- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katie Bono
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- 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
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Erik 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
Posted by: | February 16, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
RMI Guide Gilbert Chase has been guiding for RMI since 2010. An accomplished rock and alpine climber, Gilbert’s winter is busy travelling the world on climbing and skiing adventures. We caught up with Gilbert after her recent Aconcagua Expedition to hear about the climb.
RMI: It’s been a busy start to the year for you with an Aconcagua Expedition and a Rainier Expeditions Skills Seminar - Winter. Tell us about it!
It has been a very busy start to 2012 for me. I flew down to Mendoza, Argentina at the start of January for my first Aconcagua Expedition. It was a great trip overall. Working with such a great group of folks as well as guides made the trip a very memorable experience. I had spent time in Argentina many years ago, so I was very excited to get back down there and check things out again. Both the mountain and the culture are beautiful and I highly recommend this trip for anyone who wants a challenging but wonderful mountain adventure mixed with great local flavor.
I flew back to the states around the 1st of February and within a couple of days I was driving out to WA for a Winter Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier. We had high hopes of a winter summit with a high-pressure system in the forecast. However, the reality of winter on Mt. Rainier with high winds and lots of precipitation kept our team at Camp Muir. Despite the bad weather, spirits were still high and we had a great week on the mountain teaching and learning skills to prepare us for future trips. Trying to do crevasse rescue in 40 mph winds with no visibility proved very challenging and very fun for most.
RMI: Aconcagua marked your first International Expedition for RMI, what were you’re initial impressions of Aconcagua?
Overall, I thought Aconcagua was a beautiful mountain. At 22,840’, it rises out of a colorful river valley to sit high above the surrounding mountains. I am a rock climber at heart, so for me all of the rock on the mountain, although not very good, was amazing. I was constantly looking for different cracks or faces that I could come back and climb. While we were on the mountain, it snowed almost every other day so there was a fresh coat of paint making the mountain look even more striking. I think even more than the mountain itself, I loved the local culture that surrounds every inch. Plaza Argentina, which is our Base Camp, is filled with local porters and cooks making a living by way of the mountain. It is such a unique and cool place to experience.
RMI: How do you think Aconcagua compares to Denali?
I think Aconcagua and Denali are very similar in many ways. I think Aconcagua is a good first step if people want a little more experience before Denali. Aconcagua is a big expedition but still with a few luxuries, such as great dinners at Base Camp and mules carrying our gear into Base Camp. Summit day on Aconcagua is a long and tiring day that requires not only physical but mental endurance. For me, the weather on my Aconcagua Expedition was way better than Denali, so that made life much easier. We had a pretty warm summit day, although still wearing down pants and down parka, but it is all relative when climbing in the mountains.
RMI: Did you find any big difference between guiding an international expedition and guiding here in the U.S.?
For the most part, guiding internationally and guiding stateside are very similar. The principles of guiding are the same no matter where you go. I think logistics can be the hardest part of an international expedition, especially when speaking a foreign language. On our expedition, we had an issue with delayed luggage and many phone calls with the local airlines that made our lives much more difficult. However, once on the mountain, I felt at home and comfortable working with clients.
RMI: What recommendations do you have for climbers looking to head to Aconcagua?
The route we climb on Aconcagua is not a technical route so I do not feel people need a lot of climbing experience before heading on this expedition. Obviously the more time spent in the mountains makes any expedition easier, but everything can be learned while on this mountain. I think being in the best shape of your life is a necessity, as we are carrying heavy loads most days and climbing at high altitude. Being in great shape makes life easier while climbing a mountain, because it is one less thing to think about and allows you to enjoy the experience that much more. I think everyone who is interested in climbing big mountains should head down south to Aconcagua. Not only is it a beautiful, big mountain, but the local Argentine people and culture make this trip very rewarding. Eating amazing beef while drinking a glass of tasty Malbec at 14,000’ after a day of climbing…what more can you ask for?
RMI: What will you definitely bring next time you return to Aconcagua?
My thermos goes with me on every expedition. It is great to have a hot drink whenever I want and not have to wait for the stoves to boil water at 19,000’. Also I bring my approach shoes on the mountain with me so I can get out of my boots after a long day of climbing. A good book and iPod go a long way as well especially when you are tired of talking with your tentmate about the weather. I pack pretty light so I can’t say there was anything extra I brought.
RMI: Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the Expedition?
On the long two day walk out from Base Camp, we got some local beta from the Arrieros [local muleteers] about a short cut that would save us a few miles. Although the short cut was a lot more beautiful and exciting it was definitely not shorter - in fact I think it was probably longer. We had to cross a river at some point on our trek out and our “short cut” took us through a very swift thigh deep section of the river. Most of the folks in our group stripped down to their skivvies to wade through the ice cold water. It was a hilarious scene that provided us with a good amount of comic relief for the day.
RMI: What does the rest of your winter look like?
In two weeks, fellow RMI Guide Jason Thompson and I are flying over to France to ski and climb for a few weeks. We are going to meet up with RMI Guide Tyler Jones who is ski guiding over in La Grave for the winter. We will be skiing and climbing in La Grave as well as Chamonix. They are having an amazing winter so far over in that area so I am super excited to ski some super good powder and climb some sticky ice. We fly back to Montana at the end of March and I will be ready to hang the skis up and dust off the rock climbing shoes. Hopefully, I will head down to the desert for a few weeks of rock scrambling and warm sunshine.
RMI: What are your spring and summer climbing plans?
Even though spring seems so far away at this point, I am really looking forward to rock climbing for the month of April around the desert towers of Utah and the volcanic tuft of central Oregon. On May 1st I fly up to Alaska to start my guiding season in the Alaskan Range. First I will be working the Alaska Mountaineering Seminar from May 1st through May 11th. This will be my first time working this program so I am super excited to be hanging around Base Camp for ten days and climbing some of the amazing peaks in that zone. After the seminar, I start a McKinley West Buttress Climb on May 15. I have not worked a trip this early on Denali before, so I am looking forward to the cold temps and easy walking on the lower Kahiltna Glacier.
I hope the spring and summer finds all of you getting outside and climbing some mountains whether big or small. Enjoy every day and keep a smile on your face.
I am excited to announce that tomorrow I leave for Vail, Colorado, to represent RMI in a mixed climbing competition put on by the Teva Mountain Games. Alongside my passion for guiding individuals up big snowy peaks, I for some reason find the odd sport of scratching up steep rock with ice tools to be downright irresistible. I am blessed to live twenty miles from Hyalite Canyon, Montana, where the art of “drytooling” can put your imagination to the test. No one in the mixed climbing world knows of me so when I sneak up and quietly take the number one spot on the Teva podium and everyone asks, “Who’s that guy?” I can say,” I climb Mt. Rainier for a living”. Wish me luck while I compete with the big boys and take my game to their turf.
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. One of the best parts of the course was interacting with the other participants who all came with a high level of experience. The instructors were top-notch as well, but the best learning opportunity came from the weather. Our course began with a huge winter storm dumping several feet of snow on top of a very weak base. This was a perfect recipe for avalanches and over the remainder of the course we were able to study the cycle as it progressed. It was fascinating to say the least and we were able to sharpen our skills while closely examining the highly unstable snowpack. The ability to take weather reports and our own observations, then build a hypothesis of how the snowpack should behave, followed by then going out into the field and testing our predictions was invaluable. It was a very productive week to say the least! I’m also very thankful for the professionalism of the instructors and the participants. We were able to keep the course very safe while also being able to get the most out of the time we spent in the field.
This January 9 - 20, 2012, RMI Guide Lindsay Mann participated in an AMGA Ski Guide Course in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. First Ascent Athletes Zach and Reggie Crist were among her classmates, and First Ascent Athlete Kent McBride was an instructor. The 12 day course focused on various ski guiding techniques such as belayed skiing, short roping, downhill guiding, pace setting, and navigation skills. The course involved resort skiing, sidecountry skiing, backcountry tours, snowcamping, and a yurt trip. Although the course was ski specific, many of these skills are transferable to glacial guiding. During the course Jackson Hole received over a foot of snow, which made for some great skiing. Lindsay plans to take more AMGA courses in the future.
RMI Guides Lindsay Mann and Pete Van Deventer recently met up in Frisco, Colorado, for the AIARE Level I Avalanche Instructor Training Course. AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) is the main course provider for avalanche courses and training in the United States. For three days Lindsay and Pete along with 16 other future instructors discussed current avalanche knowledge, curriculum material, and teaching techniques. Classroom time was balanced by field sessions, ski touring the very accessible terrain around Vail Pass. While the snowpack so far this year is relatively uninteresting from an avalanche perspective, the opportunity to trade ideas with 16 other peers and watch each other in the field was a great experience for both Lindsay and Pete. Many thanks to First Ascent and RMI for providing a Guide Grant to aid Lindsay and Pete in moving into an avalanche education instructor role. Look for Pete and Lindsay ski touring around the Aspen, Colorado, area when they are not guiding trips on Rainier, Alaska, and beyond for RMI.
Posted by: | January 03, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
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. Check out the article: Famous Mountain Climber Lou Whittaker Talks about His Highest Climbs.
Posted by: | January 01, 2012
Categories: *Guide News
RMI Guide Elías de Andrés Martos organized a team of RMI Guides to climb Tibet’s Shishapangma (26, 289’), the world’s 14th highest mountain. The team reached the summit on October 11th & 12th. We sat down with Elías after the expedition to chat with him about the climb.
RMI: What first inspired you to climb Shishapangma?
Elías: I had been hoping to go climb an 8,000 meter peak for awhile. When you have that in your head and you have never been to the Himalayas, at first it looks like any peak - if the opportunity arose - would suffice. For the last couple of years, the objective was looking closer and closer, and the deeper research started. Initially I wanted to climb Dhaulagiri, as it was the dream of one of my mentors who never could do it. But I was determined to go this past fall and it turns out that Dhaulagiri is not the best for the post monsoon season, so I started to look at other mountains. Shishapangma seemed beautiful, rising alone on the Tibetan plateau. Easy access played a key role, as it also diminished the cost. And of course, it offered a relatively “easy” and “safe” line for this, our first, 8000 meter peak.
RMI: Organizing an expedition to an 8000 meter Himalayan peak is a major undertaking, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in simply getting the expedition off of the ground?
Elías: Of course the budget is the main undertaking. It is fairly expensive, particularly when one does it pretty much out of pocket. (We have to thank RMI’s indispensable Guide Grant and First Ascent‘s gear support.) This challenge leads to the difficulty of building a team as well; initially, along with my wife Bridget, I had this trip planned with my two good climbing friends from Spain, but getting 2 months off of work in addition to the funding, made it impossible for them to participate, so I had to start with 0 climbers just 6 months prior to the trip, when everything was logistically planned. Luckily, working for RMI made it easy to “collect” good friends for the expedition. Jake Beren, Geoff Schellens, Eric Frank, and Leon Davis were memorable companions. Ironically, the logistics were fairly easy, thanks to the internet and to Nima, our great contact in the Himalayas.
RMI: How did your previous climbing and guiding experience prepare you for the climbing and organizational challenges of the expedition?
Elías: That experience was probably a good 50% of the success of the trip. Having been on expeditions in other parts of the world is a great help that teaches you how to quickly act when facing problems or difficult situations, whether logistics or interactions with the local people. You come up with solutions or new plans on the go and deal with it.
The climbing and guiding experience among all of us on the team was definitely another great plus. Without much talking, we know what you have to do in different situations and the flow of the climb is as smooth as it can be as a result. Being a professional in the field, that usually works towards helping others achieve this goals, makes you have a greater temper on decision making too.
RMI: What was your impression of the Himalayas?
Elías: What can I say? It is the biggest mountain range in the World!!! Shishapangma sits alone in Tibet and unfortunately we drove to the trailhead from Kathmandu with clouds [covering the mountains], so we could not see much at first. When we all saw the mountain for the first time at Chinese Base Camp at sunrise, we were like little kids on Christmas day in front of Santa’s gifts - so excited. But at the same time you acknowledge the magnitude of the mountain and get those butterflies in your stomach.
I was lucky to have some time afterwards to explore the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri and the Solu Khumbu regions of Nepal, where the concentration of mountains is greater and the steepness of their walls grows exponentially…I have no words to describe what I felt there.
RMI: Give us a glimpse into your daily routine on a long expedition like this…
Elías: Wake up, breathe. Eat breakfast and come up with a plan, breath. Climb or rest, breathe. Try to have a hearty dinner, breathe…sleep. Start over.
RMI: Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip you can share?
Elías: Of course the summit. We made it to the Central Summit of Shishapangma at 8013 meters. I cried. I am very sentimental at points and being able to give a hug to my wife and two good friends up there after pursuing such a long dream is indescribable.
RMI: Any advice for climbers that have aspire to climb in the Himalayas one day?
Elías: Go for it. I think that such an undertaking requires determination. If there is a will there is a way and money and time to do it will materialize. Train for it and learn the skills that are necessary to do it. Be determined with your dream and with what it requires. And if you do not climb on your own, climb with a good guide, like the ones of RMI!!!
RMI: What is next for you?
Elías: As far as guiding goes, anything where I can help RMI clients. As I am shifting towards being more of a full time guide, I am very thankful for the opportunities RMI is giving me. I’m headed to Aconcagua (*Elías is currently on Aconcagua) and I am looking forward to the remainder of the winter with the ice climbing programs.
Personally, I have big ice and mixed climbing projects for this winter-spring locally here in Colorado and in the Canadian Rockies. Since the Himalayan bug has bitten me, I have to admit that plans for Dhaulagiri are “in the oven”.
Posted by: | December 01, 2011
Categories: *Guide News
I was a bit worried on my first night at Smith Rock State Park when my Nalgene bottle froze solid over night. How were we possibly going to climb when it was a struggle just to keep the numbness from our fingers and toes?
I was in Central Oregon for an American Mountain Guide Association Rock Instructor Course with four of my fellow RMI guides: Katie Bono, Levi Kepsel, Elias de Andres Martos, and Solveig Waterfall. All of us were on the ten day course with the aid of the RMI/First Ascent Guide Grant. This educational Grant was established to promote the continued professional development of RMI guides. We were looking forward to that instruction as well as some sunny rock climbing after a long season of guiding in Washington and Alaska but the weather would need to cooperate.
I had heard that our instructors were hardened veterans of the rock realm, but without some really good tricks this weather seemed like too big a hurdle to overcome. I quickly thought about what my option were and did not come up with much except to kick myself for signing up for a rock course in November.
As it turned out I needn’t have worried. On day one the weather was much warmer than the days of the previous week and the course kicked off without a hitch. Instructors Dale and Tom brought eons of experience to each day’s lessons. We tried to soak up every bit we could. The best analogy I could come up with for this was trying to take a drink of water from a fire hose. Every day added another layer of complexity in strategy and technical systems. And the weather kept cooperating! Day after day we received ominous weather forecasts but the weather never materialized and we climbed for eight days straight! When the snow finally did arrive we had moved indoors for the classroom portion of our course. Perfect timing.
By the end we all agreed how far we had progressed. We were blown away by the mastery of rock that our instructors possess and thankful that a little rubbed off on us. We can’t wait to put our newfound skills to use guiding next summer in the North Cascades and elsewhere. We hope to see you there!
RMI Guides Linden Mallory and Alex Van Steen have been working with Leave No Trace for the past several years helping complete a new Mountaineering Curriculum for Leave No Trace. The curriculum was originally developed by Peter Whittaker, RMI, Leave No Trace, and several land managers and land users. It will soon be available to the broader mountaineering community through Leave No Trace.
Linden was interviewed in Leave No Trace’s latest Newsletter discussing the role of Leave No Trace ethics in the mountains and in his guiding career. Check out the story here!
Previous Page More Entries