Alaska Mountaineering School
" If it's safety first, then AMS must rate as the best guiding service on Denali. "
— Mike Nixon, Denali West Buttress Expedition
" I was very impressed with the professionalism and attention to detail of the entire organization, from start to finish. "
— Gary Davis, 12-day MTC
" Very Satisfied. The emphasis on safety was outstanding. "
— Rob Holder, Denali West Buttress Expedition
Alaska Mountaineering School

AMS Standards and Safety

AMS cannot eliminate the possibility of an accident happening during one of its programs. You could be seriously injured or die while flying to the program location, while conducting program activities, or from an unknown previous condition that requires advanced medical care. AMS' excellent safety record and positive feedback from years of evaluations from our graduates and the National Park Service reflects the success of our program. We recognize and manage the hazards and inherent risks of traveling and living in a wilderness environment.

Safety is AMS' number one priority and permeates our decision making process in the backcountry. From how to put on a backpack to equalizing an anchor, most decisions in the wilderness have a safety-related component. AMS' goal is to teach our participants how to recognize, avoid, and evaluate hazards encountered in the backcountry. AMS emphasizes prevention in its approach to risk management. During any course or expedition, your instructors and guides discuss, monitor, and minimize risk and exposure to hazards. Participants learn to identify potential hazards, evaluate risk exposure, and make educated decisions all of which help develop a good mountain sense.

Many of the areas where AMS operates are fly-in and fly-out and have flight times of 30-60 minutes. However, if the weather is not flyable it might take hours or days before a plane can land. Flying conditions have to be VFR, Visual Flight Rules. Pilots cannot fly in the blind or off a GPS. There has to be an adequate ceiling for the terrain they are flying in and at a minimum two miles and a 500' ceiling.

Awareness of the hazards is only the first step in maintaining an adequate risk management system. AMS has a comprehensive emergency response and evacuation plan for the areas we operate. Our staff are certified in wilderness emergency medicine and we have medical protocols written by our medical director, Dr. Peter Hackett and training supervisor Lance Taysom, RN. AMS programs are insured, permitted, and equipped with first aid kits, drug kits, and communication equipment: satellite phones, aircraft radios, and emergency locator transmitters. All our expeditions and courses register with the Talkeetna Ranger Station and have the means to communicate with Alaska's Rescue Coordination Center.