From back to front, Mount Church, Mount Dickey (2909 m), Mount Grosvenor (there another Grosvenor in Alaska, too.) and Mount Johnson. Source: . Credit: Ross Fowler,  Shot on 2014-06-03 Photo taken in Alaska, United States. (c) Ross Fowler, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.
From back to front, Mount Church, Mount Dickey (2909 m), Mount Grosvenor (there another Grosvenor in Alaska, too.) and Mount Johnson. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matanuska-Susitna_Borough,_Alaska_2.jpg. Credit: Ross Fowler, Shot on 2014-06-03 Photo taken in Alaska, United States. (c) Ross Fowler, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.

About Alaska

The highest mountains of North America are located in the far north in Alaska and neighboring Yukon territory of Canada. The area is comprised of several mountain ranges. Furthest to the north lie Brooks Range. Aleutian range on the peninsula intruding far to the Bering Sea is notorious of it's horrendous weather, even on the Alaskan standards. Alaska range located in Central part is the highest and most famous of the ranges. Chugach, Wrangel and St.Elias ranges are located to the south and east of Alaska Range. The most popular climbs are found in Alaska range.

  • Brooks Range Furthest to the north lie vast Brooks Range where highest peaks rise to ~9,000' with Mount Isto (2758m) being the highest. Despite the northern location, the area has few glaciers.
  • Alaska Intermountain Ranges Ranges of Northern Alaska between Brooks Range in the north and Aleutian and Alaska ranges in the south. The ranges are lower and drier than the ranges further south. The highest peak is Mount Harper (1994m).
    • Seward Peninsula mountains
    • Nulato Hills
    • Kuskokwim Mountains
    • Yukon-Tanana Uplands
    • Ogilvie Mountians
  • Alaska Range Alaskan Range form a large arch in the central Alaska, to the north of Aleutian, Chugach, Wrangel and St. Elias ranges. It is dominated by Denali (or Mount McKinley) with it's height of 6194m. Mount Hunter, Mount Foraker and Mount Huntington, all of which are famous among the climbers, are also located in the Alaska range. Alaska range in general and Denali in particular, has one of the worst weather in the world as it locates at the collision front between warm damp Pacific air and the cold interior.
  • Aleutian Ranges 1500-mile long Aleutian range on the peninsula intruding far to the Bering Sea is notorious of it's horrendous weather, even on the Alaskan standards. Some of the peaks on Aleutian are volcanic and are part of the Ocean's Ring of Fire. Highest volcano is Redoubt (3108m) of Chigmit Range located in the easternmost part of Aleutian range. To the north of Chigmit Range lies Neacola Mountains which is the highest non-volcanic range with Mount Neacola (2873m) being the highest peak of the range.
  • South-Central Alaska Long arch of mountain ranges along the southern coast of Alaska reaching from Aleutian range in the west to St. Elias Mountain of Alaskan Panhandle in the east. peaks get gradually higher towards east where Chugach and Wrangel ranges form the highest part of South-Central ranges.
    • Talkeetna Mountains Sovereign Mountain (2697m)
    • Kenai Mountains
    • Chugach Mountains Chugach Range located on the along the Gulf of Alaska is among the snowiest places in the world with annual average of roughly 15 meters. The highest point of the Chugach Mountains is Mount Marcus Baker (3927m), but most of its summits are not especially high.
    • Wrangell Mountains Wrangell Mountains are located just to the northwest of the Saint Elias Mountains and northeast of the Chugach Mountains, both of which lie along the coast of Gulf of Alaska. The highest peak of the range is Mount Blackburn misses the 5000m mark by just a few meters (4996m).
  • Saint Elias Mountains Saint Elias Mountains mountains are located to the east of Wrangell Mountains, more or less along Alaskan panhandle on both sides of the border. Most of the range is located within Wrangell Saint Elias and Glacier Bay National Parks in Alaska, as well as the Kluane National Park in Canada's Yukon Territory. The range hosts a the greatest concentration of high peak in the North-America, topped by Mount Logan (5959m), the second highest summit of the continent.
  • Yukon Intermountain Ranges Ranges located to the east of easternmost ranges of Alaska Intermountain Ranges, Saint Elias Mountains, and Boundary Ranges of Coast Mountains.
  • Mackenzie Mountains Located to the east of Yukon Intermountain Ranges. Mackenzie Mountains is northern extension of Canadian Rockies. The highest mountain of the range is Keele Peak (2952m).

Climbing in Alaska

Alaska in general and Denali in particular, has one of the worst weather in the world as it locates at the collision front between warm damp Pacific air and the cold interior. Because of harsh weather and remoteness, climbing on Alaskan mountains is more serious than similar routes would be in more accessible ranges (this phenomenom is sometimes referred to as Alaskan factor). Alaskan mountains are excessively glaciated, so most climbing is on snow or ice. The rock quality is generally poor. Access to climbs can be very long. However, airplanes are often used which make otherwise extremely tedious approaches a breeze.

Besides alpine ascents, Alaska has also plenty of good water ice climbing, especially close Valdez in Keystone Canyon. The first major climb of the areas was the classic Keystone Green Steps (5 pitches (200m) III-IV/WI5).

Normal climbing season starts in late April. Weather is still extremely cold as temperatures can drop to -40°C in may. June and July have warmer temperatures but then the there's a risk of storms lasting for days. For climbing in Alaska, the most common access in taking a flight to Anchorage from where bases closer to mountains (such as Talkeetna) is reached by further flights.

  • United States Geologigal Survey: 63148-F8-SI-250 Denali National Park and PreserveUnited States Geologigal Survey
  • Wood, Michael & Coombs, Colby: Alaska: A Climbing Guide - A Climbing Guide. Isbn: 0-89886-724-X. Mountaineers Books, 2002.
  • Puryear, Joseph: Alaska Climbing (Super Topo), 1 Edition edition. Isbn: 9780976523505. Supertopo, 2006.
  • Waterman, Jonathan: High Alaska - A Historical Guide to Denali Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter. Isbn: 9780930410414. American Alpine Club, 1989.
  • Beckey, Fred & Sherwonit, Bill: Alaska Ascents - World-Class Mountaineers Tell Thei. Isbn: 0882404792. Alaska Northwest Books, 2007.

Brooks Range

Furthest to the north lie vast Brooks Range where highest peaks rise to ~9,000' with Mount Isto (2758m) being the highest. Despite the northern location, the area has few glaciers.

  • DeLong Mountains
  • Baird Mountains
  • Endicott Mountains
  • Davidson Mountains
  • Ray Mountains
  • Philip Smith Mountains

Alaska Range

Alaskan Range form a large arch in the central Alaska, to the north of Aleutian, Chugach, Wrangel and St. Elias ranges. It is dominated by Denali (or Mount McKinley) with it's height of 6194m. Mount Hunter, Mount Foraker and Mount Huntington, all of which are famous among the climbers, are also located in the Alaska range. Alaska range in general and Denali in particular, has one of the worst weather in the world as it locates at the collision front between warm damp Pacific air and the cold interior.

West Buttress is the easiest and most popular route on Denali, while West Rib and Cassin Ridge are more difficult classics. Sultana Ridge and Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker and West Ridge and Moonflower Buttress on Mount Hunter are other classics on big peaks. Other destinations well known among the climbers are Mount Huntington and Ruth Gogge. Climbs are typically accessed from Anchorage and Talkeetna on the south side on the range. Often the most feasible means of access involves using planes.

The ranges consists of several subgroups:

  • West Alaska Range Western part of Alaska Range consists of several compact ranges. The peaks hare are significantly lower than in the Central and Eastern parts of the range. The peaks on the other hand are perhaps the most spectacular of the range, particularly Revelation and Kichatna Mountains have very attractive sharp summits. West Alaska Range has the worst weather of Alaska Range.
  • Tordrillo Mountains Tordrillos are primarily a volcanic range, like most of the neighboring Aleutian Range. However some of the peaks, including the range highpoint of Mount Torbert (3479m) are not volcanic.
  • Central Alaska Range Central Alaska Range is home to all the highest peaks and most popular climbs. The area is dominated by dominated by Denali (or Mount McKinley) with it's height of 6194m. Mount Hunter, Mount Foraker and Mount Huntington, all of which are famous among the climbers, are also located in the Alaska range.
  • Hayes Range Range located to the east of Central Alaska Range. Best known peak inn the area is Mount Deborah (3761m), although namesake of the group, Mount Hayes, is a fair bit higher at 4216m.
  • East Alaska Range Eastern Alaska Range is lower than the central ranges. The highest peak is Mount Kimball (3155m) of Delta Range.
    • Delta Mountains
    • Meltasta Mountains
    • Nutzotin Mountains
  • Secor, R. J.: Denali Climbing Guide, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780811727174. Stackpole Books, 1998.

West Alaska Range

Western part of Alaska Range consists of several compact ranges. The peaks hare are significantly lower than in the Central and Eastern parts of the range. The peaks on the other hand are perhaps the most spectacular of the range, particularly Revelation and Kichatna Mountains have very attractive sharp summits. West Alaska Range has the worst weather of Alaska Range.

  • Revelation Mountains Revelation Mountains are a small, rugged subrange in the westernmost part of Alaska Range. The range is rarely visited due to remoteness and prevalent notoriously poor weather. The highest peak in the range is Mount Hesperus (2996m). The principal peaks of the Revelation Mountains are granite spires, rising out of relatively low-elevation glacial valleys. The high vertical relief in the Revelations makes the range a very dramatic place and also creates challenging climbing conditions, despite the low absolute elevation of the peaks.
  • Hidden Mountains
  • Terra Cotta Mountains
  • Teaocalli Mountains
  • Kichatna Mountains Very rugged and steep range, although the peaks are not very high (below 9,000'). The area has lots of steep rock routes on granite spires culminating at Kichatna Spire (2739m). Middle Tripple Peak (2693m) are the other main objectives group.

Central Alaska Range

Central Alaska Range is home to all the highest peaks and most popular climbs. The area is dominated by dominated by Denali (or Mount McKinley) with it's height of 6194m. Mount Hunter, Mount Foraker and Mount Huntington, all of which are famous among the climbers, are also located in the Alaska range.

Little Switzerland

Kahiltna glacier

Long glacier on to the west of Denali. Most visited part of Alaska range as all the most popular routes to Denali start from Kahiltna glacier. The highest peaks of Alaska Range: Denali, Foraker and Mount Hunter are all located around Kahiltna glacier.

Ruth Gorge

Next major glacier system to thew east from Kahiltna glacier. The peaks around Ruth Gorge are generally lower but steeper than those around Kahiltna glacier. The highest peak of Ruth Gorge area is Mount Huntington. Moose's Tooth, Mount Dickey, Mount Wake and Mount Barrill are the other main peaks of Ruth Gorge.

Aleutian Ranges

1500-mile long Aleutian range on the peninsula intruding far to the Bering Sea is notorious of it's horrendous weather, even on the Alaskan standards. Some of the peaks on Aleutian are volcanic and are part of the Ocean's Ring of Fire. Highest volcano is Redoubt (3108m) of Chigmit Range located in the easternmost part of Aleutian range. To the north of Chigmit Range lies Neacola Mountains which is the highest non-volcanic range with Mount Neacola (2873m) being the highest peak of the range.

Saint Elias Mountains

Saint Elias Mountains mountains are located to the east of Wrangell Mountains, more or less along Alaskan panhandle on both sides of the border. Most of the range is located within Wrangell Saint Elias and Glacier Bay National Parks in Alaska, as well as the Kluane National Park in Canada's Yukon Territory. The range hosts a the greatest concentration of high peak in the North-America, topped by Mount Logan (5959m), the second highest summit of the continent.

Access is from Whitehorse in Yukon territory, from Yakutat or from Juneau. These cities are all reachable by plane from Vancouver. Access to most of the peaks requires the use of airplanes. June and July are most popular months for climbing. Earlier in the season temperatures are even colder.

  • Northern Saint Elias Mountains
    • Northwest Saint Elias Range Located to the west of Northern Icefield Range, mostly on US side. Main peaks of the range are Mount Bona (5044m) and Mount Bear (4520m).
    • Northern Icefield Range Separated from the Southern Icefield Range by Chitina glacier - Logan Glacier - Kaskawuls glacier - Kluane lake. Main peaks are Mount Lucania (5260m), Mount Steele (5020) and Mount Wood (4860m).
    • Centennial Range Centennial Peak
    • Kluane Ranges
  • Southern Icefield Ranges Separated from the Northern Icefield Range by Chitina glacier - Logan Glacier - Kaskawuls glacier - Kluane lake. Mount Logan (5959m), Mount Saint Elias (5489m) and King Peak (5173m) are the highest peaks of the group.
  • Fairweather Range Westernmost range located on the peninsula to the north of Glacier Bay. The range lies mostly within Glacier Bay national Park. Main peaks of the range are Mount Fairweather (4671m), the highest point in British Columbia and Mount Quincy Adams (4150m).
  • Alsek Ranges Located to the east of Fairweather Range and NE of Glacier Bay. The highest peak of the range is Buckwell Peak (2721m).
  • Holmes, Richard: A Climber's Guide to the St. Elias Mountains. Isbn: 9780976398004.