St. Elias Alpine Guides Climb Mt. Bona!

st elias mountain viewsIn one of our guides’ favorite traditions, the 2016 pre-season trip saw twelve returners tackle an expedition up Mt. Bona, the fourth highest peak in the United States. Mt. Bona, which the Duke of the Abruzzi legendarily named after his favorite yacht, sits in the Saint Elias Range at 16,421ft. Bona is blanketed in snow and glaciers, and its elevation makes it an ideal peak for honing mountaineering skills all season long. One of the more remote Alaska high peaks, the guides at St. Elias Alpine Guides thought it would be the perfect challenge to tackle before officially opening for the 2016 season.

alaska ski mountaineering

On Day 1, two trips in a ski plane transported the crew out to a plateau at 9,500’, and the guides roped up in teams of skiers, splitboarders and snowshoers before descending down towards the Klutlan Glacier and then back up towards basecamp at 10,000’. Dragging sleds, they carried food and fuel and equipment to spend 2 weeks on the mountain. The next day, the crew divided as some carried six days worth of food up to cache at Camp 1 (12,200’) while others remained at basecamp, generating water with snow and trash bags, and perfecting a five foot deep snow kitchen, complete with hobbit hole. On Day 3, the group ascended past a tremendous ice fall up to Camp 1, and then on Day 4 traveled the remaining distance to High Camp, at 14,500’. High Camp was nestled in a valley between Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill (15,636’), as well as a smaller peak the guides affectionately call Lil’ Bona.

climbers on alaska summit

Over the next three days at High Camp, battling intermittent white outs and mild altitude sickness, seven guides summited Mt. Bona unroped, four skied to the top of Mt. Churchill and three jaunted up to Lil’ Bona. On Day 8, one rope team set off down towards basecamp while two others took advantage of the great weather that morning to summit Bona and Lil’ Bona, respectively, before hauling themselves down to basecamp. This last Bona summit is the only one that produced any good pictures, so we’re all glad they decided to do it, even though it doubled their vertical travel to 8,000’ in one day. A blizzard kept the crew in basecamp for most of Day 9, but they took advantage of a brief sunny window that evening to pack up camp and hustle back to where the plane had dropped them off the week before.

alaska mountaineering camp

Continuing stormy weather on Day 10 gave everyone a chance to finish the books they’d packed, play card games (Scott was the clear winner), and rest their tired legs. The clouds cleared way on Day 11, allowing for a rousing game of “Snow Bocce Ball”, and giving the pilot a chance to swoop in and bring the distinctly stinkier guides back to McCarthy. Thankfully, now, everyone has had a chance to sauna and reacclimate, and is excited to bring the same sense of adventure to everyone visiting Wrangell-St. Elias! If you haven’t made your summer vacation plans yet, don’t hesitate to give us a call for the adventure of a lifetime!

ski bush plane mountaineering trip

If Mt. Bona sounds interesting to you, we’ve got a trip scheduled for July 1 – July 13. Call for details!

Posted in Spotlight on Adventure

Joyous Final Summit!

We heard from the team last night and they reported two summits yesterday – My memory may not be 100%, but I believe that Scott, Sarah and Anya summited “Little Bona”, and Chris “Topher” & Kelly summited the main peak.

Then today we got this dispatch (below), from Scott, Robin and Chris H from the main summit, and super happy about it!

Sounds like another crew, I believe including Bryan and a couple others, also climbed “Little Bona” today.

A few of the crew didn’t get any summits (they were suffering a bit from the altitude) but they enjoyed the views from high camp and got some nice ski touring in.

They are all heading down today to be picked up in a couple of days.

Nice work gang!

Joyous Final Summit Dispatch

alaska mt bear summit

Posted in Trip Dispatches

More summits from the team!

We got another fun dispatch from our team this afternoon, announcing a solo summit of Mt. Bona by Max as well as a summit of Mt. Churchill by Scott, Sarah and Anya. Nice work guys!

Bona and Churchill Summit Update

university peak in alaska

Posted in Trip Dispatches

Sat Phone Update from Mt. Bona

We got a call from high on Mt. Bona yesterday evening. A team of four of our strongest skiers and climbers reached the summit as a blizzard blew in, and another team was turned around by winds before getting there. They are all back at their high camp, waiting out the storm before making another attempt and/or heading across the saddle to Mt. Churchill. Listen to lead guide Scott’s dispatch by clicking below:

Mt Bona Dispatch 5-16-16

mt bona alaska summit

Posted in Trip Dispatches

Wilderness Cookin’ – Backcountry Boboli Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza for dinner? This delicious recipe has been mastered by 30-year mountain guiding veteran, Dave Staeheli. It’s been a crowd-pleaser over the years, and is perfect for a base camp or rafting trip (or a backpacking trip if you don’t mind the extra weight). From our experience, it’s well worth the extra ounces!

Ingredients:  (per serving)

  • ⅔ of a Boboli Pizza crust

  • Pizza sauce (usually comes in a package with the crust)

  • 20 Pepperoni slices

  • ⅓ to ½ cup shredded mozzarella

  • Dried mushrooms (optional)

  • Canned chunk pineapple (optional)


Cut the Boboli into thirds for a 12″ frying pan. Over a stove, warm both sides of a Boboli slice in the pan. Then, lay out the pepperoni slices in the pan in the shape of the pizza slice. Layer the cheese on top and put the Bobloli slice on top of that. Cook until the cheese has melted. Flip over and add any additional items (rehydrated mushrooms, pineapple) and flip back over. Cook for a few minutes before flipping it back upright again. Add sauce and serve.

Bon Appetit!

backpacking mountaineering cooking

Posted in Wilderness Cookin'