gear – ropes, ice axes, harnesses, etc…
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field.
  • Transportation during trip – travel to our trailhead area.
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for climbing in wild places.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”.
  • Food & Lodging in SLC – Salt Lake boasts a diverse selection of quality hotels and restaurants.
  • 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:

Thank you for your patience with all of my questions. Your website seems thorough and I have spent some time reviewing credentials, etc. Very impressive; quite a depth of experience. I’m glad you were recommended!
- Matt V.