Wrangell Mountains Backpack – Rosay Custom

Wrangell Mountains Backpack – Rosay Custom


July 17, 2020 - July 23, 2020


Wrangell St Elias National Park





July 17, 2020 - July 23, 2020


Wrangell St Elias National Park



Enjoy a week of big wilderness and big views in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park this summer. This backpacking adventure traverses the flanks of a Mt Sanford where we can explore the surrounding mountains and glaciers, search for Dall sheep, and enjoy the solitude and wilderness of this mountain kingdom. This hike in the Northern Wrangell Mountains is hard to beat.


The high country in Wrangell-St. Elias is beyond compare. With 9.6 million acres of designated wilderness, Wrangell- St. Elias National Park is part of the largest federally protected area in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape of the northern Wrangells is one of smoking volcanoes covered in ice; rocky spires jut into the blue sky above sinuous valleys with glacial torrents careening between sheer valley walls. And amongst the raw elemental power of the place we find green glens rich with fern and wildflowers and verdant plateaus dotted with Dall sheep and nesting song birds. It is a land of contrasts and beauty.

The lower elevations of the Park are forested and very brushy, beautiful but difficult to navigate. In contrast, the high-country offers endless vistas and relatively easy hiking both on the mountain sides and along the valley floor. We will stick to the high ground and enjoy the superb hiking on this week-long adventure. Our hike starts in an enormous amphitheater of ice in the very shadow of the 16,000 ft high Mount Sanford. To access this is a rarely visited portion of the park requires flights in an airplane which can only take a single passenger at a time. This nimble aircraft allows us to enjoy true wilderness solitude in a unique and pristine location.

From this good start the adventure just gets better. Dall Sheep flock in the peaks. Grizzly bears dig ground squirrels and hunt marmots in the valley floors and caribou roam the higher plateaus. It is a good place to see a variety of wildlife.

By staying in the high country the hiking is exceptionally good. Of course there are places with rough ground, brush and a few creek crossings, but on the whole vegetation is sparse and the footing solid. This route covers about 20 miles and crosses 2 passes. The bulk of the route is at 4,500 ft above sea level and glaciers are nearly always in sight. Mt Sanford is quickly becoming our favorite part of the Wrangells.

This route offers physical challenge, diverse landscapes, great chances for wildlife and truly stunning scenery. Join us for adventure and solitude in America’s largest National Park.

Last updated: November 25, 2020


What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

July 17

Rendezvous in Chistochina, Alaska, mile 32.7 on the Tok Cut-off at 11 am. At noon, we meet our pilot who shuttles us into the mountains one at a time. Once the hum of the propeller fades into the distance and the quiet of the mountains descends we are on our own. The weather and your desires will dictate the pace of the trip, but the drop-off location is so spectacular it warrants a bit of time to relish the beauty.

July 18

The area around the Drop Glacier is so spectacular that a lay-over day is warranted. Day-hiking in the foss and up the moraine is excellent. Enjoy the grandeur.

July 19

When ready, you’ll negotiate the glacial moraine and head towards Capital Mountain where Dall Sheep graze high on the green slopes. Then its up and over the first 1,000 ft pass before finding a way to down to Boulder Glacier. The creek crossing below the glacier may be a significant obstacle if the weather is warm and crossing early the next day is prudent and often we can walk across the glacier and avoid the creek crossing entirely.

July 20 - 22

Once across Boulder Creek and Sheep Creek, the walking gets even better. There will be time to explore near the glaciers and to scan for wildlife on the tundra. Near the ice large cobbles and loose rocks slow progress but once up on the volcanic plateaus, full strides are possible and the vistas are impressive.

Each night we’ll camp near a small creek or find springs coming out of the rocks. Caribou frequent the high plateau so keep your eyes peeled.

July 23

One last walk to the galcier, one last scan for sheep above camp and it is time to pack-up and fly back to Chistochina where your vehicle waits. If the weather cooperates we can be back to the road by early afternoon, ready for the next adventure.

Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless.  A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.

You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed.  Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails.   He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.

- Sandra, California, USA



Transportation beyond Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness, stoves

Select rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild

Cooking & eating utensils, water filter, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service



Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear per our equipment list

Gratuity for guide


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Alaska. Late July is usually mild and warm (sometimes even hot) and the Northern Wrangells are one of the driest parts of the state. That said, it could be cool and rainy so be prepared for anything.  Temperatures could range from the 20s to 80s. Snow is possible any day of the year. Mosquitoes should not be an issue but bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent just in case.


The Copper Spike by Lone E Janson

Alaska’s Wolf Man by Jim Rearden

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey.

More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River