Entries By alex barber

RMI Guide Alex Barber Begins His Personal Climb of Manaslu

Posted by: Alex Barber | August 31, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Guide News

Yesterday morning I flew into Kathmandu. It was my first daytime flight into this wondrous city.  It was beautifully clear weather, and seeing the Himalaya from the air provided an awesome perspective—with Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and many other peaks visible on the horizon. This is my third 8000-meter expedition, with previous expeditions to Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. My goal for this expedition is to climb Manaslu (8156m)- solo and without bottled oxygen.

Today I had a relaxing afternoon catching up with my Nepalese friends on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley. Drinking Nepali Raksi (moonshine) and Chhaang (rice beer) along with some quite tasty finger foods - with no ill effects this morning - hopefully I’m working up some immunity to Nepalese microorganisms.  However, the heat and humidity of Kathmandu have me daydreaming of Manaslu’s glacial base camp. I’m excited to be back in Nepal!

The next two days I will busy myself with buying supplies and packing for the trek in. I plan to depart on the 2nd of September for Arughat, a small village in central Nepal. From Arughat it is an eight-day trek into Manaslu base camp. This time of year is hot, humid, and wet; I am packing my umbrella as the trek starts in the lowland rainforest.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

The busy streets of Kathmandu. Photo: Billy Nugent Bicycles and motorcycles aplenty in Kathmandu. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Rainier: August 11th SUMMIT!

Posted by: JJ Justman, Alex Barber, Christina von Mertens | August 11, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

RMI Guide JJ Justman led the Four Day Summit Climb Team to the summit of Mt. Rainier early this morning.  The team reported beautiful weather and great route conditions.  The team was climbing to raise money for Washington’s National Park Fund, what a great way to honor our National Parks.

Congratulations Team!


Thanks RMI team for your leadership, training, and providing a great, safe, adventure.

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Posted by: Robert Jones on 8/27/2014 at 8:21 pm

I had an amazing time! Huge thank you and big hugs to JJ, Christina, and Alex for getting us to the top safely and for the training, experience and stories… read more

Posted by: Karinn on 8/13/2014 at 12:49 pm

Mt. Rainier: June 27th - UPDATE

Posted by: Win Whittaker, Mike Uchal, Alex Barber, Kel Rossiter, Leah Fisher, Billy Haas | June 27, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 11,200'

The Four Day Summit Climb Team led by Win Whittaker and Kel Rossiter climbed to Ingraham Flats this morning (11,200’), but due to snow, high winds, and poor visibility they were unable to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier.  The entire team is safely back at Camp Muir and will be starting their descent back to RMI BaseCamp shortly.

Congratulations to today’s Team!

RMI's Four Day Summit Climb Team en route to Camp Muir June 26, 2014

John and Beth - you two are rock stars in my book!  Congratulations on giving it your best shot!!!

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Posted by: Jlo on 6/27/2014 at 10:51 am

Chris/Brooke, still a kick butt accomplishment!!!  Can’t wait to see the pictures!

Love, Leonard

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Posted by: Leonard on 6/27/2014 at 9:52 am

Mt. Rainier: June 24th SUMMIT!

Posted by: Brent Okita, Mike Uchal, Christina von Mertens, Seth Waterfall, Mike King, Alex Barber, Robby Young | June 24, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

Early this morning the Four Day Summit Climb led by Brent Okita reached the summit of Mt. Rainier.  Brent reported clouds above and winds 20 mph, and some new snow on the mountain.  The team has started their descent and are now en route back to Camp Muir.

The Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons Team led by Seth Waterfall reached the summit via the Emmons route at 11:50am this morning.  The will spend a bit of time on the summit before starting their descent.

Congratulations to Today’s Teams!


Good job NS fellas! Hope you have some good snaps to show us - looking forward to you coming home :)

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Posted by: Megan on 6/24/2014 at 5:53 pm

Well done Andrew and crew. Suggest you take the elevator on the way back down. I guess you are the next guy to climb the mast.

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Posted by: Herbie on 6/24/2014 at 4:48 pm

Mt. Rainier: June 15th Update

Posted by: Walter Hailes, Alex Barber, Bridget Belliveau | June 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

The Four Day Summit Climb led by Walter Hailes reached the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning around 7:40 am.  The team spent an hour on the summit with clear skies around them.  Walter reported a cloud deck at approximately 8,500’ and decreasing winds.  The team began their descent just before 9 a.m.

Happy Father’s Day!

An RMI team taking a break at Ingraham Flats on Mt. Rainier. Photo: Seth Waterfall

Mt. Rainier: June 13th - Update

Posted by: Tyler Reid, Pete Van Deventer, Sean Collon, Alex Barber, Christina von Mertens, Andrew Kiefer | June 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 12,600'

Our Four Day Summit Climb Teams Led by RMI Guides Tyler Reid and Pete Van Deventer were turned at 12,600’ due to weather.  The team climbed into a cap and reported low visibility, cold temperatures, snow showers a couple of inches of accumulation and light to moderate winds.  The teams are en route Back to Camp Muir and will be back at Rainier Basecamp early this afternoon.

Congratulations to Today’s Teams.


Will and Tim it was an honor to have attempted the summit of Rainier with you. Pete, I would follow your lead up any mountain my friend. You kept it… read more

Posted by: charles on 6/18/2014 at 6:57 am

Good try Ted and friends.  Weather can be the decider up on Rainier.  The Top of the Cleaver is still high, and it is the crux of the route you… read more

Posted by: Jim Daverman on 6/13/2014 at 3:28 pm

Mt. Rainier: Four Day Summit Climb Team on Summit June 8th

Posted by: Seth Waterfall, Alex Barber, Bridget Belliveau, Lindsay Fixmer, Steve Gately, Adam Butterfield | June 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

The Four Day Summit Climb Teams for June 5 - 8, 2014 reached the summit of Mt. Rainier just before 7 am today.  RMI Guide Seth Waterfall checked in from the crater rim.  The teams are enjoying clear skies and cool temperatures during their time on top today.  The teams will return to Camp Muir and then continue their descent to Paradise and return to Rainier Base Camp later today.

Congratulations to today’s teams!


way to go!! Congrats! Jason Evan&Trey; ! Enjoy the view and weather and meal when u get down off the mountain. see ya soon! frank

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Posted by: frank saunders on 6/9/2014 at 9:54 am

Bernt!  HA!

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Posted by: Claire on 6/9/2014 at 4:49 am

Mt. Rainier: May 31st Summit!

Posted by: Katrina Bloemsma, Casey Grom, Alex Barber, Chase Nelson | May 31, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

The Four Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Casey Grom reached the summit of Mt. Rainier at about 7:35am PT.  The team reported clear skies and calm climbing conditions.  The team will spend some time on the Summit before starting their descent to Camp Muir.

Congratulations to today’s team!

The Summit Crater on Mt. Rainier. RMI Photo Collection

Looking for info on Sheldon Spivey a Georgia climber who is there attempting to summit Rainer

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Posted by: Diana Spivey on 6/1/2014 at 7:58 am

Reading the sad news from MT Rainier - it does not
appear to be Robert’s team led by Matt Emht that
was lost but a team led… read more

Posted by: Mitchell on 6/1/2014 at 6:53 am

RMI Guide Alex Barber Recounts His Cho Oyu Expedition

Posted by: Alex Barber | November 13, 2013
Categories: *Guide News

This past autumn I left the surf and sand of Southern California to attempt my first 8,000-meter peak, solo, and without supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. I don’t quite remember when the idea came about, but climbing a Himalayan giant is something I’ve dreamt of since an early age. This project always struck me as a rematch of sorts, as my first foray into mountaineering as a teen was a botched solo attempt on Mt. Whitney in January. That first climb put me through the ringer and I departed for this expedition fully expecting the same.

Looking up towards the summit of Cho Oyu from Camp 1.

With expeditions like this, the unknowns are bound to be many; I heard differing opinions on just about everything. “Kathmandu is modern and you can buy all your supplies there,” one person would say, and then the next day I would hear the opposite. For the record, Kathmandu is definitely not modern - but all this can be fun. I found adventure in the 21st century and that seems to be rare. So I planned for what I could and insulated myself from what I couldn’t. It was exhilarating to know that I had no concept of everything I’d face.

Near midnight on the 1st of September, I hit the tarmac of Kathmandu International Airport. The city of Kathmandu sits within a large valley at the foot of the Himalaya. Its streets are crowded and its buildings somewhat dilapidated, but the people are kind and the food is fantastic. Surely much has changed since the first westerners arrived, but there is still a sense of lore about the place. Hindu temples, large and small, are strewn about, and filled with worshipers while Buddhist monks’ roam the streets. The entirety of this scene is cast against the gear shops and bustle of everyday city life in a place steeped in climbing history.

A hidden temple in Kathmandu.

On September 10th I arrived at Chinese Base Camp, the “end of the road”. Over the previous week I’d driven through the alpine rainforests of Nepal and into the moonscape of the Tibetan Plateau. At the Tibetan border it is necessary to leave your Nepali ride and walk across the “Friendship Bridge” flanked on either side by the Nepalese and Chinese military. Once across, I met my Chinese Liaison and Tibetan driver. We quickly departed and speedily wove through the streets of Zhangmu, a border town perpetually stuck in a dense fog of clouds as they collide with the rising Tibetan Plateau. At Chinese Base Camp (BC, 16,300’) I still was 2,400’ vertical feet and an unknown distance from Advanced Base Camp (ABC). I spent 3 days at BC waiting for yaks (pack animals that would move my supplies to ABC). While waiting, I developed a terribly bothersome head cold; unfortunately this was not the only time I got sick during this expedition. Days later and sick as a dog, I trekked the last distance into ABC, low visibility, snowing hard with a frigid wind in my face.

We erected ABC (18,700’) and soon I fell into the rhythm of establishing higher camps mixed with days of leisure. Everything seemed to slowly come together, as I prepared my body and my supplies for a possible summit window in the beginning of October. I think what kept me most sane during the expedition was my focus on the immediate. An undertaking such as this can be daunting if you try to grasp the sum of the next 20-day span, including the challenges yet to be overcome. So I’d only spool out as much time as was immediately necessary in my mind, and kept my thoughts off the many days ahead of me to reach the summit.

Throughout the climbing period of the expedition I kept a brisk pace between camps, taking care not to push myself so hard that I couldn’t construct camp and take care of myself adequately afterwards. It’s a fine line up there; it’s far too easy to push yourself past the limit. I saw this countless times with other climbers but they had the safety net of Sherpas, guides, and teammates to assist them when they took on too much. I had no such safeguard and this was something I had to always take into account. I wouldn’t want to put a negative connotation on climbing solo though, because it was gratifying in its simplicity.

On September 30th I pulled into Camp 3 at 24,500’. I recall constructing camp atop a small ridge of snow perched beneath the notorious Yellow Band. Here I definitely felt the altitude. Beneath me two Sherpa friends were digging in a platform for their team’s arrival. I’d look over at them as I was catching my breath and they’d be doing the same, smiling and laughing with each other at the ridiculousness of it all.

Climbing without supplemental oxygen and solo (or as solo as it gets on Cho Oyu) has dangers that are heightened, namely the two forms of edema: HAPE and HACE. These affect the lungs and/or brain and are deadly if they persist without descending to lower altitudes. These conditions mainly strike during the night as your breathing naturally decreases. Being on your own when this happens can be mortally dangerous. I took measures to lower my risk by staying hydrated, well feed, comfortable, stress free, and I always kept a wary eye on my breathing and short term memory. The year prior I’d seen firsthand the grim realities of high altitude mountaineering on Argentina’s Aconcagua, after a rescue of another team turned tragic. Cerro Aconcagua was my previous high point at 22,841’. Everything beyond was unknown and I was well above that now and pushing higher. In hindsight, perhaps maybe I should have been more nervous at these altitudes, but I suppose I never felt threatened by them. As was the case in all my previous expeditions, the altitude only seemed to leave me breathless and nothing worse, not even a headache. And so I hydrated, ate and went to bed excited for my summit attempt only hours away.

Looking up at the summit of Cho Oyu from Advanced Base Camp.

A climber talks on the radio at Camp 2 on Cho Oyu.

Looking down at Camp 1 on Cho Oyu.

Summit Day

I awoke at 12 midnight; outside I could hear guides addressing their climbers, the hiss of oxygen bottles as the regulators were spun on and the crunch of crampons engaging the firm snow as the first teams departed. Climbers’ torches faintly lighted my tent as they passed and the walls were lined with ice that rained down with the slightest nudge. I gave myself a once over, everything felt good and I was ready. I roused and started my stove, opened a few vents to ensure proper ventilation and stuck my head out the top of the tent. I had spoken to the leaders of the other expeditions and they were leaving quite early, at 12 midnight which meant they had woken up hours earlier. My plan was to leave as late as 2 am for two reasons: firstly I wanted to meet sunrise sooner as I would be running colder without O’s (oxygen), and secondly to give the other teams a large enough head start to ensure I could keep warm by continually climbing. But this night would be hapless from the moment I spilled my hot water all over the tent.

As the other teams passed, and in a moment of carelessness, I fumbled a liter of water in my tent. Luckily, everything required for the summit push was outside in my pack. But with the threat of getting my boots or down suit wet I decided to depart for the summit immediately. The time was 1 am, an hour earlier than I had planned, and as soon as I left my tent I saw a traffic jam forming at the Yellow Band – a formation of rock above Camp 3. Hoping that their supplemental oxygen would see them through with some speed I continued on, but as I ascended it became apparent that they would not climb as hastily as I had hoped. As I sat in line below this technical rock step my extremities lost feeling. Swinging them in circles - something we call “windmills”, easily reinvigorated my hands. But climbing through the chilly night, I wasn’t able to completely regain feeling in my toes, this was a constant concern. However, I had not lost the ability to wiggle them as I took each step so I continued climbing into the night.

RMI Guide Alex Barber topping out on an ice cliff on Cho Oyu.

After the Yellow Band, I threaded my way through a steeper section comprised of rock and snow, unclipping from the fixed lines and passing other teams as often as I was able too. The process of passing other teams at that altitude is quite tiring, as I had to abandon my efficient rhythm for a faster pace outside of the beaten in route, at times breaking into the snow up to my knees. Luckily I only had to do this 3 or 4 times as the majority of the climbers were moving faster than I was, with their bottled oxygen giving them more stamina. I recall one moment at 25,800’ when I became exceedingly nauseous. But it quickly passed and I continued on. This was the only moment I felt the altitude affect me.

At Camp 3, when I left, it was warm and still with high clouds touching the summit, but now, at 26,000’, a light wind had picked up and the last of the high clouds were blowing over me. My suit was covered in ice and I had to stop periodically to rewarm my face by burying it in the cowl of my hood. As I reached striking distance of the summit (or so I thought) the horizon became faintly lit. And I encouraged by what it signified!

As I came over the top onto the summit plateau I saw a high point off to my left, but Liz Hawley, an elderly woman who keeps the records of the Himalaya, warned me against this. I met Liz in Kathmandu, and discussed my plan for the expedition. She instructed me, “When you enter the plateau you’ll see a high point off to your left that seems to be the obvious summit, but go forward and slightly to your right and continue until you see Everest. This will be the true summit.” I recalled her words and continued on straight. Those last 45 minutes plodding along at 26,900’ for what seemed an eternity, a quarter of a mile, the summit not even visible (or so I thought) was the hardest for me. I had nothing to hold onto. The plateau seemed to stretch beyond the visible horizon. Despair mounted at the thought of having to start grid searching for the damnable thing. I scanned the plateau again. It was then that I noticed a single string of prayer flags off in the distance to my right; on a mound no higher than 3 feet from the point I was standing. It was the summit, maybe one of the least climactic summits I’ve experienced, but I was deeply relieved when I got there and found myself standing at the summit of Cho Oyu!

Alex Barber on the summit of Cho Oyu

I was on top for about 15 minutes. Most of the time seated on my pack eating peanut M&Ms and washing them down with warm Tang from my thermos. I made a speedy descent to Camp 3, quickly packed and made the entire descent to ABC, arriving soon after dusk. Dawa, one of my cooks waited outside of ABC for me with hot tea and a huge smile, after a celebratory embrace we descended the last 15 minutes together into ABC. I felt relieved to be finished. The day was October 1st, I had summited at 8:20 am that morning Nepali time.

You know, I’ve been asked what it felt like for everything to culminate and be on top. That feeling of accomplishment or exhilaration - what was it like? But I think what draws me isn’t that singular moment at the top or any feeling of exhilaration from being there. Instead it’s the quieter and constant sense of contentment that comes from the simplicity of mountaineering, the journey along the way and being surrounded by extraordinary beauty that challenges you to conquer – not the mountain – but yourself. For me the journey is the destination.

RMI Guide Alex Barber after the Puja Ceremony.

Alex Barber is a mountain guide for RMI Expeditions and splits his time between the beaches of Southern California and mountains around the world. Alex will be guiding an Expedition Skills Seminar – Winter in January before returning to the Himalaya this spring to attempt Lohtse and Shishapangma. Read more about his climb and follow the upcoming adventures on www.alexanderbarber.com.

Looking up at Cho Oyu from Camp 1. A hidden temple in Kathmandu. Cho Oyu as seen from Advanced Base Camp. A climber makes a radio call from Camp 2.

Congratulations Alex!

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Posted by: Jen and Nick Boekenoogen on 11/26/2013 at 9:53 am

Alex - I am so impressed and proud of you!  What an extraordinary journey and story.  But I guess I should expect nothing less from you as you are an… read more

Posted by: Linn Perkins on 11/16/2013 at 9:07 am

Mt. Rainier: July 20, 2013 Summit!

Posted by: JJ Justman, Alex Barber, Chase Nelson | July 20, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

The RMI Four Day Summit Climb team led by JJ Justman reached the summit of Mt. Rainier early this morning.  The team reported a beautiful morning with clear skies and light winds of about 20mph. The ascent to the summit took about 6 hours and 10 minutes. The team left the summit and will descend back to Camp Muir and then continue to Paradise.

RMI Guide Billy Nugent led a team of climbers in the North Cascades.  They reached the summit today around 2 pm PT.  They returned to camp around 5 pm and will spend their final night in the mountains.  Tomorrow they will descend to the trial head and complete their trip.

Congratulations to today’s team!

Today's Summit Climb Team on the Muir Snowfield - Photo: JJ Justman

Great job guys! I have enjoyed seeing the pictures on facebook. Anxious to hear the stories. Congratulations!

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Posted by: Jeff Lindmark on 7/20/2013 at 2:36 pm

You guys rock! I never thought I’d see my mom in shorts while in the snow..must have been working hard. Congratulations on summit!

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Posted by: Erica on 7/20/2013 at 11:05 am

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