Choosing an appropriate trip: Trip difficulty ratings explained.
Our trip difficulty ratings are meant to give you an approximation of the difficulty of a specific trip in relation to the other trips we offer. Keep in mind that many factors can be involved in making a trip challenging or difficult and each trip will be unique. The physical strength and/or endurance to complete the trip, the weather, fellow trip members, and less than ideal gear are a few of these factors.
It’s also good to remember that the Wrangell St. Elias is some of the most rugged and remote wilderness left in the world today. You’ll be travelling over the land in its natural form. This means loose rock, soft alpine tundra, uneven terrain, fast & cold glacial rivers, snow, beautiful blue glacial ice, thick bushes and wild animals. You’ll do all of this while wearing the same clothes for multiple days, eating while sitting on rocks, sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent, and relieving yourself outdoors in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Many people, even experienced folks, haven’t experienced wilderness to this degree. It can be humbling and awe-inspiring.
Our best advice is to lean towards the conservative side when assessing your abilities and come prepared. Good physical fitness, gear, and mental preparation can make the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a week-long “sufferfest”. If you’re not sure about what trip is right for you or how to prepare we’re happy to talk to you more and make some recommendations.
All ages and abilities welcome!
Experience: These trips are suited to just about anyone, even younger kids.
**Note – Our raft trips fall under this category because comparatively there is a minimal amount of physical effort required to complete the trips. That said factors such as the length of the trip and weather make some raft trips more suited to first time campers and rafters than others. Contact us for more information.
Gear: You’ll need most of the gear on the appropriate equipment list but many substitutions can be made. Some rental gear is available and our office staff is happy to assist you with any questions.
Fitness: The amount of physical effort required for these trips is minimal. For example our base camp trips fall into this category. A stationary camp can be set up close to where the plane drops us off and we can spend the days exploring or relaxing as you’d like from there. Though you won’t have to go far, the ability to walk (carrying your personal gear) for short distances over uneven terrain is required. We recommend that you try to do trip-specific activities two weeks to a month in advance of your trip.
Minimal experience required
Experience: Whether you’ve done the activity before or it’s your first ever trip of this kind these trips are less committing with gentler terrain. Our friendly, knowledgeable guides are there to give you a great introduction to the outdoors.
Gear: You’ll need most of the gear on the appropriate equipment list. Some rental gear is available and our office staff is happy to assist you with any questions .
Fitness: If you’re already in good shape you might consider taking some long walks with a loaded pack a couple weeks ahead of your trip. If you’re questioning your physical ability we’d recommend you start trip-specific training (ie: hiking with a loaded pack) at least a month in advance. You’ll need to be able to carry a loaded pack for about half a day over moderate terrain with stops every hour or so to rest.
Experience: These trips are ideal for folks who have some good experience but want to broaden their horizons and up the adventure factor. You might feel comfortable with 2-3 day on-trail backpacking in the Sierras but off-trail navigation and crossing glaciers is something you’d love to check out. The wild Alaskan wilderness is calling and you’ve got to see it!
Gear: You’ll need most of the gear on the appropriate equipment list. Some rental gear is available and our office staff is happy to assist you with any questions.
Fitness: These trips take you farther afield and you’ll need to be in good shape. You’ll want to be comfortable carrying a loaded pack over rough terrain for most of the day with stops every hour or so to rest. If you’re in good shape already, start preparing for your trip with trip-specific exercises (ie: skiing with a loaded pack) about a month ahead of time. If you’re not in good shape you may have to start a couple months ahead or more to build your fitness base.
For the fit & experienced
Experience: “Bring it on!” you say. These trips are for folks who have experience and a certain degree of comfort and competence with the skills required for the trip. Of course, we’ll help you brush up on rusty skills and help you learn new ones along the way. We’ll be relying on you to pull your weight as a fully participating member of the team.
Gear: You’ll need all of the gear on the appropriate equipment list. Some rental gear is available and our office staff is happy to assist you with any questions.
Fitness: You’ll need to be in good physical and mental shape. It’s likely that you already participate in the activity you’re signed up for with some frequency. If not you’ll need to start preparing mentally and physically 2-3 months ahead of the trip. Hike all day with a loaded pack in the wind and rain. Go crazy on the rowing machine! Whatever your chosen form of torture is, try to approximate the conditions you’ll experience on your trip to build your fitness & comfort level up.
Customized based on goals & ability
People like to experience the outdoors in many different ways and we’re excited to facilitate your experience. These are trips that have multiple options so we can customize the level of challenge based on what you want. Oftentimes, trips to a general area with no specific objective & courses fall into this category. Contact us today to talk about your ideas.