On a beautiful, panoramic Alaskan day we offer our spectacular Denali Grand Tour. View the famed North Face and the 14,000 foot high Wickersham Wall, one of the longest uninterrupted vertical rises in the world.
Alaska Air Taxi for Mountain Climbers
13 Available Mountain Locations
(different prices per Location) Starting Price
(price per person)
- Snow Shoe Rental
- Wands Pack of 25 marking wands
- White Gas Coleman White Gas - 1 gallon
Join us on an Denali National Park air taxi flight to your mountain climbing expedition in Alaska!
No one knows Denali Expedition support like Sheldon Air Service.
Bob Reeve and Don Sheldon invented it.
Our Cessna 185 can put your party into demanding and remote base camps throughout Denali and the Alaska Range. For the larger expedition we can combine our two planes for the flight for your team to begin your trek to the top together.
Simply the best: Mountaineering Denali is not trivial. You’ve planned the expedition, trained hard and invested time and equipment to ready yourself to climb the tallest mountain in North America.
Make sure the linchpin of your expedition is solid.
Contract our experienced mountaineering support air taxi service and give yourself the luxury of knowing your air logistics will be handled efficiently, on schedule, and within budget.
- GEAR STORAGE is available at the Sheldon Air Service hangar. Label you gear with your name and mailing address. We also have a safe on location to lock up your valuables, while you are on your climb.
- GEAR WEIGHT 125 pounds per person is allowed. $1.00 per pound will be charged for additional weight.
- COLEMAN FUEL (white gas) costs $25.00 per gallon. You can purchase white gas when you organize your gear at the hanger. The usual recommendation is 1½ pint per person per day, about 1 gallon per person for 21 days.
- ISOBUTENE CARTRIDGES can be flown in with prior notification to Sheldon Air Service.
- SLEDS (measuring 60″ long x 16″” wide and 5″” deep or 46″ long x 15″ wide and 4″ deep) are available at our hangar free of charge, please bring your own rigging. The Alaska Mountaineering School Mountain Shop (AMS) has rigging for sale here in Talkeetna.
- FAMILY BAND RADIOS (FRS) operate along the West Buttress Route. The Base Camp Manager issues weather reports via FRS each evening around 8:oo p.m. The NPS currently has a FRS radio at both the 7,200-foot camp and the 14,200-foot camp and monitors throughout the day. The FRS radios are popular on Denali because of the reduced weight and efficient use of batteries. There is no FRS coverage on the North side of Denali.
- CELL PHONE reception is intermittent throughout the Alaska Range. Do not rely on your cell phone as an emergency method of communication.
- INREACH SATELLITE COMMUNICATION DEVICES are a reliable source of communication and work great throughout the Alaska Range.
- IRIDIUM SATELLITE PHONES have the best coverage in high altitudes. Rentals are available in Anchorage at Satellite Phone Store.
Fly with the most experienced air taxi with the best safety record and price!
Sheldon Air Service has the experience and the aircraft to get you where you need to go in the Ruth Glacier/Don Sheldon Amphitheater area. Common landing areas include the Ruth Gorge, the Root Canal (8000 ft on the Moose’s Tooth), West Fork of the Ruth, East and West Forks of the Tokositna, Mountain House, Buckskin, Coffee and the Eldridge Glaciers. You are welcome to contact Sheldon Air Service for information on current snow and route conditions. We are happy to help climbers in any way we can to assist their adventure in the world-renowned Alaska Range!
Little Switzerland, 35 Miles south of Denali, was named by glacier pilot Don Sheldon, because of its likeness to the Swiss Alps. The main glacier there is the Pika Glacier which flows into the greater Kahiltna Glacier. An excellent place to rock climb, ski, and mixed climb from late April into late May.
The main landing area is at 5600′ above sea level. Typically climbers set up base camp 100 to 200 yards from the landing strip. Most of the peak approaches begin with a 10-30 minute hike. They include the Trolls, the Throne, Royal Tower, Crown Jewel, Dragon’s Spine and Italy’s Boot.
Several mountain passes surround the area so multiple fun day trips from base camp can be accomplished. Little Switzerland is a great alternative to the bigger peaks in the Range, or a great place to chill after a big climb. A walk in or a walk out for the adventuresome is a possibility; allow 3-4 days for the trip.
Sheldon Air Service lives and breathes family values, and we’ve been raised catering to climbers. Every climber is our priority. We do our best to help you with your itinerary including lodging, meals and transportation. Learn more information about Kahiltna Glacier Basecamp below.
Denali Summits West Ridge Kahiltna Queen West Buttress North Buttress Mt. Francis West Rib Mt. Foraker Routes Control Tower Cassin Ridge Infinite Spur Kahiltna Dome Mt. Hunter Routes Sultana Ridge Mount Crosson
Base Camp on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier is primarily where we fly climbers to climb the West Buttress, West Rib, South Buttress, and Cassin Ridge along with Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, Mt. Frances, Mt. Crosson and Kahiltna Dome.
During the climbing season there can be as many as 100 people at the Base Camp waiting to climb or fly out. It’s quite a sight to view dozens of colorful tents all set up and occupied by people from around the World.
The glacier landing area is about 2 miles long and 1/4 mile wide. There are several areas where crevasses open up into an abyss potentially thousands of feet deep.
A 3 degree down-slope is essential for take-off downhill. Snow, rock and majestic icewalls tower 7000ft high and 1200ft wide from the landing area. More than once an avalanche has covered the landing area.
The Kahiltna Glacier is 7200 ft above sea level and is a 36-mile-long glacier of the Alaska Range. It starts on the southwest slope of Denali near Kahiltna Pass – elevation 10,320 ft. Its main channel runs almost due south between Mount Foraker to the west and Mount Hunter to the east.
The West Buttress (63.06920° N / 151.0036° W ) is the standard route climbers take to summit Denali, and it provides access to the less popular, but more technical, West Rib and Cassin Ridge routes. The most popular camps along the West Buttress are located at 7,200 ft (Base Camp); 7,800 ft; 9,500 ft; 11,000 ft; 14,200 ft; and 17,200 ft. Other camps located at 12,500 ft and 16,000 ft, should only be used under ideal weather conditions as the 12,500 ft camp is vulnerable to avalanches and the 16,000 ft camp is very exposed to high winds. The 11,000 ft camp also experiences avalanches and serac fall, and care should be taken to avoid these two hazards when setting up camp. Above 14,200 ft, snow caves or igloos are usually constructed as a back up shelter in case bad weather moves in.
Total horizontal length of the West Buttress route is approximately 13 miles with about 13,500 ft of vertical gain. Between base camp and 11,000 ft, the route is relatively flat and the main hazards are crevasse falls. Above 11,000 ft, the route steepens to moderate slopes (35-45 degrees) alternating with flat benches and bowls. Equipment and supplies are typically carried by sled to 11,000 ft. Above 11,000 ft, gear and food are usually ferried between camps in two trips.
West Buttress expeditions average around 21 days. A 2-3 day supply of food and fuel should be left at base camp in case weather prevents planes from landing on the glacier (climbers have been stranded for as long as 2 weeks due to inclement weather). The following is a sample West Buttress itinerary during good weather.
Day 1: Land at Base Camp
Day 2: Rest day to organize gear and practice crevasse rescue
Day 3: Move to 7,800 ft camp
Day 4: Move to 9,500 ft camp
Day 5: Move to 11,000 ft camp
Day 6: Rest day
Day 7: Ferry loads to 14,200 ft camp, return to 11,000 ft camp
Day 8: Move to 14,200 ft camp
Day 9: Rest day
Day 10: Ferry loads to 17,200 ft camp, return to 14,200 ft
Day 11: Rest day
Day 12: Move to 17,200 ft camp
Day 13: Summit day
Day 14: Descend to 11,000 ft camp
Day 15: Descend to base camp, fly out
Denali is located in the sub-polar low, a region where arctic air moving from the north converges with warmer air moving from the south at a latitude of 60 degrees (Denali is located at 63 degrees). This convergence creates a belt of unstable weather at this latitude. Associated with the sub-polar low is a semi-permanent area of low pressure known as the Aleutian Low, located in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands. Weather systems generated or passing through the Aleutian Low often take a straight path for the Alaska Ranges and hit Denali with little warning. Denali also has a reputation for streaky weather with long periods of either continuous bad weather or long periods of good weather. This explains why inexperienced climbers may reach the summit while veteran climbers don’t make it back from their climb.
As a result of its proximity to the Aleutian Low, the weather on Denali is unlike the weather on any other major mountain in the world. Extreme cold is another hallmark of Denali’s weather and temperatures routinely fall to -40 F (-40 C). Unfamiliarity with Denali’s weather is an underlying cause of many accidents. Weather patterns generally contain:
Denali undergoes long periods of clear skies and high winds, and these conditions are most often seen throughout the climbing season (April through June). Windstorms often come with little if any warning and are thus amongst the most feared weather patterns on the mountain. The first signs of increasing high winds are the appearance of lenticular cloud caps over the summit.
LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS FROM THE GULF OF ALASKA
These are the cyclonic weather systems that sweep in from the southwest and vary in intensity, the strongest of which have been described as snow shedding hurricanes. During the more powerful storms, it is generally impossible to be above 14,000 feet.
LOW LEVEL MOISTURE
This occurs when warm, moist air migrates inland from the Pacific Ocean and creates a period of steady drizzle in the lowlands. During these periods, the top of the cloud layer occurs between 10,000 and 14,000 feet and conditions above these altitudes may be quite good. At other times, skies above 14,000 feet will be clear, but windy. Conditions on the lower mountain, however, tend to get sloppy and may even experience periods of rainfall and whiteout.