Ptarmigan Tracks

The Newsletter of Camp Denali,
North Face Lodge & Parkside Guest House

Online Version 2014

A Winter Retreat to the South...Side

This March, “fun-hog” month as it's locally known, we pulled off a second-annual winter retreat for our year-round staff. Destination: The Don Sheldon Mountain House, a hut on a 5-acre, private in-holding smack dab in the heart of the Alaska Range. Perched on a rock outcrop at 6000 feet, in a cul-de-sac of the Ruth Glacier, the hut is 20 miles from the south summit of Denali. Built in 1966 by pioneer mountain pilot, Don Sheldon, it is now a rentable base camp for mountaineers, photographers, skiers, and wilderness lovers.

For seven days the hut and the snow caves we built nearby were our homes in a wilderness of mountains, ice, and endless snow. After brushing up on crevasse rescue, we made several ski trips out onto the mighty Ruth, skimming across 3700-foot thick glacier ice overtopped by 5000-foot walls of granite. Evenings we played games and watched winds and light come and go on the mountains. Martha and Teresa built a snow cave; Simon and the kids built a quinzee. We thoroughly carved up the snow with ski turns on nearby, crevasse-free slopes. And seven days out of seven we savored bluebird skies and spectacular alpenglow on the never-ending mountains. Wow!

Back to Online Version 2014