- 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
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.
Spring came very early in Aspen, CO this year, with the last two weeks bringing 75 degree temps almost daily. Monday, Aspen based guides Lindsay Mann and Pete Van Deventer decided to take a break from spring skiing conditions to start getting into rock climbing shape for the summer. Independence Pass, just outside of Aspen, was warm, dry, and provides an ideal training ground, with a plethora of trad and sport cragging routes. Despite a relatively small snow year in Aspen, both Lindsay and Pete have had a lot of days of skiing and ski touring that have prepped them well for upcoming May Denali climbs. Monday was a great day to take a break from skiing, catch some sun, and get comfortable on rocks again!
With RMI’s very successful Aconcagua season wrapped up and our Everest Expedition just a few days from being underway, RMI Guide Linden Mallory discusses how our dedication to Responsible Climbing and the fundamentals of Leave No Trace influence our climbs as a guest writer on the Leave No Trace Community Blog.
From the planning and packing of our climbs to the daily activities around camp, Linden outlines how we approach our climb and offers some good advice for planning of your own adventures.
Check out his blog post here.
Read more about RMI’s dedication to Responsible Climbing here.
February 10th, Vail, Colorado. The day had finally arrived. The Teva Mountain Games were on and I was ready for my first real climbing competition in years which included a wild race format and bar-none the highest caliber field of competitors I have ever faced. The competition was set up so two competing climbers would scale a 55-foot artificial wall plastered with regular plastic climbing holds like those found in the gym and a new experimental high density foam that was made to mimic real ice. The structure hosted two identical routes, a right one and left one that mirrored each other with every hold being exactly the same on each climb. When the bell went off, both climbers had six minutes to reach the top of the climb but with fast competitors taking less than three minutes per route the winner was decided by whomever climbed the top anchor first. Both climbers were then lowered to the ground and a three minute rest was issued. Then a swapping of sides ensued and a second race began. The combined winner of both races moved on to the next heat.
I almost did really well! Winning my first heat, I went into the second feeling unbeatable. All the fear and intimidation I felt by the big guns waiting to eliminate me vanished. I knew for certain I could hang. This all evaporated when on my first climb of the second heat I placed both tools in a foam hold and while trying to remove the upper one, the lower one blew out and I came whipping off the climb with an audible groan from the crowd. I had been leading the race when I fell and on my second climb of that heat posted the fasted time of the day out of any competitor. And so the hope of an unknown underdog sliding in and cleaning up at the first ever Teva Mountain Games was dashed. Not to worry, I will be back.
I owe RMI a huge thanks for supporting my trip to Vail and giving me the chance to represent them. It is gratifying knowing such a worthy company has my back.
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.
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