In late April, I went to Alaska to guide a 6 day ski mountaineering trip with partner company Wild Alpine. The Don Sheldon Mountain House in Denali National Park, built by the famous glacier pilot himself, is one of the world’s most spectacular huts — a six sided structure with a central wood stove, perched on a rock outcrop between two glaciers in the Ruth Gorge.
Anyone who has spent time in the Alaska Range associates this magical land of incomprehensible scale and spectacular scenery with some degree of suffering: cold, wind, snow, ice, intense sun, monster packs, big sleds, cold, being tent bound for days on end, digging, more digging, cold, hunching over a loud stove for hours on end (melting snow), freeze dried meals, hypoxia, cold, and so on.
The Mountain House is everything that’s brilliant about the Alaska Range, minus the suffering. You go out touring with a light day pack, surrounded by legendary peaks like Denali, Mt. Barille, Mt. Dickey, the Mooses Tooth, and Mt. Huntington, and at the end of the day you’re drying your gloves and skins over a wood stove, enjoying a fine meal, sipping hot chocolate, and watching shadows creep up the towering alpine walls.