Mount Logan, at 19,850 feet, reigns as Canada’s highest peak and the second highest peak in North America. Measured by its base circumference, it is the most massive mountain in the world. It is twenty-five miles long and rises more than two miles above its surroundings. The mountain was named after Sir William Logan, founder of the Geological Survey of Canada.
Our ascent will be via the King Trench Route. This is the easiest way to the summit, but every bit the match of Denali’s West Buttress. The climb starts at 9,000 feet and is a 16-mile journey to the summit. We will take three weeks round trip from Anchorage climbing the mountain expedition style in an incredible arctic environment.
The climb is not considered highly technical in a mountaineering sense. There is no rock climbing or steep ice. The entire climb involves roped glacier travel even though the lower sections of the route are quite gentle. The environment presents challenges related to glacier travel, weather, temperature extremes and high altitude. A steady and gradual ascent is undertaken with emphasis on proper acclimatization for all team members.
Expedition members must have previous glacier experience and be familiar with various snow and ice techniques including: self arrest, cramponing, roped glacier travel, and crevasse rescue systems. Completion of 5-6 day mountaineering training seminar such as the IMG Mt. Rainier Glacier Skills Seminar and Summit Climb or an IMG North Cascades Seminar, or equivalent formal mountaineering instruction is required for team membership. In addition, members must have cold weather camping experience. A previous expedition or extended cold weather trip is strongly recommended.
Mt. Logan is very much a ski mountaineer’s mountain. The long, gentle approach to King Col, and the normally smooth, good snow conditions make it infinitely easier on skis. Participants should be strong intermediate to advanced skiers, but a good solid snowplow will get you down most of the terrain on the mountain. The summit day is a long distance at elevations over 17,000 feet. Skis make the summit much more attainable. For climbers who can ski but have not done any “off-piste” or backcountry skiing with packs, specific lessons and winter training sessions are highly recommended. IMG will be happy to help set up suitable training with our staff or recommend other programs nearer to you. For those team members who do not have the proper ski expertise, snowshoes will be allowed. A separate rope for snowshoers only will be led by one of the guides.
Applicants must also consider their physical conditioning. The combination of fierce weather, high altitude and heavy loads (50 lbs. plus) require being in great shape and good health. A training program emphasizing cardiovascular fitness will help insure the best possible trip for you and increase your value to the team. Work your legs and lungs with exercises including: climbing, hiking, running, cycling, weight training and skiing. Climbing up and down stairs, stadiums and steep hills with a heavy pack are particularly helpful. See a more detailed description of the recommended training in IMG’s Mt. Logan FAQ.
Ultima Thule Outfitters operating out of their lodge on the Chitina River provide air support. Paul Claus, second-generation bush pilot, is the best in the entire region. Ultima Thule will transport us by auto from Anchorage to Chitina, a five-hour journey across Alaska. From Chitina we will be flown into the Ultima Thule Lodge, a 45-minute trip along the Chitina River. We will spot sheep and perhaps even moose and bison on the flight. The group will spend the night at the lodge, and then prepare for the final hour-long flight to the Canadian border at our Mount Logan base camp at approximately 9,000 feet. There are few more spectacular flights in the world. The Ultima Thule fee is possibly higher than other bush pilots charge, but consider this: The weather on the U.S. side of the border is normally much better than flying in from Kluane Lake. Less days are spent waiting to fly in and off the mountain. Paul Claus flies a Turbo Otter and can normally fit the entire group and gear in on one flight, thus limiting potential separation of the group. Factor in a week less on your trip, and consider the savings. Ultima Thule is worth their fee.
Please carefully review the recommended gear list and keep in mind there is no perfect list of equipment for as extended and involved a trip as this. Pre-trip planning is a major part of the expedition learning experience. It is very important to have functional gear with which you are familiar. Get out, practice with and use the gear that you plan to bring as much as possible prior to the trip.
|Day 1||The group will meet in Anchorage on the afternoon of the starting date of the expedition. Arrangements will be made for us to spend the night at a local bed and breakfast (name and location to be announced). The cost of this will be up to each individual, and will be in the range of $60-$100. We will meet at the bed and breakfast as our flight arrivals permit. The evening will be the last opportunity to pick up additional food items or gear for the trip. There are two climbing stores nearby, REI and Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking.|
|Day 2||Early breakfast and departure for Chitina. Transportation to Chitina will be prearranged and will cost each individual approximately $350 round trip. The drive to Chitina is spectacular and takes about 5 hours with a lunch stop on the way. At the Chitina airstrip, the bush pilot will pick us up and may shuttle us to his wilderness lodge, about 45 minutes flying time up the Chitina River. The night will be spent in tents at the lodge and we will be provided with dinner and breakfast. The other option is to be flown straight on to the glacier the first day. This will be solely at the bush pilot’s discretion.|
|Day 3||Weather permitting, we will fly to our landing site on the American side of the border on the Quintino Sella Glacier (8,400′) and establish a Base Camp. We’ll do a single carry to C1. A six and a half hour, night-schedule haul on lower angle glacier to the Entrance of the King’s Trench. A long heavy day but doable for everyone.|
|Day 4||Single carry up from C1 to the first major hill in the route and cache a load. Continue to C2 up the King’s Trench. Place camp on the climbers left side of the valley to avoid serac avalanches.|
|Day 5||Drop down to pick up cache.|
|Day 6||Rest day, C2.|
|Day 7||Carry the 4.5 kilometers to C 3 (13,400′), just below King Col. Drop cache, start building camp, then return to C2.|
|Day 8||Move to C3 at King Col.|
|Day 9||Rest at C3. Cache skis here if members are unable to downhill ski and sideslip backcountry conditions in a fixed heel alpine set up with a heavy pack and no sled. If not continue on snowshoes.|
|Day 10||Carry to 15,300 feet. From King Col head up the McCarthy Gap, a 1,500-foot high slope with angles of up to 45 degrees. The slope out of King Col is the steepest pitch of the climb; this does not involve technical climbing. Make a cache at Camp 4, prep the camp walls, and return to King Col.|
|Day 11||Move to C4 on the Football Field.|
|Day 12||Rest and acclimatize. Finish the camp walls.|
|Day 13||Carry to Prospector’s Col at 18,000 feet and leave a cache. Return to C4. A tough day at altitude.|
|Day 14||Move to Camp 5 on the summit plateau. We’ll grab 5 days of food at Prospector’s Col along the way before descending to camp on the great ice plateau. This is incredibly committing. Every individual needs to have perfect acclimatization. Deterioration in any member’s condition once crossing over could be serious. An individual with acute AMS would have to travel 3+ Km and ascend 1200ft+ in order to evacuate. This is the most important camp on the mountain to protect with full walls. The expectation of all team members is to work and make camp first then evaluate time and energy for a summit bid. If we are expecting to be hit by bad weather or are waiting out a low pressure system, double row walls are recommended. 50-100mph winds are commonplace.|
|Day 15||Rest day at camp, and finish fortifying the walls.|
|Day 16-20||Possible summit days. It is a long, high altitude walk of 3 – 4 miles to the summit from high camp. It is not difficult terrain, but a very demanding day of 9-11 hours. Return to camp 5.|
|Day 21||Climb back over Prospector’s Col and descend to C4.|
|Day 22||Rest at C4|
|Day 23||Descend to C2 or Lower|
|Day 24||Travel to the US landing site. We’ll collect caches along the way. At Camp 2 we’ll switch back to night schedule for the lower-elevation travel to the landing site and food cache.|
|Day 25||Fly to Chitna, travel to Anchorage with a late evening arrival. Evening flight home if possible.|