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50 Years Later Backcountry Skiing Returns to Sheldon Chalet in Denali National Park, Alaska

July 14, 2021 / 2 months ago

In the mid-1960’s, the famous Sheldon Mountain House welcomed local Alaskans to ski under the summit of Denali. This ski season will look a lot like those simpler times. No lift lines, no crowds and endless opportunities to carve turns, make the return of skiing in Denali at Sheldon Chalet the perfect base for the ultimate backcountry skiing experience. Our remote offering at Sheldon Chalet includes your private gear fitting, custom backcountry skis with skins that make it easy to ascend, guides to take you out and explore the open terrain and an epic private mountain experience available from March to June. Imagine a 35 square mile amphitheatre with untouched pristine powder all around and skiable lines as far as the eye can see, you’ve never experienced a ski vacation like this before.

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Backcountry Skiing Experience

After an avalanche and glacier preparation training course, set out with expert our guides to create fresh tracks among the powder coating the glacier surrounded by Alaska’s rugged wilderness. Skiing in Denali National Park is a Backcountry alpine touring and skiing experience. You will depart Sheldon Chalet and ski-tour your way to the slopes. Once there you’ll trek or “skin” up the slope in a zig-zag pattern until you reach the designated stopping point selected by your guides. Once there, you’ll take off the “skins” that assisted with the trek across the glacier and up the slope, lock your binding in place and then carve epic turns. As the day ends, return to Sheldon Chalet for a sauna, gourmet dinner, the spectacular glow of the northern lights, sparkling night starscapes and a luxurious night’s sleep.

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Skiing Denali in the 60’s

As a returning WW2 pilot Don Sheldon returned to Alaska and perfected the technique of glacier landings, setting the stage to access its most grand locations including Mount McKinley, now known as Denali. With innovative skis added to planes and the development of the Historic Mountain House in 1966, local Alaskans could now fly in and sleep in the Ruth Glacier Amphitheatre, renamed to the Don Sheldon Amphitheater in 20. With a glacier to oneself, friends and eventually travelers from as far as Japan would seek out the pleasures of backcountry skiing in the Alaskan range, ending the day with the stunning aurora dancing above.

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Historic Sheldon Mountain House

Built in 1966, the Historic Sheldon Mountain House is an icon in an eternal location. More than 70 years ago, Don Sheldon and his legendary partner, explorer and cartographer Brad Washburn, began their ten-year odyssey to map the vast and unexplored Alaska Range. Sheldon had the vision to build a 212 square foot hut on his newly claimed 5 acre rock in the heart of Denali so adventurous travelers from around the world could experience what he knew was one of the most special places on earth. This hexagonal building, the prototype and manifestation for today’s Sheldon Chalet, became a basecamp for many first ascents of area peaks as well as less strenuous trekking and skiing. With an outhouse, a wood stove and 4 padded sleeping berths, Sheldon Mountain House became a retreat for skiers in the 1960’s.

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Skiing Denali in 2021

Similar to those simpler days in the 1960’s, skiing in Denali National Park with the Sheldon Chalet remains easy and fun. As you arrive in Anchorage, you’ll have a private fitting experience for all your gear, including “skins” for your ascents. Once at the Chalet, you’ll have 35 miles of fresh powder outside your door, making each day a new skiing experience led by expert guides who provide training for all levels. Return to the Chalet to unwind in the sauna, enjoy a hearty gourmet meal and enjoy the aurora from the observation deck.

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The Addition of Sheldon Chalet

The Sheldon Mountain House built in 1966 was always a prototype for Don and Roberta Sheldon’s vision to share Denali’s grandeur with the world. Forty years later, design plans and renderings of what is now the Sheldon Chalet, were discovered and developed in 2016 by 2nd and 3rd generation Sheldons. The addition of the 2,000 square foot Sheldon Chalet provides the first ever comfort in Denali National Park, with 5 bedrooms, and 2.5 bathrooms offered as a private experience for up to 10 guests.

To book Sheldon Chalet and our exclusive backcountry skiing, please email visit@sheldonchalet.com or call us at 907-733-2414.

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