- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Bridget Belliveau
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Nick Brown
- Adam Butterfield
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Lance Colley
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Cody Doolan
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Thomas Greene
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Tim Hardin
- Mike Haugen
- Bryan Hendrick
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Zach Lovell
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Robert Montague
- Erik Nelson
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Logan Randolph
- Tyler Reid
- Dave Reynolds
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mike Tomlinson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Maile Wade
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Posts for Guide News
46 years ago, August 24, 1967, I began my first summit climb of Mt. Rainier. I was a paying customer. The cost was $25, which included a One-Day Climbing School. Nevertheless, as many have, I contacted the Guide Service (it wasn’t RMI yet) and pleaded my case to avoid the training and lessen the price. I pointed out I had backpacked earlier in the summer and encountered snow, which I successfully negotiated. Alas, the manager informed me I needed the Climbing School, but proposed I carry a load of food to Camp Muir to work out the cost. Terrific! John Anderson drew a rudimentary map of the ‘route’ to Muir one Saturday morning at Paradise in early July and my only question was “how many round trips?” (I was totally serious). His deadpan reply was that one ought to do it. My trip to Muir is another story for another time. I managed to deliver the supplies and participated in Climbing School the following day.
The evening of August 23, 1967, some neighbors from Lakewood dropped me off at Paradise. My folks had provided money for a hot dog at the snack bar, but a room in the Inn was out of the question. Not a problem, so I headed to the Inn to kill the evening before finding a suitable campsite. Employee Talent Shows were a nightly occurrence at Paradise Inn in the good old days. The hotel management hired people oftentimes based primarily on musical or other talent. At the conclusion of the show a juke box was cranked up, and employees and guests alike hit the dance floor for a couple of hours. I was content to watch. At 10:00PM I donned my waiting pack (a wooden frame Trapper Nelson) and walked up the Skyline Trail a short distance above Paradise Inn. There I settled in beneath a cluster of sub-alpine fir and spent the night.
Dawn on Saturday, August 24th, promised a perfect day for the trek to Camp Muir. Guide Service headquarters was located in the basement of the Visitor Center (the flying saucer) and there I met the other clients and our two guides, Tony Andersen and John Rutter. There were five clients, including myself. I can’t remember details about the trip to Muir, other than I positioned myself in line directly behind the ‘cabin girl’ headed up to cook for the guides. There was no client Bunkhouse, instead the guides on each trip would pitch and strike White Stag car-camping tents (the guides headquartered in the tiny, rock Cook Shack). Dinner was provided as part of the fee: beef stew & mashed potatoes (from #10 cans), as well as breakfast when we awoke to climb (#10 can peaches). Even a sleeping bag was supplied (I had no concern of when it may have been cleaned last).
Summit day took 12 hours round trip: nine hours up and three hours down. There were three ladders to cross on the Ingraham Glacier. We left Muir at midnight and about half-way across the Cowlitz Glacier, I realized I’d left my gloves in camp. No big deal; I would tough it out. On a side note, it goes without saying we weren’t wearing helmets, beacons, harnesses or headlamp (we carried flashlights), or even gaiters. I wore wool army pants, my ‘parka’ was a Navy pea coat (heavy wool), and we were tied directly into the 150’ goldline rope with a bowline on a coil or bowline on a bight.
Above the first rest break, we negotiated the ladders and traversed north onto Disappointment Cleaver. My hands were pretty damn cold (the guides hadn’t noticed my predicament) as we ascended the spine of the Cleaver. On top of DC we took our second rest break and lo and behold, one person decided to call it quits. Before resuming the ascent I screwed up my courage and asked the person staying behind if I could by any chance borrow his gloves… of course I could!
High on the summit dome I was really starting to run out of gas, and we were still more than an hour from the crater. Could I/Should I drop out?! John Rutter’s emphatic answer was a resounding NO! I kept plugging. Now the rim was in sight, and slowly getting closer. But then… what the hell?! Instead of halting for a much needed break we didn’t so much as pause, traversed through the rocks, dropped into the crater and crossed. Sign the book. Un-tie and reach Columbia Crest. Hero shot. The weather was perfect. It was 9:00AM, Sunday, August 25, 1967.
Occasionally over the years I have wondered if I blocked our descent from memory; was it that much an ordeal?! I recall very little, other than being incredibly thirsty. In retrospect, we took some wrong turns on the DC (Disappointment Cleaver), which necessitated backtracking uphill (killer). At Muir we were plied with Kool-Aid. The descent to Paradise took forever, but at the parking lot I was one happy, exhausted 16-year-old.
I didn’t play organized sports in high school; I grew up with parents who hated camping (but enjoyed road trips and appreciated National Parks); to suggest I wasn’t particularly studious is a gross understatement; but I had just discovered something I loved, that would stay with me for the rest of my life: climbing. Over the next winter I bothered Lou incessantly about becoming an Apprentice Guide (I even applied for work at Paradise Inn, but evidently lacked a requisite talent). At some point (maybe just to put me off), Lou and/or John Anderson said to show up at Paradise in June, and see if there was work. I did; there was; and, there still is!
August 25th, 1967 - Joe Horiskey, age 16, on the Mt. Rainier summit. Mt. St. Helens, pre-1980 eruption, in the background.
1968 - Jim Whittaker, Joe Horiskey, and Lou Whittaker on Mt. Rainier. Joe’s first year working for the guide service, which became RMI the following year.
Valdez, Alaska, is an incredible place to be in April. Long hours of daylight make for excellent opportunities to log massive amounts of vertical in the backcountry. When the skiing is good on Thompson Pass, there is no shortage of dramatic peaks and aesthetic lines.
Taking my AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guides Exam there this spring, I spent a majority of April in the area training with friends and fellow guides becoming familiar with the Alaskan terrain and snowpack.
The days leading up to the exam were filled with anxiety and endless “what-if’s” and “well-maybe’s.” Soon the other exam candidates and I found ourselves in the thick of eight days of late-into-the-night tour planning, strategizing, and pouring over weather forecasts, raw remote data, weather models, avalanche hazard forecasts, and various other slightly cloudy crystal balls. The general idea being to sort through all the data until you find a summary you like. Forecasting for an area as large as Alaska is quite difficult and many times during the week we were reminded that the forecasts were never quite wrong, but that the timing of the forecasts were usually off.
Conditions varied from thigh-deep powder in the east facing couloirs of the Iguana Backs zone, to some of the stiffest, carvable wind-board I’ve ever skied on the Berlin Wall and Odyssey.
The last few days of the exam we had great weather and flyable conditions. We employed the mechanical advantage of Valdez Heli-Skiing to get a ride into the Hoodoo glacier area for an overnight ski tour. We started with a descent of Acapulco Peak in the sunshine and finished with a long ski out of the Worthington Glacier in whiteout conditions.
Going through the process of being examined by your peers, learning from other exam candidates, and dealing with the stress of guiding new terrain and on-the-fly tour planning has been invaluable in helping me excel in all other facets of my guiding and personal endeavors.
Passing the exam and becoming one of only a handful of certified women in the U.S. is a huge honor and I am proud to represent RMI Expeditions.
- RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall
Andres Marin: I guided the Alpine and Expedition seminars in Alaska, where our teams had an incredible time climbing and learning. When the seminars ended, I had a few days to spend climbing around Base Camp.
Katie Bono: Both Andres and I had time at the end of our trip for some personal climbing. We bid adieu to our team in Talkeetna and the next morning flew back into Kahiltna Base Camp.
Kahiltna Base Camp sits in the heart of the Alaska Range, surrounded on all sides by peaks such as Denali, Mt. Foraker, and Mt. Hunter. With the plethora of climbing options the pair decided to climb the Kahiltna Queen (12,380’).
AM: Around Base Camp there are so many cool peaks to climb and one of those is the rarely climbed Kahiltna Queen. This peak is located at the end of the southeast fork of the Kahiltna glacier. It is the only peak in the range that divides three different glaciers: the Kahiltna, the Ruth and the Tokositna.
KB: Andres and I spent a day skiing up the Southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, stopping along the way to look at different climbing options and to do some ice climbing. Kahiltna Queen looked like a gorgeous peak to climb and both of us were stoked about trying an unclimbed route.
The following night Katie and Andres began their climb up the West side of the Kahiltna Queen.
KB: The line we took followed a rib splitting the west face, starting from where the rib emerged from the glacier. The part of the climb was mostly steep snow climbing on some great and not-so-great neve (granular snow that accumulates near mountain tops from wind and precipitation). The route then transitions into ice climbing with some rock mixed in.
AM: The mixed climbing was great all the way to the summit. The day was incredible and the views were just amazing. At the top we stopped to melt water and high five. Then it was time for us to start descending the West Couloir Route. The descent ended up being longer and more difficult than I expected as we had to do over fourteen rappels.
Following the successful climb, Katie and Andres, skied two hours back to Base Camp. After 25 hours of climbing they returned safely to Base Camp.
KB: Seeing the moonrise while we were climbing was awesome! It came up for maybe an hour or so and just skimmed the edge of the horizon. For the whole way up we had splitter weather and were basking in the sun at the summit. After this trip I can definitely understand why my friends are excited about Alaska. It was great to be able to climb the Kahiltna Queen after guiding the Alaska Seminar since it enabled me to spend so much time in the Alaska Range. Andres has heaps of experience in the Alaska Range and I learned a lot from working and climbing with him.
AM: All and all it was a great climb with a great partner. I am already looking forward to next year’s seminar and more personal climbs in the Alaska Range.
Andres Marin is a senior guide at RMI leading programs in Washington, Alaska and Colorado. He is an off-width specialist and an accomplished ice and mixed climber. One of his recent achievements includes climbing the five hardest mixed lines in Ouray, Colorado, in a day. Andres is a fully certified alpine and rock guide sponsored by Millet, Blue Water Ropes, 5.10, Petzl, GU and Ice Holdz.
Katie Bono is an RMI Guide and accomplished climber with impressive ascents in North America and Canada. A retired Nordic ski racer and Millet athlete, she currently holds the women’s speed record on Mt. Rainier.
To see more of their climb check out Andres’ Kahiltna Queen video.
Posted by: | June 16, 2013
Categories: *Guide News
Happy Father’s Day from RMI! Our fathers played an influential role in getting us involved in the outdoors and appreciating the experience of the mountains for many of us. Thanks to all of the mentors who inspired our climbing dreams and support our mountain adventures.
Below is a compilation of photos of RMI climbers and guides climbing with their dads. Thank you to everyone for sharing your pictures with us!
I climbed Mt. Rainier with my father last summer. After a memorable summit, my dad - a man of little words - expressed his confidence in my abilities as a mountain guide, a compliment I did not take lightly. He told me that he trusted my decision-making in the mountains and wanted me to be a part of his dream trip: combining his passion for the water and the mountains with a sailing and skiing trip in the Lofoten Islands of Norway.
I immediately approached fellow RMI Guide and good friend Pete Van Deventer to see if he was interested in joining the crew. Without hesitation Pete and his wife committed to the trip. Besides being a great climbing partner, Pete had spent time in Norway in college and was eager to return. Additionally, he suggested that we invite one of his Norwegian friends to accompany us. Magnus had already completed a similar trip and was able to offer great suggestions about boat charters and finding a competent captain for our voyage. The dream trip was starting to take shape.
After months of training and preparation, we headed to Norway in April. My dad and I flew to Oslo where we spent two days sightseeing before flying above the Arctic Circle to a fishing village on the west coast to meet our team. A few hours after arriving in Svolvaer, we heard ski bags rolling on pavement. Pete, Katie, Magnus and Maria, Magnus’ girlfriend, arrived at the boat and our seven-day adventure began!
The next morning we woke up to partly cloudy skies and the realization that a 44-foot sailboat is a tight space for ski gear, sailing gear, and eight people. After organizing our gear in waves, we left the boat with skis on our packs and walked toward a favorite local ski touring peak. Successfully navigating the Svolvaer neighborhoods, we finally reached snow. With climbing skins on our skis we began our ascent up the south side of a peak named Blåtind. Partway up the mountain, it began to rain and visibility dwindled. Too excited to turn back on our first day of ski touring, we decided to continue. A few minutes after reaching the saddle on Blåtind the sun came out and we focused our attention on a ski line on east side of the peak. The conditions were spring corn snow. After a close to 2,000’ descent we put our skins back on and toured along the water to the nearest road where we hailed a taxi back to the sailboat.
The following morning we set sail to the Trollfjord. The Trollfjord is an area accessible to skiers only by boat. With our sails up and Katie Van Deventer at the helm, we sailed to the entrance of the Trollfjord - a dauntingly narrow waterway surrounded by steep walls. We docked amid howling winds and a mix of rain and snow. Reaching the TrollfjordHyatta, a cabin in the Norweigan Hut System, would have to wait until the next day.
We woke to improved weather and loaded our ski gear and a night’s worth of food onto the dock. The boat sailed away promising to return the following afternoon and we spent the morning skinning to the TrollfjordHyatta. The hut turned out to be a small majestic wooden cabin surrounded by peaks in every direction. Inspired by the mountains around us, we headed out to ski Peak 975. We had great views of our climb ahead and discussed our route and ski options. After an hour the terrain became too steep to skin. With skis on our packs, and clouds rolling in, we reached the top of Peak 975. Since the light was flat we used our bootpack to guide us as we skied down the same route we ascended. The visibility improved and we were reminded of the natural beauty of the Trollfjord. Taking advantage of the good weather we added a few laps to finish our day on a smaller peak just above the cabin. From there we could see the dramatic entrance to the Trollfjord and the unlimited ski options for the following day. The night in the hut was filled with wine, laughs, and Ludo, a Norweigan board game. In the morning we were able to get a few runs in on some steep north facing chutes before returning to dock where we met the boat.
As we sailed away, inspired by the endless quantity of peaks around us, we discussed the multitude of ski options for the day and remainder of the trip. The next few days were unlike any trip I have known. The terrain and sailboat allowed for ultimate flexibility. If the weather was good, we would ski; if the weather was marginal, we would set sail waiting for the conditions to change. Once we decided upon a peak the question then became: how do we get to shore?
This was often time and energy consuming. We would either dock the boat or, if that wasn’t an option, we would get ashore via dinghy. If we went by dinghy Frederik, our captain, shuttled us and our gear ashore while Iselin, the assistant captain, handled the sailboat. From the dock or shore we would skin or walk a few miles to a skiable peak, climb and ski it, and make our way back to the boat. This sometimes meant walking, other times we were able to ski within a few hundred meters of the boat. Other times it meant taking a cab to where the boat was docked. Each day was a new adventure with a new set of options.
As the days passed, the weather improved and we finally had the perfect Norweigan ski descent on the last day of the trip. For the first time during our adventure we woke up to bluebird skies and decided to ski a peak called Storgalten. Upon reaching the top of the peak could see mountains, water, and our sailboat. Thrilled with the descent, Pete, Katie and Magnus celebrated it with a plunge into the fjord. We then set sail back to Harstad, our final destination, with Storgalten still in view. Weeks later, I’m still amazed by the diversity and accessibility of the terrain found in the Lofoten Islands. I have been lucky enough to ski and climb in mountains all over this world and this trip was truly unique. What made it all the more special to me was being able to share it with my father and a group of close friends that got along seamlessly on a 44-foot sailboat for seven days.
RMI Guide JJ Justman reached the summit of Mt. Rainier on Wednesday, June 4th, 2013, marking his 200th summit of the mountain. JJ has been a mountain guide for eighteen years, leading climbers on climbs and expeditions around the world, from Mt. Rainier to Alaska to the Andes to the Himalaya, including Mt. Everest.
“People often ask me how I can climb Rainier day in and day out year after year, if it ever gets old? And my answer is always the same. No,” said Justman. “I climb Rainier to share the experience with first time climbers. I see the emotion on people’s faces as they come down from the mountain as they say, “I can’t believe I did that”! And now with 200 summits I have seen and heard that a lot from hundreds of people. And it never gets old. I look forward to sharing the unforgettable experience with many others as I climb towards 300!”
Below is a compilation of photos from JJ’s climbs over the years. We wish JJ a big congratulations and many more safe climbs to come!
- The RMI Team
On May 8-10th RMI Guides Zeb Blais and Tyler Jones took advantage of the good weather in the Pacific Northwest to do a multi-day ski mountaineering tour on Mt. Rainier. The duo spent three days on the mountain and skied an incredible total of 21,000 vertical feet!
We caught up with Zeb and Tyler before their next mountaineering adventure.
RMI: On the first day of your trip you left from Paradise and skinned to Camp Muir. What were the conditions like?
Zeb Blais: The conditions getting to [Camp] Muir were ideal with fast-gliding and supportable corn snow that made for quick travel.
Tyler Jones: The warm afternoon snow conditions gave us a chance to get in a nice ski run in on the Cowlitz Glacier after we reached Camp Muir. At the same time, it provided us with a good trail for the morning to climb the Gibraltar Ledges Route to the summit. From there, our plan was to traverse to Liberty Cap to get a view of the big runs!
RMI: That night you left Camp Muir with the intention of skiing Liberty Ridge. Were you able to ski that line?
Zeb Blais: The key to skiing big exposed lines is always the snow conditions. When you’re looking at skiing a line like Liberty [Ridge] you can only know what the conditions are like when you get there. We were hoping that the north and northeast facing snow would be chalky, smooth, and wind packed, but when we looked at the entrance to Liberty it was clear that it wasn’t going to be skiable. The Liberty Ridge Route looked like mid-summer, maybe good for ice climbing, but certainly not skiable. The Liberty Cap Glacier was down to blue ice with lumps of rime glued to it, which I imagine is fairly common since it is so steep, but the skiing below looked the same. Rappelling the Liberty Cap Glacier and skiing the rest of the line did not look like an inviting option.
RMI: What did you end up skiing instead?
Zeb Blais: After realizing that Liberty was not suitable, we turned our focus to the Mowich Face - an amazing, steep face on the northwest side of the mountain. This looked tempting at first, but it was heavily rimed with blobs of water ice. It was not a place to be on skis! We retreated back to the ridge above and decided we needed to focus on warmer, spring like-snow. We decided on the Sickle, a west-facing chute on the Tahoma Glacier. The snow in the Sickle was prime for skiing!
Tyler Jones: On our ski we had nice soft spring snow down to 8,500 feet. From there we were able traverse to our objective for the next day: Success Ridge between the South Tahoma Glacier and the Success Glacier. We spent the night on the ridge, getting some well-deserved sleep, with the magnificent 4,000-foot Success Glacier Couloir above us waiting to be skied. The conditions on the Success Glacier were superb. The snow was firm for climbing and soft for skiing. After the amazing fall line decent, we continued traversing to [the trailhead at] Paradise. As we hit the Nisqually Glacier we added more vertical to our trip and finished at the Nisqually Bridge. In total Zeb and I traveled 24 miles, gaining 19,000 feet and skiing 21,000 feet in 3 days.
RMI: How does being a Guide help prepare you for trips like this?
Tyler Jones: Being a guide helps to develop your intuitive mountain sense, which is very important for making good decisions in the mountains. It is that gut feeling that can make all the difference.
Zeb Blais: Guiding also gives me a good base-line fitness for doing long days in the mountains. Mountaineering is a unique sport that requires specific techniques and fitness to be efficient. The more you do it the better you get!
RMI: What was your favorite part of this ski trip?
Tyler Jones: My favorite part of this trip was seeing a few new places, skiing a new run, and enjoying the views of the Tahoma Glacier from Sunset Ridge.
Zeb Blais: A huge part of the trip was sharing it with Tyler. Moving in the mountains with a partner who you enjoy and trust makes all the difference. There are thousands of big and small decisions to be made when doing a trip like this, from what gear to bring to what line to ski to ‘do we go left here or right?’ Making these choices and learning from other experienced climbers or guides is always something I enjoy.
Can’t forget skiing! Maybe I should have said this first, but the skiing was awesome! Steep, exposed skiing with great snow is one of the most exhilarating things a person can do.
RMI: What adventures do you have planned next?
Zeb Blais: I am guiding a mountaineering trip on Shasta at the end of the month, and then I’ll be back on Rainier for the climbing season with a Denali West Buttress trip at the end of June.
Tyler Jones: I am guiding a Denali trip in June. After that I am planning on flying back onto the mountain for a ski trip with my fiancé Laura. After that I will return to guiding on Rainier and the Grand Teton. Then, I am getting married in September!
Posted by: | May 12, 2013
Categories: *Guide News
RMI’s guides would like to recognize the special women behind the scenes at RMI Expeditions.
Autumn, Sarah, Lacey, Melissa, and Bridget are our office support system, ensuring that all of our trips run seamlessly. Thank you for your hard work, reliability, and flexibility. Your contributions to RMI are appreciated and recognized by all of us.
Other special mothers on staff include our shuttle drivers, Mara, Jennifer, and Lola! We could not be more grateful for your enthusiasm, support, and for your treats on warm summer days!
Finally, a special thank you to our mothers. Thank you for continually supporting our passion for exploring the mountains.
From Everest to Ashford, we wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.
- The RMI Guides
Mark Tucker here at Everest Basecamp (EBC). Home away from home. I recently completed an Everest Basecamp Trek and Island Peak climb. Always a pleasure to share this amazing place with adventure travelers. I had a great time. Hope the return home for my team went smooth. Thank you all.
Back at EBC, I am settling in. Getting organized is always a bit of work but much appreciated as our team’s prepare for the rotations to the upper camps. Now that the organizing is done, I opened up the local grocery store for the team. They went shopping for their food to be consumed at Camp 1 on their upcoming nights. They plan to head full force thru the Icefall in the early AM, looking at three nights on the hill. The team looks great, ready to get into meat of the climb. We did take time out to build the horseshoe pits and get in a couple games. Burrito night tonight. A favorite meal here at EBC.
On The Map
In February 2013, I spent several weeks in West Papua with the express intention of connecting with villagers who live along the trek followed by our Carstensz Pyramid climbing programs. I traveled with two translators - one a long-time friend who grew up in West Papua and the other a member of the Moni tribe, a man who truly has a good heart for his people.
I visited about ten villages and had numerous trailside chats. I spent many hours chatting (as well as eating, and playing soccer & table tennis!) and had opportunities to share our vision with various folks: government officials, village elders, tribal chiefs, pastors and school teachers.
The constant thread throughout the conversations involved villagers expressing frustration with tourists who came to “take photographs” and “take summits” but who did not (as it was described to me) “give relationship.” It is understandable that folks were upset when they weren’t paid as promised by unscrupulous outfitters or when they felt unsafe being asked to porter into the high country (the tribal peoples have not traditionally traveled above the jungles, see story below), but it truly resonated with me that when they felt most disrespected was when they were treated as if they were nothing more than pack animals. Quite frankly, they explained, why should they leave their tribal community and upset their daily lives only to be mistreated or underpaid?
|The Moni name for Carstensz is Mbai Ngela. It means “Forbidden Egg.” The story is that in years gone by when the mountain was snow covered, it resembled an egg, and the fore-fathers forbade their people from going there because it was the hunting grounds of evil spirits and those spirits always killed those who ventured there. Even today, villagers have a very difficult time understanding the science of hypothermia and often will point to and tell of places along the way where the spirits have killed a poor wayfarer!|
I knew that in order to eat this elephant, I would need to take it one bite at a time, so I started with small bites of “giving relationship.” I found that when I played soccer (which I am convinced is the lingua franca of relationship) with the local men and boys on village airstrips, that we had laughs to share (mostly at me tripping on the uneven surface!); when I offered to show folks photos of my family, they showed me their village (!); and for all my “otherness” (some folks, I was told, had never seen white-skinned people), I was never denied the hospitality of a meal or a hut as respite from the rain.
Another small bite was the creation of the protocols (below) to be posted in a church along our route. The pastor in this village of twenty people, a good man named Atan, had initially wanted to run me off. I agreed to keep walking, but in deepening the conversation as to why, I learned that an earlier group of tourists had – in his word – “desecrated” the church by leaving garbage there. I whole-heartedly agreed that such practices were unacceptable, and offered to create protocols to instruct tourists how to behave. Through my translators I was able to build a simple list of what it would take for his village to feel respected. They fully wanted tourists to stop for the night but they also needed tourists to respect that privilege.
As I look forward to my next trip, I hope to take a few more bites of the elephant!
THE SUGAPA ROUTE VISITOR PROTOCOLS
This church serves an important role in the community. Guests are welcomed to find refuge here and are asked respect the following requests. This will help ensure use of the building for future travelers.
• Please stay off of the raised area which surrounds the altar. This area is for local religious personnel only and it is considered offensive if others trespass there.
• Please keep hot water, stoves & cookware out of the building. This helps keep the area clean.
• Please hang a trash bag just outside the building to collect your garbage. Villagers will burn your trash for you.
• Because of the importance of Sunday worship, travelers should not expect access to the building on Saturday evenings or Sundays.
• Please do not use the church grounds or property for toilet needs. Ask the Pastor of the church where it is appropriate to wash and use the bathroom.
• Please offer a donation for your use of the church. This is an appropriate and considerate way of expressing thanks.
Download a multi-lingual copy of the Sugapa Route Visitor Protocols here.
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