Sheldon Chalet Logo.


The Sheldon Family has always held a steadfast vision of sharing Denali’s awe-inspiring majesty with the world. Their pioneering efforts began while Alaska was still a territory and decades before Denali National Park surrounded the Sheldon Nunatak. True Alaskan trailblazers, they transformed their vision into reality.

Lives of adventure

Don Sheldon and his team with the airplane.Don and Roberta Sheldon sitting in their plane.

Don Sheldon

Don grew up in Wyoming but always had his eye on horizons beyond the family ranch. In the fall of 1938, after graduating high school at the age of 16, he arrived in Talkeetna, Alaska in search of adventure. Don quickly mastered essential Alaskan skills before volunteering with the Army Air Corps in 1942.

Roberta Sheldon

Roberta, the firstborn daughter of Alaskan aviation pioneers Bob and Tilly Reeve, grew up in the airline business, working in administration for Reeve Aleutian Airways. She then traveled the world as a stewardess for Flying Tigers before marrying Don in 1964.

Talkeetna Air Service

Don Sheldon team building a wooden frame in the snow.Don and Roberta Sheldon.

Coming Home

Upon his return from WWII, Don settled back in Talkeetna, married Roberta, and began operating Talkeetna Air Service. He flew all around Alaska, serving Native villages, remote hunters, fishermen, and miners, and provided support for countless first ascents on Denali and mountain rescues and grew the air service to eight speciality aircraft.

Life long friends

Don's mastery of flight and mechanics attracted photographer, cartographer, and explorer Bradford Washburn for the monumental project of creating the first comprehensive map of the Alaska Range. Throughout the 1950s, they surveyed and photographed all of Denali’s beautiful and treacherous terrain despite hazardous conditions at times. It all culminated in the production of a masterpiece still used today and a friendship for life.

Plane flying over the amphitheater in the 60ties.Plane landed in front  of the mountain in the 60ties.

Sheldon Mountain House

Mountain House surrounded by snow in the 60ties.Airplane flying over Denali National park in the 60ties.

The dream begins

Don and Roberta’s vision started taking shape in 1966 with the construction of the historic ‘Mountain House’ on a rocky nunatak in the middle of the Ruth Glacier that Don claimed during the mapping expedition. All materials and carpenters were flown to the nunatak making it possible for adventurers from around the world to enjoy the beauty of Denali.

Rugged charm

This hexagonal building became a noted base camp for hundreds of alpinists, as well as skiers and glacier trekkers. The little building even drew leisure seekers who simply wanted to capture a slice of high alpine life and the sweeping, raw landscape beneath their feet and in every direction. It is still in service today and all who visit Sheldon nunatak enjoy its rugged charm.

Mountain House up close.Guests climbing the mountain towards the Mountain House.


Roberta’s resilience 

When cancer claimed Don’s life in 1975 at the age of 53, his plans to build a larger structure atop the nunatak were also laid to rest. Despite her heartache, Roberta continued raising the family in Talkeetna, selling off all the aircraft of Talkeetna Air Service and making the Sheldon Mountain House available for adventurers every year.

Reviving the dream

It wasn’t until after Roberta’s passing in 2014 that children Kate and Robert, upon inheriting the nunatak, decided to honor their parents' legacy. They moved forward with the construction plans for a chalet, inspired by their parents’ dream. A few weeks after settling on a design, they discovered a set of blueprints dated 1968 for a 'Sheldon Chalet.' Armed with this newfound information, the family embarked on a challenging yet rewarding three-year construction project in 2015.

Sheldon Chalet frame being built.Sheldon Chalet with helicopter flying next to it.Sheldon Chalet being built with the helicopter flying over.

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