The Don Sheldon Mountain House may be the world’s most spectacularly situated cabin. Perched on a 4.9 acre rock and ice covered outcrop located at the 5,800 foot level, in the middle of the Don Sheldon Amphitheater just above the Ruth Gorge, it is surrounded on all sides by towering granite walls and glaciers flowing off the flanks of Denali, less than 10 miles away. It’s used primarily from March through October by photographers, skiiers, mountaineers, and anyone who wants to get far away from the world, “resting in the hand of G-d as one journal entry put it.”
The only way in is by ski-equipped airplane. The 40-minute flight from Talkeetna runs about $550 per person. From the airstrip, it’s a 15-20 minute hike up to the cabin, the last 300 yards of which is on permanent stairs. Your air taxi, K2 Aviation, will provide a sled and snowshoes to make lugging your gear easier. There is a sat phone at the Mountain House to coordinate flights with K2 Aviation.
Kate Sheldon manages reservations for the cabin on behalf of its owner, the Sheldon family. Their father was the famous pioneer aviator, Don Sheldon, who constructed the cabin in 1966. You’ll be amazed that he was able to fly all the materials either strapped to the side of his Piper Super Cub or inside of a Cessna 180.
Four benches / sleeping platforms inside the cabin comfortably sleep 4 adults. 2 more can sleep on the floor. Though for larger groups, bring a tent and pitch it on the ridge nearby. The cabin has a small woodstove, some great books, including years of visitor journals which always make for fascinating—and in this cabin’s case—historic reading. Reservations for the mountain house are open year round, but it is best to enquire for spring dates a year in advance. Bring extra food in case you get weathered in. Wood is provided to keep the cabin warm at night (and during the day, if it’s not sunny).
If you come later in the season, Mid-June to August, you’ll either want to be experienced in glacier travel and crevasse rescue or bring a guide with you or hire a guide as suggested on the website. There’s a small ski hill above the landing strip that you ski and sled on unroped, but anywhere else you travel, you’ll want to be on a rope team.
Make sure you take time to read the journal entries of past visitors and leave your own. You’ll understand what a special place this is to the few people lucky enough to experience its magic.