Prepare yourself……for the adventure of a lifetime.

In most of life good preparation can greatly improve your experience when it comes time to doing whatever it is you’re preparing for.  Our trips are no different.  Read on to learn how to prepare yourself for the Alaskan adventure of a lifetime.

Physical Preparation

When it comes to enjoying yourself in the outdoors, especially in the remote wilderness of Wrangell St. Elias National Park, good physical conditioning is one of the cornerstones. There is no worse feeling than being on the trip of a lifetime and not being able to fully enjoy it because you’re out of shape. How much physical conditioning you do depends on your current level of fitness and the trip you’re signed up for. Unfortunately most of us are so busy that we put off our workouts until it’s too late and we arrive in Alaska wishing we’d gotten started earlier. We don’t want this to happen so here are some hints for getting into shape before your trip.

  • Create a plan – sit down and map out a plan for how you will reach your fitness goal before your trip. Keep your plan realistic to avoid frustration. Write down intermediate milestones on your calendar so you can enjoy little successes along the way.
  • Start early – Giving yourself plenty of time allows you to slowly work up to your goal. This will decrease your risk of an injury and build a solid fitness base. For many people starting training a month or more in advance is a good rule of thumb.
  • Find a partner – Working out alone can be tough. Most people find that training with a partner can help make workouts fun and can help keep you on track even when motivation to work out is low.
  • Do trip specific exercises – There is no substitute for training for an activity by doing that activity. If you can’t get out and do those activities during the week do your best. Go to the gym during the week and then hike with your pack on the weekend. Take the stairs for a change. Do pushups between phone calls. Something is better than nothing.
  • Train in the gear you’ll use on the trip – Wear the hiking boots, rain gear, base layers, sun glasses, hats, etc that you’ll wear on your trip. Not only will you get used to how it works but you’ll get to test it out and make sure you like it.
  • Get plenty of rest – Rest days are crucial for the body to recover. Going hard every day of the week with no time for rest is a recipe for injury.

Mental Preparation

Preparing yourself mentally, especially if this type of trip will be new to you, can be as important if not more important than physical fitness. A good positive attitude can make all the difference on a wilderness trip.

  • Inform yourself – If this type of trip is new to you gather all the information you can so you know what to expect. This website is a great starting point but our office staff is also more than happy to answer questions and give advice. Books and articles are also great sources of information as long as they’re from reputable sources.
  • Practice makes perfect – Practice activities that you’ll be doing on your trip until you’re proficient doing them. Experimenting with packing your backpack, taking care of your contact lenses in the tent, or tying your shoes with gloves on at home will give you one less thing to worry about when you’re on your trip.
  • Go outside in all types of weather – Let’s face it, the weather in Alaska can be downright unpredictable. Practice being outside in all types of weather. If you’ve never hiked in the rain, try it out. Not only will you get used to it and maybe even find it enjoyable, but it will give you a chance to work out the kinks in your gear.
  • Embrace the unknown – Part of coming to Alaska is the wonder and excitement that comes with exploring a new place. Practice letting yourself explore and experience life with child-like curiosity.

Prepare your Gear

Having your gear dialed in and knowing how to use it is a great way to get excited about your trip and spend less time figuring it out while you’re on vacation. Experiment with clothing, backpacks, footwear, etc at home until you find what works with you. Our gear lists tell you what you need to bring and our office staff is happy to answer questions.

  • Break in your boots – new boots and Alaska’s rough terrain don’t mix. Break in your boots at least a month prior to your trip. Wear them to work or around the house. Wearing mountaineering boots in the office can be a great conversation starter.
  • Pack your backpack – Fully pack your backpack and wear it before coming to Alaska. Experiment with ways to cut down the weight of the pack and organize things so they’re easy to find when you need them. Have the staff at your local gear shop make sure your pack fits properly.
  • Experiment with clothing combinations – layered clothing works great in Alaska’s unpredictable weather. Experiment with clothing combinations that allow you to be comfortable in a wide range of weather. Practice putting the clothing on so you can see how it works together. Go out and do trip-specific activities in the clothes you’ll be wearing so you can work out the bugs.
  • Look at your gear critically – In most cases less is more in the outdoors. Too much gear can be confusing and cumbersome and who wants to be confused and encumbered on their vacation! Think hard about how and when you will use a piece of gear and make sure it’s worth bringing. Oftentimes “just in case” items can be unnecessary and take up a lot of space.
  • Bring backups of critical items – Glasses, contact lenses, camera batteries, memory cards etc. All of these items have the potential to ruin a trip if they fail. Don’t go overboard but look over your gear and think about what you might want a backup of.

Suggested Reading List

If you’re the type of traveler who enjoys reading up on the area you’ll be visiting, here’s some suggested reading material to check out!

  • Community and Copper in a Wild Land by Shawn Olson and Ben Shaine
  • Glacier Ice by Austin Post and Ed LaChapelle
  • Mountain Wilderness by William Hunt
  • The Copper Spike by Lone Janson
  • Alaska by James Michener
  • The Best of Robert Service by Robert Service


Matt was amazing in helping to coordinate and assist in me finally getting out. I received everything I needed to make a informed decision on which trip to take. Matt responded to my inquiries in a timely manner. I had everything I needed to have Read More >

Sean L Mountaineering

Helpful Planning

We made the best decision in choosing St. Elias Alpine Guides! They were top notch; from helping plan the trip ahead of time, to preparing us in what equipment to bring and in providing an excellent guide who was both an expert and a joy Read More >

Ryan and Victoria T Hiking Root Glacier Overnight 2017

Expertly Done

The chance at a first ascent of an unclimbed peak in Alaska, to literally go where no one else has before, is one of the few true exploratory adventures left on the planet. It was a longstanding dream of mine to go on an expedition Read More >

Matt K Mountaineering First Ascents 2014

Start typing and press Enter to search