— Mt. Blackburn Expedition —

The Details

  • Elevation: 16,390′
  • Expedition Length: 12 days climbing, 15 days in Alaska
  • Total Mileage: 14mi
  • Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 8,000’
  • Max Group Size: 6
  • Difficulty: Alaska Grade 2+
  • Rates:
    • Private Solo – $19,900
    • Private 2 Participants – $12,250/person
    • Group – $8,380/person
  • Group Expedition Dates:
    May 2-13, 2023
    Private Trips with custom dates may be available.
  • Trip Itinerary / Download PDF
  • Equipment List 
  • Photo Gallery

Mt. Blackburn is a spectacular climb. After staring at it from the Kennicott Valley for so many years, to stand on top of it was an incredible experience. Blackburn has everything you could ask for in a climb. Altitude, route-finding through crazy seracs, cool ridge Read More >

Matt Vial Mountaineering GM, St. Elias Alpine Guides

Climb the King of the Wrangell Mountains!

Towering over the Wrangell Mountains with irresistible allure, Mt. Blackburn (16,390ft) is the tallest peak in the remote Wrangell Mountain range and the 5th tallest peak in the US! Since the true summit was reached in 1958, less than 50 parties have climbed the mountain. The wild nature of the route challenges climbers with exposure, steep snow and ice, wicked storms, over 8,000 vertical feet of climbing, and extended pushes with limited space for camping on the high, thin, and exposed ridge. A feat of epic proportions, a successful ascent rewards climbers with some of the longest views in the state and the serious bragging rights at having tackled this untamed heavyweight of Alaska big-mountain climbing.

Trip Highlights:

  • Most successful commercial ascents in history
  • Wilderness-style climbing tests experienced mountaineers
  • Complex Alaskan expedition logistics made easy
  • High latitude means stronger effects of high altitude
  • Great preparation for Amadablam or Manaslu

What’s Included?

  • Van transportation to and from Anchorage
  • Lodging in our historic  bunkrooms
  • Two 25min scenic bush flights to and from the St. Elias Mountains
  • An orientation day at headquarters and group packing
  • Your professional guide(s)
  • All the food on the expedition and in McCarthy
  • Group gear (ropes, cookware, fuel, tents, etc)

We highly recommend you bring as much of your own technical equipment as possible so you can learn how to use it and become more familiar with it

What’s not Included?

  • Gratuities
  • Personal camping and technical gear (see Equipment List)
  • Trip Insurance

Requirements

The more climbing experience you have prior to climbing Mt. Blackburn, the more comfortable and safe you will be, and the better chance you will have of summiting. This is an advanced climb that requires a dedicated training regime. The mountain is too severe to be learning some skills for the first time. The following is required of every climber:

  • All climbers are required to submit a climbing resume
  • Several steep mountaineering climbs that required roped glacier travel, extended winter snow camping, and the extensive use of an ice axe and crampons in exposed locations
    • Some examples include – Mt. Bona, Mt. Bear, Casaval Ridge route on Mt. Shasta, West Buttress route on Denali, Ptarmigan Ridge route on Mt. Rainier, Cho Oyu
  • Familiarity climbing knots, rope handling, and belaying
  • Extensive preparatory training and excellent fitness are required

Logistics

Easy peasy! This trip is run as a Trip Package so logistics are included and taken care of! You’ll get picked up in Anchorage and brought to McCarthy where you can stay at our historic HQ bunkrooms, sleeping on the same bunks that held many of the first explorers of this Park! Food is included and provided by your guides while in McCarthy and out in the backcountry. Upon return, your guide will stoke up the sauna for you and tuck you into bed in the bunkrooms again, providing a ride back to Anchorage the next morning. Upgrades to more comfortable lodging or transport logistics are available.

Itinerary

The following is a sample itinerary for this trip. Due to individual abilities and goals, as well as the strong environment swings of Alaska, all of our trips are customized as they unfold. Your guide will fluidly make decisions based on weather, conditions, logistics, safety, and group dynamics to maximize each day’s experience. There can be quite a bit of variation, but we always strive to make every trip your best ever!

Sat, April 29th: Arrive in Anchorage and spend the night. (You will arrange this part)

Sun, April 30th: Our van picks you up in Anchorage and drives you 8hrs East to McCarthy. Meet your guides and enjoy dinner together. Complimentary lodging in the rustic bunkrooms of our historic Powerhouse building. (Upgrades to flights or more comfortable accommodations may be available.)

Mon, May 1st: This day is devoted to packing, planning and training in our indoor facilities. This is the time to go over all your gear with your guide and do some last minute training on crevasse rescue and other skills.

Sat, May 2nd: Fly out directly North, passing over the striated Kennicott Glacier and the endless icefalls making up the skyline. Landing at about 7,000’ on the Nabesna Icefield, you’ll set up your basecamp and make your plan to start the ascent tomorrow.

Navigating up a crevasse-ridden glacier, you’ll gain the NW ridge of Mt. Blackburn at 9,800′ and set up the Ridge Camp there. The next section of climbing to 13,000′ is heavily featured and ever-changing as ferocious winds carve away at the ridge of the vast massif. Requiring steep snow climbing with exposure, this is the most technically challenging portion of the climb! You’ll make an intermediary camp in this zone before reaching your highest camp at 13,500′. The summit is still 3,000′ and 2mi away, but the terrain here is the easiest so far, gentle slopes to the top! This summit push requires a lot of energy and a solid weather window as you are quite exposed, so extra days are built-in for weather, acclimatization, and rest. 

Reverse the route for the descent and make your way back to your basecamp.

Sat, May 13th: Today you’ll pack up your gear and get ready to fly back to McCarthy, passing over the shoulder of the mountain giant you were just standing on top of! Enjoy a hot sauna and a cold beverage before tucking into bed up in the bunkrooms again. (Let us know if you’re interested in upgrading to more comfortable lodging.)Sun, May 14th: Load into the van in the morning and begin the drive back to Anchorage. We recommend planning to spend this night in Anchorage before flying home the next morning – this gives you a buffer in your itinerary for any unexpected delays. (Let us know if you’re interested in upgrading to a bush flight from McCarthy to Anchorage.)

 

Get in Touch!

Want to book a Private Trip or not sure if this is the right trip for you? Schedule a call with our Expedition Coordinator  – she’ll help you narrow down which trip is best for you and answer any questions you have about our trips, the local area, or surrounding logistics!
CLICK HERE to schedule a call at a time that works well for you.

“A fantastic experience — wild Alaska at its best!”

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