Alpine Ascents Frequently Asked Questions

Specific Trip FAQ

Aconcagua | Ama Dablam | Bolivia | Carstensz Pyramid | Cho-Oyu | Denali | Ecuador | Elbrus | Everest | Everest Trek | Greenland | Iran | Island Peak | Kilimanjaro | Matterhorn | Mexico | Mongolia | Peru | Vinson

General FAQ

Please note you will be mailed specific information for your expedition upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.

What kind of physical condition should I be in?
We invite you to check out our Training page
We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those clients who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.

How do I sign up for a trip?
The best way to reserve your space on a trip is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX.
(206) 378-1927 (Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:00pm PST).

Our trips fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the trip dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number. For screening purposes, we currently do not offer trip reservations on our website.

What if I prefer single accommodations?
For most of our trips, a single room supplement is available for scheduled nights that are spent in a hotel.

What is the food like?
Our expeditions are provisioned with a blend of high-quality foods from the US and hand picked local fare. If you have any specific dietary restrictions or allergies, there is a place on the application to note this. We are happy to accommodate for those with vegetarian diets.

I would like to arrange a private trip, is this possible?
Alpine Ascents would be happy to arrange a private group trip to the destination of your choice. Most of our prices are based on a group size of 10.

What is included in the cost of my trip? Does it include airfare?
Each specific trip brochure and each trip page on the website has a section that details what is and what is not included in the land costs for each trip. Airfare is not included in the cost. For Travel Arrangements call Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157.

Where do we meet? Will I be picked up?
Our International expeditions generally originate in the particular country's main airport. An Alpine Ascents guide or agent will be there to pick you up on the scheduled arrival date. If you are arriving early, we can often make arrangements for a pick up, though taxi is generally the easiest way to get around before your trip starts.

What if I am arriving early or departing late?
Alpine Ascents can make reservations for you if you desire and can often make recommendations for attractions you can enjoy while waiting for your trip to begin. Early arrivals are either picked up or given taxi information. Please consult with our offices.

How long has Alpine Ascents International been in operation?
Alpine Ascents started in 1986 and we have been guiding internationally and domestically ever since.

What is your safety record?
Our safety record stands as the finest in the guiding industry. When making decisions or organizing climbs, avoiding injury and sickness is our primary focus. Climbing can be a hazardous endeavor and Alpine Ascents establishes a prevention program for each expedition, and maintains small teams to ensure each climb is as safe as possible.

Do you have Gift Certificates?
Yes, gift certificates can be purchased for climbers in $50 increments. Please call our offices for more details.

What do I need to bring?
When you register for a trip we send a confirmation package which includes an equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you need to bring. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. We have designed each gear list to account for all types of conditions and weather.  Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. See our Rental Forms. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us at: (206-378-1927). You can also email us at:

When do I get my rental gear for my trip?
Rental gear for international expeditions is sent by FedEx ground to your home or office approximately 10 days prior to your departure date. You are expected to return rental gear to Alpine Ascents no later than 2 weeks after the end of your expedition.

Is my rental deposit refundable?
Security deposit for Expedition Rentals is fully refundable upon timely (2 weeks) return of equipment in the condition it is sent out. For equipment returned more than 2 weeks after expedition, we reserve the right to withhold all or part of your security deposit.

What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?
Trip cancellation insurance is an option that may allow you to cancel your trip without losing the total cost of the trip. Alpine Ascents highly recommends cancellation insurance for all of our international trips and many of our domestic courses and programs. We will supply you with information upon signing up for a program. Please consult with the insurance company regarding your specific situation.

Are your Rainier climbs full?
Each season we are permitted to make 4 climbs (36 total climbers per year) via the Emmons Glacier route. (June, July & August only). These dates are given to us by the National Park and are the only dates we or any of our guide staff are permitted to guide on Rainier. (This may change in the future). No other dates or private guiding is permitted.   Each climb has a maximum team size of nine climbers, so we fill up very quickly.  We do require prior technical training for our Emmons Glacier climbs, such as our 8-Day & 12-Day Alaska, 6-Day & 13-Day Cascades and Denali preparation courses. 

For 2004 we took registration at 8:00am PST on Monday December 5th, 2003 for qualified former Alpine Ascents climbers or climbers who are registered for a course.  At 12:00 noon we signed on qualified climbers who have not yet climbed with Alpine Ascents International. The climb was sold out by the end of the morning.

Due to the nature of this climb (limited space and high demand) balances are to be paid in full and the trip is non-refundable unless we can re-fill your space. Otherwise our regular policies apply.

Graduates of our School and Climbers who are registered for a 6-day course or equivalent will be given priority status when booking for Rainier

I am fascinated by "The Seven Summits" and your brochure states there is a logical progression to accomplishing this feat. Where should I start if I want to climb the highest mountain on each continent?
The seven summits represent both technical and non-technical ascents. Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua are both non-technical, although demanding. Kilimanjaro requires no prior climbing experience, only excellent physical condition. Aconcagua is also non-technical, but you are required to carry heavy packs (60+ pounds) at high altitudes and we recommend a basic course before attempting this climb. For the rest of the peaks, most people start by taking a basic mountaineering course, such as our 6-Day, 13-Day or Denali Preparation course. The order of technical peaks usually goes Elbrus, Denali, and Vinson. Everest is usually done last, and often after completing another 8000m peak such as Cho-Oyu. Carstensz Pyramid is a rock climb of moderate difficulty.

I have read that Kosciuszko in Australia is one of the seven summits, you claim that Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia is one of the summits. Are there eight? Which one is the true seventh summit?
Kosciuszko (7,310'/2228m), a non-technical peak, is the highest point in Australia. Australia has long been considered the seventh continent, but most now view Australia as part of the larger continental formation of Oceana. From that perspective, Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid - 16,023ft/4884m) is by far the tallest peak. In the end though, most climbers with seven summits aspirations climb both peaks just to be sure.

For most of your trips, you don't recommend Windstopper Fleece as an acceptable insulation layer, how come?
While Windstopper Fleece is an excellent product, and very useable in a variety of conditions at lower elevations, we do not recommend it for most high altitude climbing. The nature of the fabric significantly reduces breathability, a critical factor in an insulation layer while climbing at altitude.  In the experience of one of our climbers:  "Both times I worked out for an hour, dried off, got dressed while my body was still very HOT from the workout. With the Windstopper jacket, my skin was still sweaty and hot for 25 minutes until finally I opened up the pit zips and unzipped it. With a regular Fleece, I had stopped sweating in a mere 10 minutes with the pit zips closed and jacket zipped up."  Our guides have numerous anecdotes from high altitude expeditions where Windstopper jackets not only jeopardized a neighboring climber's summit chances, but combined with a lack of experience, put their health at risk as well.

I want to become a mountain guide, where do I start?
Those with limited experience generally start by taking our 13-Day Alpine mountaineering course and then go out and climb for a few years. You generally should have at least 5 years of climbing and/or teaching/guiding experience. We look for those guides who have expertise on a particular mountain as well. International experience is also a big plus.

I want to contact my friend or relative, who is on one of your trips, how can I reach them?
Many of our climbs are cybercast on the web, and we receive updates from our guides when they are in the field at a sufficient altitude to make a call. Information about specific climbers is generally not available until the completion of a course or expedition. The best place to reach a loved one is through our office.

I have successfully completed your basic mountaineering course. What can I do next?
Our introductory technical courses serve as a prerequisite for many of our international expeditions such as the Volcanoes of Mexico and Ecuador, our Peru and Bolivia climbs, Elbrus, Denali, Vinson, and of course our advanced courses The Glacier and Alpine Intermediate Courses, and Advanced Ice Courses and Mt. Rainier.

What sets you apart from other guide services? Why should I choose Alpine Ascents?
Our guide staff. The Alpine Ascents guide team is the finest in the industry. Their love for mountaineering is infectious and thrills us to no end as we watch climbers both young and old embrace personal challenges. Our team displays uncommonly rich talents and as one climber stated, "it is an honor just to be on the mountain with these guides." Some of the greatest compliments Alpine Ascents has received have come not only from our students, but from guides throughout the climbing community, who are "thrilled to have former students" as climbing partners. For more information see our General Statement and the article How to Choose A Guide Service

Who goes on your trips?
Our climbers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, countries and skill levels. From those seeking skill development to those seeking assistance with the world's highest mountains, we provide courses and expeditions for every level of climber.

I love the photographs in your brochure and on your website, are they for sale?
Yes, our images are available for licensing or purchase. We have a photo gallery of images on our website that are available framed and/or mounted.

What is the best film for photography in Alpine environments?

See the Article:
Photography Notes by Pete Athans"

While more and more climbers are bringing an ever increasing array of digital cameras into the mountains, many still prefer traditional film cameras.  Sometimes however, after returning from an expedition, the glorious colors and depth you saw through the lens somehow did not transfer well to the 2-dimensional image. We recommend the following film to maximize photo quality:

Color Slides: 50 Speed Fuji Velvia - high contrast
100 Speed Fuji Asita - neutral
Color Negatives: 160 speed NC Kodak Portra

Remember photos are wonderful records of your expedition but keep camera gear simple and light to best enjoy the trip you are on.  Disposable and digital cameras are the lightest weight, but all cameras have maintenance issues that need to be carefully considered before bringing them up high.

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