Northwest Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 60.95628°N / 149.05804°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 3 and 4
Sign the Climber's Log


From Anchorage, take the Seward Highway south for about 36 miles. Turn right at Girdwood and follow the signs for Alyeska resort. From the point where you turn right you can see breathtaking Mount Alyeska and its many ski runs. You can either start at the bottom of the ski area and hike up or ride the aerial tramway to about halfway up the mountain. The total vertical elevation gain from the top of the tram to the summit is approximately 1600 feet. The total vertical gain if you start at the base of the ski area would be around 3625 feet.

Route Description

From the bottom, follow ski runs up to the mid-station at the top of the tram. You will gain approximately 2,025 feet in elevation from the base to the top of the tram. From the top of the tram, proceed along the partly worn tourist path, past the vistas overlooking the Girdwood valley on your left, past the top of Chair#5 on your right, around a deep gully on the left, and then work your way up a short scree slope to the left in order to gain the knife-edge ridge. Once you reach the top of the ridge, continue to be alert for loose rock. Test each foothold and handhold. Follow the knife-edge ridge that you see to the left of the summit. You will see that the Alyeska Glacier below you to the right, with its many crevasses. After about 30 minutes on the knife edge, the come to a small col where the ridge is more rounded. Just beyond this point the ridge turns to the right and climbs very steeply for several hundred feet. This is the crux of the climb, where you must be especially careful of loose rock. If you have other people with you, you will want to proceed one person at a time. If you fall in this section, it was nice knowing you. Once you get past this exhilarating section, the ridge widens considerably and continues fairly level for several hundred feet to one more steep section. This last uphill section is easy compared to the previous steep section. Beyond this last section, and about 1 hour and 15 minutes since you left the top of the tram, the true summit is an easy 100-foot walk. Stop and take in all the views of the knife-edged ridge you just ascended, Turnagain Arm, the Girdwood valley, several nearby glaciers, and many mountains and glaciers of the high Chugach Range to the north and east.

Essential Gear

None in summer; Crampons, ice ax, ropes, and at least 2 partners in winter conditions.

Miscellaneous Info

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