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Mt. Everest Expedition: Sara McGahan on Climbing and her Studies

Posted by: | March 30, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 11,300'

Hi, my name is Sara for those of you that are reading this that don’t know me, I am 16 years old, and a sophomore at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. I started climbing when I was 12 years old, and since then I have climbed Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Rainier, Denali (Mt. McKinley), and a bunch of other mountains.

I like climbing for a number of reasons.  I like training for climbing because I know that when I am doing it its with a goal in mind. I love the people I meet when I am climbing, and hearing all their stories and experiences. I have also been able to travel to a lot of different places like Tanzania, Argentina, Russia, Australia, Nepal, and the states of Washington, Alaska, and Colorado. Its really interesting and fun to go to all these places, and to see different people and cultures.

While on this climb I am working on two different projects for classes at my school:

1.  For science, I am measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels at different altitudes of 4 people (including myself) to study the effects of high altitude.  I am taking readings using a small finger device and doing it twice a day.  As we move up to higher and higher altitudes its interesting to see how peoples bodies react to the altitude, and how they change as the body starts to acclimatize.

2.  Right now I am in the Northern part of Nepal and Tibet is just over the border in China. The Dali Lama is openly held in very high regard here in Nepal, but pictures of the Dali Lama are forbidden in Tibet.  For English I will be talking to people about the current situation of the Dali Lama in Tibet, their views on this situation, and any impact its had on climbing near this border and on the villages close to the border.

As I write this I am sitting in an internet cafe in Namche, Nepal.  Namche is the center for trekking and climbing in Sagarmatha National Park.  Today we took a hike from Namche, which is at about 11,200 feet, up to the villages of Khumjung, Khunde, and Syangbouche. The views from these villages are truly breath taking. Some of the men in the villages work as porters and sherpas (guides for climbers and trekkers), and the rest of the people are farmers.  Our group stopped half way at the Everest Hotel to have a coke, and we sat on the terrace with clear views of Everest, Lotse, Ama Dablam, and lots of other huge mountains.  Really, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Sara McGahan


Raju, Jeff, Bill, Sara going for dayhike above Namche.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Cold Drinks at the Everest View Hotel.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Walking the streets of Khunde.  Photo:  Dave Hahn Back down to Namche.  Photo:  Dave Hahn

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I still can’t believe you are sixteen and climbing everest. you are incredible. I received an email from your mom giving me the link to this blog and… read more

Posted by: Hannah Woodward on 3/30/2011 at 12:35 pm

Hi Sara,
I enjoyed your post and look forward to many more.  I, too, am an Atlanta based climber, although considerably older than you.  I train for all of… read more

Posted by: Tom from Marietta on 3/30/2011 at 12:14 pm

Mountaineering Training | Core Strength Training

Posted by: | October 29, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

The question of how to build strength for mountaineering can be answered in many ways. First, consider what kind of strength is needed when climbing. We need strength in our legs to carry ourselves up and down the mountain; we need strength in our back and shoulders to carry our backpack over uneven and variable surfaces; we need general body strength to tackle the everyday tasks such as setting up camp, digging tent platforms, or even to use an ice axe to arrest a fall. This strength can best be described as overall core strength.
One way to think of core strength is to consider our body’s ability to move functionally through a wide range of motion in a variety of directions with and without resistance. Many activities will develop this, ranging from certain gym classes and circuit training, to activities like dance, yoga, and weight training. These are all activities that can be done for a few minutes a day or for an hour or two several times a week. If you have an activity that meets all of these goals, I encourage you to continue to use it.  
If you are looking for an all-around core strength activity that you can do anywhere, then look no further than the Daily Dozen. This workout can be done anywhere and with no equipment; you can even do it in your pj’s in the kitchen while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew! The Daily Dozen is a key workout of my book Fit By Nature and I use it routinely in my training sessions around Seattle. As a special resource for the readers of RMI’s Weekly Mountaineering Training Series, you can download an excerpt from Fit By Nature that gives a detailed description of the Daily Dozen with accompanying photographs:  
Download the Daily Dozen Description here.
Often, the question comes up: “Is twelve minutes of training sufficient?”  In reality, if you do 12 minutes each day, it adds up to almost an hour and a half per week of core strength training. However, if you prefer to make it a longer workout, you can simply run through the Daily Dozen two or three times. You can even combine it with other exercises to make it an all-around workout. For instance, in between each exercise, you can walk a set of stairs or do a short run.  
What is important is to make your core strength training work for you. Remember the key concepts of moderation and consistency; this means that it’s better to train more often at a moderate intensity than it is to try and do all of your strength training in one big session once a week.
- John Colver
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.


Shishapangma: RMI Team Ready to Begin Rotations Above Camp 1

Posted by: Jake Beren | September 20, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Guide News *Everest

Hey guys, this is the Shishapangma team.  We are just calling to check in.  Everybody is well.  We did feel the big earthquake the other day.  Both our team up at Camp 1 and our team at BC are just fine.

We are going to send another team up in the direction of Camp 1 later this afternoon.  We are going to start our rotations a little higher up.  All is well here.  We are waiting for a weather window and just hanging out.

So, we hope all is well back in Ashford.  We’ll be giving you a shout when we have a little more to say.  That is all from Tibet.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

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Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave’s Thirteenth Everest Summit

Posted by: | May 21, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest

RMI Guide Dave Hahn summits Mt. Everest for a Record Thirteenth Time. On May 20th, 2011, Dave Hahn, Linden Mallory and their Sherpa team stood on the summit of Mt. Everest on a clear and beautiful day. Congratulations!

The team has safely returned to Everest Base Camp.

Dave Hahn, Lucky #13 Mt. Everest Summit Linden Mallory and Dave Hahn on the summit of Mt. Everest, May 21, 2011. Everest sunrise shadow and Dave Hahn on the radio to Base Camp. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Way to go guys! Number 13 Dave. You rock!

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Posted by: Lizabee Schaefer on 5/21/2011 at 6:29 pm

RMI Hosts Prep for Rainier Classes at REI

Posted by: Ben Liken, Paul Maier | April 11, 2014
Categories: *Guide News

RMI is hosting several Prep for Rainier classes over the months of February, March, and April at local REI stores in the Puget Sound area. Join RMI’s experienced guides to discuss everything that is needed to prepare for Mt. Rainier, including conditioning, trip planning, route selection, and equipment selection to climb Washington State’s highest point!

Come out to your local REI store to hear stories and answer your questions about Mt. Rainier!

Tuesday 4/15/2014 7:00pm REI Redmond with RMI Guide Paul Maier More info…

Join RMI for classes on how to prepare for Mt. Rainier at your local REI store!


Lou Whittaker Interview

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.

Lou Whittaker


Mountaineering Training | Introduction to the Fit To Climb Program

Posted by: | January 28, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

We are excited to share a weekly trainings series from the book Fit to Climb: The Adventx 16 week Mount Rainier Training Program authored by former RMI Guide John Colver! This conditioning plan is designed to help you train for a successful Mount Rainier climb. 
As the plan unfolds you’ll quickly gain momentum, achieving milestones, and navigating each phase of training. Before you’re halfway through, you’ll feel confident in your abilities and have experienced significant physical gains.
Features of the Fit To Climb plan are:

• A progressive training schedule with measurable milestones
• A weekly chart with day by day workout descriptions
• The ‘Rainier Dozen’ daily strengthening workout
• Tips on cross-training and alternative training options
• Instruction on aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, and strength training
• Nutrition for training and climbing
• Tips on motivation, goal setting, and mental preparation

The Fit To Climb Program is designed to be done anywhere and with the minimal of equipment. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to participate and each week you’ll build strength and endurance for the climb ahead.
The 16 weeks are comprised of four phases:

• Phase one = Adaptation Training (Weeks 1 - 2)
• Phase two = Foundation Training (Weeks 3 - 10)
• Phase three = Peak Training (Weeks 10 - 15)
• Phase four = Expedition (Week 16)

These phases are the building blocks, each ending in milestones. We start with general conditioning, then add endurance, followed by the addition of high intensity interval training in the peak phase and ending with a short ‘tapering’ phase during the final preparation in the week before your climb. 

The timing commitment of the Fit To Climb Program varies. The Adaption and Foundation Training Phases ask for 4 - 7 hours a week of training. During the Peak Training Phase the focus is on building solid and aerobic endurance with long training sessions and the plan calls for 10 - 15+ hrs of training per week. It’s a big time commitment so plan ahead and try and prepare your schedule to handle the increased training demands. For some tips, see RMI’s collection of ideas to maximize the time and the find the right terrain for your training.
The timing of the sixteen weeks is designed to prepare you for Mount Rainier climb that is four months away. If your climb is later or sooner you can adjust the timing as necessary, either getting a head-start or beginning in the appropriate week.

The Fit To Climb Program can easily be tailored to prepare you for any mountain beyond Mt. Rainier. In developing training plans for other climbs, plan your training with the end in mind: is the major challenge the high altitude, extreme temperatures, heavy pack, or multiple days or weeks? 
As you create the training map, ensure that there are stepping stones to gain new skills and strengths as well as milestones where you can “test” your ability. One principle of training for mountaineering in all ranges, is that aerobic endurance conditioning is the primary training component for most climbers. Start by making sure that you have what it takes to “go long,” then focus on the specific challenges of your climb or expedition.

The Fit To Climb training program is rigorous and to complete it in its entirety requires a substantial commitment of time and effort. Do people follow it to-the-letter? Sometimes yes, often no - people become ill, work or family situations come up and the best plans work on the basis of flexibility. A paradox of training for a major climb is that we want to set the bar high in training in order to replicate the demands we’ll have during the expedition, however, we also want to maintain confidence if we fall short of a training session or goal. It’s rarely a linear process; sometimes we feel awful just when we expected to be strong, sometimes our perfect plan goes sideways, and sometimes we feel doubt when everything has been completed perfectly.

As you start the process, think of the key elements of success: Maintain momentum, rest when you need to, push hard when you feel strong, and constantly think about how you can recover well. And most importantly, be confident that your efforts will pay off; many people have climbed and succeeded in their goals while having not completed all of the training or while feeling sub-par. I remind myself that one can miss a few classes and still graduate. It’s progress, not perfection, that counts. 

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit To Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Climbers on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier



Mt Everest Expedition: Dave Hahn and Team at Camp 3 on Lhotse Face

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Melissa Arnot | May 23, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 24,000'

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.  As they periodically checked in it sounded like they were truly enjoying the climb and taking pictures when possible. As you can imagine, under harsh weather there isn’t time to enjoy the mountain and the views.

Our super Sherpa team started a bit earlier and set up tents at Camp 3 then returned back to Camp 2 to spend the night. The equipment that had been brought up there weeks ago was all intact and the team was able to pull into a well provisioned home for the night. Last I heard Melissa was kicking Dave’s you know what in the stove boil off competition for dinner, Go Melissa Go!

As this climb is quickly coming to it’s conclusion, and a day like today that can be so pivotal in the future success I get so excited with this good luck. Not that these tough individuals wouldn’t meet the challenge of wind, cold and snow. I just like the way it is shaping up.
The weather forecast is still looking good with winds decreasing over the next few days.  You have to love that!

The Sherpa team will get out of Camp 2 early tomorrow morning and the climbing team will try and have a seamless hand off of some gear to them from Camp 3, check out time should be around 6:00 am.  Then the whole team should climb together up to high camp the South Col, getting there midday, that should allow enough time for rest and preparation for early departure toward the summit that night.

RMI Guide & Everest Base Camp Manager Mark Tucker

Mt. Everest.  Photo: Jake Norton The route to Camp 3 on the Lhoste Face.  Photo: Michael Brown

RMI Guide Dave Hahn checks in from Camp 3 on Mt. Everest.

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Mt. Everest Expedition:  RMI Team Reaches Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Melissa Arnot | May 25, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 29,035'

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’.  This marks the 14th summit for Dave Hahn and the 4th for Melissa Arnot.

Congratulations to the team!!!

Climbing towards the South Summit of Mt. Everest at sunrise.  Photo: Linden Mallory 2011 RMI Guide Dave Hahn on Mt. Everest.  Photo: Dave Hahn 2011

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Way to go everyone. So proud of you all. Be safe coming down.

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Posted by: chris on 5/26/2012 at 5:54 am

Congrats Dave and Mellissa!! Have a safe trip down and enjoy the view!

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Posted by: Mike Iem on 5/26/2012 at 5:45 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Greetings from Deboche

Posted by: | March 31, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 12,325'

The much celebrated 3G phone service is not so robust down here in the Rhododendron forest at 12,400 ft above sea level, so please pardon the slight lapse in trip coverage as we pass through these benighted zones.  All is well with Bill, Sara, Dave and Lam Babu Sherpa.  We moved easily up from Namche yesterday, enjoying very light traffic on the trails.  We seem to be a few days ahead of most of the big Everest teams and we conveniently flew into Lukla during a brief weather-window that few trekking groups were able to take advantage of, so the end result is that we have this part of the gorgeous Khumbu Valley to ourselves.  Conditions have mostly been cool and cloudy, although we’ve been granted grand views of Everest and Lhotse and Ama Dablam.  The temps have been perfect for walking and we took advantage yesterday by cruising up the 1,700 ft Thyangboche Hill in one continuous push.  A couple of cool and fizzy drinks out in front of the palatial Thyangboche Monastery and then we completed the day by descending a few hundred feet to Deboche.  Last night was an easy one as we enjoyed a fine dinner in a comfy wood-stove heated dining room.

The McGahan clan showed each other how to beat the stuffing out of their climbing guide at Yahtzee and then we each turned in for the night… beginning to delight in the loft of our expedition sleeping bags.  We’ll spend tonight here as well, letting our bodies catch up to the altitude and enjoying a last day (for the next eight weeks) among trees.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI team enroute to Deboche

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