Alaska backpacking in the Kennicott Valley
This backpacking trip allows for maximum flexibility, with no set route but lots of options for where to go and what to see.
Sharing your time between icy glaciers, high alpine tundra, and the lush Donoho Basin, options include exploring all the nooks and crannies of the ice, scrambling high up for stellar views, checking out waterfalls and icefalls or relaxing by beautiful lakes along the way!
This trip also has the option of an Ice-Climbing Add On for the last day of the trip!
Total Elevation Gain/Loss
(This trip is highly customizable, with many route options to choose from.)
Private 2 Participant
Private 3-6 Participants
Group Trip Dates
June 4-7, 2024
Private Trips with custom dates are available. Schedule a call with our Expedition Coordinator to plan your Private Trip today!
The “Alaska Factor”There is a reason Alaska has such a rugged allure for the lower 48 and beyond: it is still wild! This raw and untamed landscape offers our clients the opportunity to authentically pioneer new territory and have real adventures. Part of embracing the “Alaska Factor” is understanding that things may not always go as planned and expecting the unexpected. Water levels might rise, snow might fall, glaciers may shift and move – the landscape is dynamic and unpredictable is what makes Alaska, Alaska! All of our trips are customized as they unfold and your guide will fluidly make decisions based on weather, logistics, and group dynamics to maximize each day’s experience. There can be quite a bit of variation, but on each trip we promise a big slice of the real Alaska and authentic adventure!
ICE CLIMBING ADD-ON
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park is home to both black bears and grizzly bears and we are honored to share our home with such majestic animals. We treat the bears with respect and do our best to maintain their wild environment and nature. The bears out here are truly very wild and have very little contact with humans – this means that they are naturally afraid of us! Yes, even grizzlies! Bears do not hunt humans and our most common bear sighting is of a bear’s butt as they run away.
Although bear sightings may be exciting, we do our best to avoid close encounters with preventative measures at camp and while hiking that our guides will share with you. Just in case of unusually close encounters, our guides carry flare guns (to scare a bear away) and pepper spray (in case of an uncomfortably close meeting). It is very uncommon to have to use either.
If you want to, you can bring your own bear spray too, however, know that your guide has one and has been trained on how to use it. With 40 years of guiding in the Park, we have found that being bear aware, taking preventative measures and the flare gun and pepper spray to be sufficient mitigations.
Please refrain from bringing firearms with you on our trips. Not only does this make our other guests and guides uncomfortable, but they are also completely unnecessary for bear safety. We know that other areas of Alaska may recommend firearms for bear safety, but we specifically recommend against them.
Likely, at some point or another, at least a little bit, yes.
On a Rafting Trip, you can help the guides unload the boats, set up camp, and carry your dry bag(s) to your tent nearby. After breakfast, you can help take down camp and load up the boats.
On a Basecamp Hiking Trip, you will need to carry your gear about 5-20min from the backcountry airstrip to set up camp at the beginning of the trip and then pack up and carry it back to the airstrip at the end. Throughout the trip you will hike with a small day pack – this is usually 5-15lbs.
On a Basecamp mini-Backpacking Trip you will need to carry all your gear between the airstrip and your camp, which will be 1-3mi away. This means at least 2 one-way trips with the big backpack (usually 30-40lbs). After setting up camp you will enjoy day-hikes with a much lighter day pack (usually 5-15lbs).
On a Backpacking Trip, you will move camp almost every night and will need to carry everything you need with you. For a trip up to 4 days in length, you can expect packs in the 35-45lb range and for trips in the 6-8 day range, please be prepared for weights closer to 45-50lbs. The burly gear that is required for the Alaskan backcountry isn’t very light so forget “ultralite” and think heavy-duty!
For all Basecamping and Backpacking Trips, the pack weight will really depend on what you bring, so we do recommend having a minimalist mindset. In addition to your own gear, we will be giving you a bear canister full of food and supplies, potentially another item like a fuel canister or a stove, and maybe a part of a tent if you’re not bringing your own (we recommend sharing tents to save weight). Your guides are weight-conscious packers and will never burden you unnecessarily. It’s likely that over the course of the trip you’ll be able to start adding your own things into the bear canister and your pack should get lighter as you eat your food and use supplies.
If you would really like to do a Point-to-Point Backpacking Trip but are concerned about the pack weight, we also offer Porter services. Porters cannot take your entire pack for you, but they can help alleviate your pack weight significantly and offer other assistance as an assistant guide on the trip.
On our objective-based Mountaineering Expeditions, you will be required to carry all your own gear and some group gear between camps. Depending on the terrain, you may bring sleds with you for all or some of the route. Depending on the route, you may do stretches of the route multiple times, caching gear as you go, so you may not always have the full weight of all your equipment with you at all times. At maximum, you can expect weights of 80-160lbs to be split between a backpack and a sled and at minimum a 30lb bag for single-day excursions.
We pride ourselves on cooking healthy and delicious meals even under the most adverse conditions! Your exact menu will depend on the trip, your guide, and the dietary preferences/restrictions you list in your Trip Application. No matter what kind of cook your guide is at home, all our guides are well-trained backcountry chefs and use time-tested recipes from our proprietary cookbook for their trips. We carry a plentiful and varied stock of ingredients and most meals are prepared from scratch (allowing for easy substitutions, additions or subtractions of ingredients). We onlyt use pre-packed freeze-dried meals on summit pushes on our mountaineering expeditions.
On our backpacking and basecamp trips, you can expect 3 meals a day, plus snacks of your choice. Breakfasts and dinners are usually hot meals and lunches are served cold. On mountaineering trips lunches consist of a variety of snacks as it can be hard to organize group meals while on a rope team.
We use a combination of fresh, dehydrated, and freeze-dried ingredients to make our delicious meals, however on longer backpacking and mountaineering trips your guides will use more freeze-dried foods than fresh foods to keep pack weights as low as possible. On our rafting trips, we cook full multi-course meals with fresh ingredients and enjoy hot and cold breakfasts, cold lunches and hot dinners.
Meals for most trips start with Lunch on the first day and end with Lunch on the last day. *
*If you are signed up for a Custom Trip Package with us, it may include more meals. Check with us if you’re not sure. Mountaineering trips also include meals in McCarthy before and after the backcountry expedition.