- 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
Follow this link to Tyler’s blog for more exciting photos!
Posted by: | December 14, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
From Expedition Dispatches, to interviews, to new records set by RMI Guides, see what the this year’s top 10 most popular posts on the RMI Blog!
I’ve just returned to Washington after taking part in a six day Avalanche Level 3 course in Jackson, WY. ‘Avy 3’ is the highest level of formal avalanche training in the US. It is a professional level course designed for Guides, Ski Patrollers and other avalanche forecasters. Read more…
Mountain Climbing has a high requirement for energy. Quality nutrition is a key component of training success. In this conversation with Registered Dietician Sally Hara of Kirkland, Washington, I had a chance to ask some of the questions which often come up in training for mountaineering. Read More…
On Saturday, May 26th at 9:31 a.m. Nepali time the RMI 2012 Mt. Everest Expedition reached the summit! RMI Guides Dave Hahn and Melissa Arnot led the team of climbers to the summit of Mt. Everest at 29,035’. Read More…
Our team enjoyed a rest day at Camp 2 (ABC) today. Their plan is to head for Camp 3 tomorrow.
This really is the start of the Mt. Everest summit push in my eyes. How the next two days go, can have real impact on the summit day. Read More…
Hello from Everest Base Camp,
I spoke with Dave and Melissa at Camp 3 and WOW did they sound great!
The climbing team left Camp 2 early this morning under perfect conditions. Read More…
I first thought of doing a speed ascent on Rainier late in the summer of 2011. I started guiding with RMI that summer and spent plenty of time that year carrying heavy loads up the Muir snowfield as quickly as possible. I come from a cross-country ski racing background and I raced professionally for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Rossignol Factory Team, and Dartmouth College before that. Read More…
To begin a conditioning plan for mountaineering, first establish the baseline of your current fitness level. This baseline allows you to compare your current strengths to what you’ll need on the climb. With this, we can compose a training plan that builds steady improvement between now and the day you set off for the mountains. Read More…
RMI Founder Lou Whittaker was interviewed last month by the Magic Valley Newspaper in Twin Falls, ID. Lou took some time off from skiing in Sun Valley to sit down and talk about his lifetime of climbing. Read More…
Interval Training is a training technique employed in many endurance sports. It refers to a training session where periods of high intensity effort, followed by rest, are repeated during a training session. Read More…
Katie Bono climbs Mount Rainier in 4 hours, 58 minutes on July 24, 2012.
RMI Guide Katie Bono completed a car-to-car speed ascent of the classic Disappointment Cleaver route. Her effort is significant not only because it sets the female speed record but also because it adds a female presence to a list which had been exclusively male dominated. Read More…
Posted by: | December 13, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
From videos shot by RMI Climbers to interviews with RMI Guides and clips from the world’s greatest peaks, see 2012’s top ten most viewed videos from the RMI Video Collection!
10: CONGRATULATIONS SETH WATERFALL, 100 RAINIER SUMMITS
9: MELISSA ARNOT TRAINS TO CLIMB MAKALU
8: MEET JJ JUSTMAN
7: DAVE HAHN: 14TH EVEREST SUMMIT
6: MT. McKINLEY WEATHER WITH DAVE HAHN
5. RMI CLIMBER VIDEO: PANORAMIC ECUADOR
4. MELISSA ARNOT INTERVIEW
3. CLIMBING MEXICO’S VOLCANOES: VIDEO BY JJ JUSTMAN
2. EXTREME ECUADOR: CULTURE AND CLIMB
1. ACONCAGUA SUMMIT DAY: VIDEO BY JJ JUSTMAN
RMI Guide Katie Bono completed a speed ascent of Mt. Rainier on July 24th, ascending from the Paradise Parking Lot to the summit of Mt. Rainier and returning to Paradise in 4:58. Her ascent is believed to be the fastest ascent of Mt. Rainier by a female climber. Here, Katie describes her climb:
I first thought of doing a speed ascent on Rainier late in the summer of 2011. I started guiding with RMI that summer and spent plenty of time that year carrying heavy loads up the Muir snowfield as quickly as possible. I come from a cross-country ski racing background and I raced professionally for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Rossignol Factory Team, and Dartmouth College before that. I quit ski racing in 2011 but soon realized that I missed the feeling of pushing myself hard and finding my limits. As a result, this summer I found myself thinking about a speed attempt more frequently. It seemed like a cool way to push myself in a way I hadn’t before. When I first started thinking about it, I was planning for something in the sub-7:00 range. As a way to test the waters, I did a hike up the Muir Snowfield in early July trying to simulate a manageable pace to the summit and ended up with a time of 1:36. My time for running back down the Muir Snowfield was 38 min, including a stop to chat with friends. After that, I sat down, did the math, and figured that if I could do 1:45 to Camp Muir (elevation gain of ~4600’), 1:45 from Camp Muir to the summit (~4400’), 1:00 back to Camp Muir, and 0:30 to Paradise, I could do it in 5 hours. The big questions were:
1. Whether I could maintain pace all the way up to 14k of altitude and 3.5 hours of uphill hiking, and
2. If taking an hour to get from the summit to Camp Muir would feel at all unsafe. I didn’t want to do the climb recklessly - it was just a fun and unique challenge.
The next step was figuring out my gear plan. Fortunately, I’ve had a very full schedule on Rainier this summer, and as a result, I had lots of time to think about logistics at Camp Muir while trying to fall asleep at 6:00 P.M. I decided the best plan would be to wear running shoes, specifically a pair of shoes with built-in gaiters I had lying around. I would wear YakTrax to Camp Muir and up to around 12,000. After that, the route gets steep enough and snowy enough that I would don aluminum strap-on crampons over my running shoes. I checked out the forecast for the summit and used my experience from ski racing to figure out clothing strategies for racing hard in the cold - I would wear lightweight climbing pants, a base layer top, a super-lightweight hooded down jacket, and belay gloves as my layering system. I also decided to bring along some gels and sports drink in a water belt.
When the day came, I woke up groggy and sleep-deprived. I had picked up my boyfriend and fellow RMI guide at the airport the previous evening and hadn’t gotten back to Ashford until the wee hours. Driving up the road to Paradise in the morning, I realized I forgot both my YakTrax, and my sunscreen. Oh well, you only live once. So I kept on driving up. I got out of the car, tuned my iPod to some electronic music, and was off and running (or, more precisely, rest-stepping). It was a beautiful morning, and perfect for climbing. I had picked that day for good weather and good route conditions - the Disappointment Cleaver route is fast, direct, and reasonably safe right now so all systems were a go. I started off around 6 a.m. so I could hit the snow conditions just right for ideal ascending and descending. Having climbed the route two days prior, I had a solid sense of how to time it. The lack of YakTrax turned out to be not an issue - the snow was just grippy enough to make it work.
I reached Camp Muir at 1:38 on the timer, grabbed my crampons that I had cached earlier (and convinced some friends to set out for me), and dropped down onto the Cowlitz Glacier. The next big hurdle was climbing the Disappointment Cleaver. The whole way up, I had been walking at a very high cadence to minimize fatigue, but the rockiness of the Cleaver made it pretty much impossible to do that and it was a difficult stretch. After the Cleaver, the upper mountain was a haze of looking alternately at my feet, the rate of ascent function on my watch, and at the remainder of the mountain to climb. I hit the crater rim at 3:30 on the time, sprinted (a.k.a. walked) across the crater rim over to Columbia Crest, did a quick gaze around the whole panorama of the Cascades, and headed down. The crampons gave me just enough purchase to feel very safe running downhill, and I made it back to Camp Muir about 45 minutes after reaching the summit. I passed the RMI groups on the way down, and they offered to radio the crew at Camp Muir to get out some Gatorade and baby wipes for me (the most uncomfortable part of the climb, hands down, was the massive salt deposits on my face. However, they possibly helped prevent the outrageous sunburn I somehow avoided).
After reaching Muir, I had 35 minutes to get back down to Paradise, but I was starting to falter. I sprinted down through the sun cupped snow, trying not to fall with all my stabilizer muscles maxed to their limit and hit the trail leading back to Paradise. At this point I was looking at my watch, fairly convinced that I was going to get to the parking lot just over 5 hours. And, not that stuff like that really matters, but it’s somehow infinitely more satisfying to dip just under than just over. So I focused in, tried not to terrify too many tourists with my mad dash, and reached the bottom of the steps at Paradise at 4:58:41. I stumbled around glassy-eyed in the parking lot for a while, and then drove back home to get ready to climb the next day. All in all, it was a great climb — I definitely surpassed my own expectations, and it was incredibly fun to be able to do it with the cheering and good vibes of all the other people on the route that day going for their own summits.
Katie Bono climbs Mount Rainier in 4 hours, 58 minutes on July 24, 2012.
RMI Guide Katie Bono completed a car-to-car speed ascent of the classic Disappointment Cleaver route. Her effort is significant not only because it sets the female speed record but also because it adds a female presence to a list which had been exclusively male dominated.
Bono described the route, which she climbed 12 times, as straight-forward and direct, minus the rocky section of Disappointment Cleaver itself, where she expressed difficulty keeping “the high-RPM, small steps” she was able to use on the remainder of the route.
The first known speed ascent was made by Lou and Jim Whittaker, with John Day, in 1959 (7 hours, 20 minutes). Craig Van Hoy (5 hours, 25 minutes; 1981), Justin Merle (4:49:35; July 9, 2008), and Liam O’Sullivan (4:46:29; August 5, 2008), all former Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. guides, successfully lowered the record times until September 17, 2008 when renowned guide Willie Benegas completed the round trip in 4:40:59. Benegas’ record currently stands.
Posted by: | June 17, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
It’s June already. Do you have a Mount Rainier climb planned this summer? If so, you are probably at the peak of your training efforts and devoting a good amount of energy and time to preparing your body for the big climb. Many people ask, “What’s the most important thing for training right now?”
If you are less than a week away from your climb, you’ll want to rest. By all means, do some activity — but just enough to keep you moving — not so much that you arrive fatigued. You’ll want to maximize your sleep and relaxation this week. Also, be sure that you’re eating plenty of carbohydrates to ensure you start the climb with a full tank.
If your climb is still a few weeks or even months away, then you have a great opportunity to add to your endurance.
I like to keep things simple. My recommendation to people training for mountaineering is to include at least one long hike each week. How long? Well, your summit day will start in the middle of the night and you may well be climbing and descending for upwards of 14 hours. So, it’s important to condition yourself to be on your feet for that long.
Practically, if you live near Mt. Rainier you can train on any number of long steep hikes in the area, or even hike up to Camp Muir for practice. One big weekly hike is my minimum, but if you can you’ll benefit from back-to-back days of hiking, or maybe even sneak in a midweek hike as well. A man I know was out of shape with only two months to go before his Mt. Rainier climb. He realized he was behind on his training, took vacation time, and hiked Mt. Si, near Seattle, eighteen times in one month! I thought it was a bit extreme and advised him to pay attention to his knees and joints, but he did it — and he made it all the way to the summit and back.
If you live in a flat city you can still get in good training. I’ve done urban hikes before to get in condition for a climb. Once, when I was getting ready for a big climb while I lived in London, UK, I would put a metal weight and some water-bottles in a pack and walk all day, stopping at restaurants to eat and visiting the occasional museum. It’s fun and a great way to see a city. This winter in Seattle I set a goal of walking three miles each day. It’s great for the feet, legs, and back and it’s easy to plan to walk places instead of driving. Arrive at work or a friend’s house and tell them you walked — you’ll inspire them too! It might be tough to get elevation in flatter regions, but don’t let that stop you from building endurance.
If you can’t hike or walk anywhere then bicycling is about as close as you can get to hiking as an alternative. It works the same energy-systems and many of the same muscle groups. If you do a lot of cycling, also do jumping exercises, perhaps even get a jump-rope and use it for a few minutes every day. That will help with the coming-down part of the climb. Cycling builds strength and endurance but doesn’t replicate the impact of stepping down. The combination of both is very effective.
Top three tips for June:
1. Make the main thing - the main thing: It’s a long endurance climb with a 35lb pack. Go long in training and wear a pack when possible.
2. Back up your long hikes with shorter sessions: 60 - 90 minute efforts at a higher intensity. Stairs, stair-master, elliptical machine, cycling or spin class are good options.
3. Mix up your training: Some long and steady ‘conversational’ pace sessions; some hard and steady; some intervals of 1 minute of very hard effort followed by 1 minute of rest.
A parting thought: I used to get close to a climb and worry that I hadn’t done enough of this or of that. Right now you’ve done what you’ve done. Its best to take out a calendar, figure out how many long hikes you can fit in, block out those time and then use the other days for shorter sessions. Take a day or two of rest as well, you’ll benefit from doing so. As the guides will tell you on the mountain, don’t worry about tomorrow or next week, just focus on now. Focus on how you can complete — and enjoy — today’s workout. You’ve trained hard and what you do now will make a difference on the mountain.
Author of Fit By Nature by Mountaineers Books.
For more information please see our resources for mountaineering fitness and training.
On Sunday, June 3, the historic Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier National Park hosted a Tribute to Nawang Gombu. The much-anticipated event promised to be a memorable gathering and, despite the fickle weather, it definitely lived up to expectations!
By 4:00PM the grand lobby was overflowing with family and friends gathered to honor the memory of the man who, all agreed, was a remarkable individual in terms of physical strength, mental determination, and above everything else, humility. Several family members even journeyed from India to attend. Gombu’s daughter, Yangdu, received a plaque from Mt. Rainier National Park Superintendent Randy King, recognizing her father’s years of service at Mt. Rainier.
Needless to say, the climbing community was well represented, with Lou & Jim Whittaker (along with their families) topping the bill. Jim recounted a story when he and Gombu were on the summit of Mt Everest in 1963: He asked the soon-to-become-famous Sherpa what he was thinking; what was going through his mind in that historic moment; and received the succinct reply, “Getting down!”
In the crowd were numerous professional mountain guides who worked with Gombu on Mt Rainier, as well as past clients of RMI fortunate enough to rope up with him during their summit climbs. Phinjo Gombu, Gombu’s son and also a former RMI guide, accepted a special plaque from RMI’s Lou Whittaker, Peter Whittaker, and myself. Phinjo then delivered a moving account of his father’s life, from boyhood to becoming a mountaineering icon. Through it all, Phinjo recalled, Gombu remained humble and unassuming. As he put it, “He [Gombu] simply loved the mountains.” Everyone in the building related to that sentiment.
2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the 1982 American Everest Expedition, led by Lou Whittaker, of which Gombu was a member. Several former RMI guides and participants on the expedition were in attendance, including Larry Nielson, the first American to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen (1983). Gombu used to refer to Larry as “the Animal” and with good reason!
Near the great fireplace at the west end of the lobby easels displayed photos from numerous expeditions on which Gombu participated: Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, and Nanda Devi. He also guided an RMI Mt. McKinley Expedition in the late 1970’s, with his friend Phil Ershler. A silent auction was ongoing throughout the evening, bidding on famous photos and mountaineering books autographed by Lou Whittaker, Jim Whittaker, and Dee Molenaar among others.
Of course, nothing elicits memories more effectively than film and the medium was presented in abundance: Gombu as a young man on early expeditions; the electrifying final steps to the top of Everest on May 1, 1963 with Big Jim; the ’82 China-Everest North Wall and ’89 Kanchenjunga expeditions. These clips represented but a few snippets of a lifetime spent in the high mountains.
Then suddenly, shortly after 9:00PM, someone burst into Paradise Inn proclaiming, “The Mountain’s out! The Mountain’s out!” Talk about your mass exodus. The lobby all but emptied in a matter of moments as everyone grabbed cameras and cell phones or simply went outside to look for themselves. The summit of Rainier, hidden behind clouds throughout the day, was there in all its glory. The Tatoosh Range was bathed in shades of evening’s glow, while Rainier’s distant summit loomed stark and foreboding. It fit the occasion. Mt Rainier’s upper reaches are the realm of the mountaineer, of which Nawang Gombu represented the highest ideal. As guide and climber, husband and father and very special friend, his memory will be kept alive in the high mountains.
Special thanks to Ingrid & Lou Whittaker for all their efforts in organizing and promoting this truly memorable event.
Posted by: | June 01, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
Drawing will take place Oct. 10, 2013 and valid only for 2013 Summer Climbs. Prize includes cost of climb only and does not include any additional travel, lodging, equipment, or meal expenses incurred with the climb.
Winner will be notified via email. One entry per person. To enter visit the RMI Facebook eNewsletter Page to sign up or visit RMI at one of the Seattle Sounders games during the dates mentioned above.
I recently completed the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) 10 day Rock Instructor Course (RIC) held at Smith Rock near my home town of Bend, Oregon. The RIC is the first in a series of courses by the AMGA to become certified as a rock or alpine climbing guide. The course exceeded all expectations by provided valuable knowledge and techniques that I can apply not only to rock guiding but to Rainier and much of my personal climbing.
During the 10 days, the weather ranged from sweating in a t-shirts to shivering in a down Jacket and although it threatened rain or even snow at times, the weather held nicely the whole course. The Canadian geese had arrived for nesting and were an ever present entertainment of squawking and fighting for nesting sites in the background. What really made this course for me were the quality people I met both instructors and students. We had three instructors that each brought years of unique experiences and different skill sets to the table. This gave a diverse prospective on each topic and provided many learning opportunities. The group dynamic with the other students was awesome and created a very fun learning atmosphere that yielded new friends. My RIC was made financially possible though the RMI / First Ascent Guide Grant and I want to thank them for their generous contribution to the course tuition as I look forward to future courses with the AMGA.
Posted by: | April 17, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
RMI Guide JJ Justman began guiding for RMI in 1998 and his climbing and guiding resume includes a long list of notable peaks from all corners of the world. We recently caught up with JJ to hear about his guiding career and his latest pursuits.
RMI: Where have you been climbing this winter?
JJ: This winter I have been climbing in a few of my favorite places. I first went down to Argentina to lead another expedition on South America’s highest peak, Aconcagua. It was nice to stand on top at 22,841 feet and it was my 14th summit. Unfortunately I was only able to do one expedition there. Usually, I like to climb Aconcagua twice. Instead in February I returned to the States and led a Winter Expedition Skills Seminar on Mount Rainier. We had a great team of climbers and in the beginning the weather was fantastic. We made it up to Camp Muir on a beautiful day but in typical fashion, winter crept back in and it was nasty as ever. This may seem like a downer when on a climb but it’s actually a lot of fun to be in that kind of weather. You end up learning a lot about how to survive in bad conditions. That winter expedition ended on a Friday and the next day I flew to Mexico to guide the Mexican Volcanoes Ixta and Orizaba, another favorite climb of mine. It had been awhile since I had been down to Mexico and I simply forgot not only how fun the climbing is but how amazing the food is. You don’t know Mexican food until you’ve been to Puebla.
RMI: You’ve been guiding for the better part of two decades, what are a couple of highlights from your guiding career?
JJ: Boy, that is a great question. I have many highlights. The first is having guided on Rainier since 1998 pretty much day in and day out for the summer season. I have 188 summits but what I love is having shared those summits with literally over a thousand people. I love climbing Rainier so much for that reason. You are always climbing with new folks, many of whom are mountaineering for the first time. Another highlight has been my Himalayan career. I’ve climbed on 6 of the 14 8000 meter peaks. I did not summit on all of them. On the contrary. However, I’ve guided and led safe and successful expeditions in some rather inhospitable environments. Simply experiencing those landscapes is something that cannot be explained, you have to literally do it and see it for yourself to understand its beauty. Out of all the Himalayan expeditions I have done, Dhaulagiri, which is the seventh highest in the world stands out for me. It was 2002, my first Himalayan 8000 meter peak. It is a mountain not many people attempt and our small climbing team was the only expedition there that year. Talk about cool! It felt like we were the original explorers in that region to discover and attempt climbing the mountain. It was steep, the weather was relentlessly horrible and we tried to summit on three separate occasions. And every time the weather screamed at us “No”. Regardless, we made it up just shy of the summit and our team was one of the greatest teams I have climbed with. A well knit group. I could go on and on but I’ll stop it there. Those are a few of my highlights.
RMI: How has guiding changed for you over the years?
JJ: Guiding for me is like any other industry. Things change. Things evolve. For me, I have taken the attitude of being a life-long learner. Every year there are new tips, new tricks, new methods about short roping, anchors, crevasse rescue, and emergency medicine. I enjoy learning new ways to do things and most of the time I am learning these things from younger guides who are going through their own official education in guiding. I don’t want to be the “old guy” who is stuck in the past thinking “my way is the best way”. There is always something to learn. I’ve also been fortunate to be mentored by some of the best mountain guides in the world. And I find the most important skill a guide can have and often the most difficult to learn is the “soft skills” of communication. Great guides have great empathy. Personally I learned this on my summit of Everest in 2004. Coming back down off the summit I was utterly exhausted! And I remember thinking, “this is what my clients on Rainier feel like after making the summit!” I climb Rainier so much I am used to it but for someone who has never done it, well, they get exhausted. A good guide can empathize with their fellow climbers because we have all been there, we have all felt that uncomfortable pain of exhaustion. It’s a bitter sweet aspect of standing on top of big mountains, whether it is Rainier, Denali, Aconcagua, or Everest.
RMI: You create some great short videos from your climbs, how did you get interested in creating those?
JJ: I became interested in making videos of my climbs because of the dispatches I used to do for my Himalayan climbs: it was fun to share photos and videos of the climbs. Families and friends of the climbers enjoyed seeing their loved ones and the environment they were in. On Rainier, one of the things guides would hear is about how people wish they would have taken more photos. Of course the main objective is to summit and climbers have enough to focus on. So I shoot video throughout the climb and then do a quick down and dirty edit and post the video for anyone to see on a Facebook Page called “The Guiding Life”. For me, shooting video on a climb is just part of the job. My camera is connected to my ski pole so all I have to do is push a button so it doesn’t distract from my main responsibilities of guiding. And people have really enjoyed and appreciated being able to see themselves in action on the mountain.
RMI: What do you enjoy most about being a mountain guide?
JJ: What I enjoy most about being a mountain guide is taking people into one of the most beautiful environments in the world. When you look at a mountain from down below like 99% of people do, they think it is beautiful. Spectacular even. However, when you stand up on that mountain looking down below, it is a completely different world. And it is amazing. Again, it is something you don’t understand until you see it with your own eyes. In order to stand on any mountain’s summit a person has to be tough. You must break through that mental barrier that says “I don’t know if I can do this.” Keeping climbers safe in an environment that can be dangerous and coaching them through tough situations to accomplish great things is what I love about guiding. For some folks climbing Rainier is the most unbelievable thing they have ever done. For some others they get the climbing bug and have to go higher. No matter what, I love sharing the raw power of just being in the mountains. Experiencing one of the most beautiful places you can be.
RMI: You’ve done over 15 Expeditions to Aconcagua, what advice do you have for climbers looking to climb South America’s highest mountain?
JJ: To date, I have done 16 expeditions to Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. For many climbers, Aconcagua is the first real “expedition style” climb they do. So there is a little bit of learning you have to do, some subtle differences from a typical climb. One of the biggest obstacles people face is boredom. Expedition climbs like Aconcagua are all about patience. You have to have patience. You have to acclimatize properly, which means on days you are feeling great, you may have to rest and just take it easy. Weather will always come in and you will have to wait out a storm. You have to be patient. Again, it is the mental game that gets most people on climbs. You have to be tough. Tough beats Strong every time. And if you are tough and hang in there you will be rewarded with the most amazing view South America has to offer.
RMI: What does your upcoming climbing season look like?
JJ: My upcoming climbing season for 2012 is another whirlwind but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will be on Mount Rainier from beginning to end, May through September. However, I am excited to have a two week stint where I will be going back to Russia to guide Mount Elbrus. I am really looking forward to that climb because it is with some folks I have climbed with a lot all over the world. I missed that point when talking about what I enjoy most about guiding. I love developing friendships where over the years I get to share in more and more climbing experiences with the same people. After my tour in Russia and on Rainier I will be leading a Mexico’s Volcanoes trip in October before I head back to Argentina in late November where I will be leading two expeditions on Aconcagua, one starting December 3 and the other starting January 2. It’s still early in the game but there is already talk of the Himalayas, a place I always want to return to.
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