- 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
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- 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
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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 need to prepare for Mt. Rainier, including conditioning, trip planning, route choice, 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!
|Thursday||4/11/2013||7:00pm||REI Seattle with Paul Maier||More info…|
Long time RMI Guide and Owner Joe Horiskey may have 235 summits of Mt. Rainier via nearly a dozen routes in forty-two years of guiding, but he was even happier to congratulate his 19 year-old son, Robert, who successfully reached Columbia Crest for his very first time on September 8th! Congratulations, Robert! (And congratulations, Joe!)
The rain finished sometime during the night and left partly cloudy skies for our morning walk out of Phak Ding. These improved to sunny, clear and blue skies for a few hours as we wandered the trail through the small villages and farms along the Dudh Khosi. The trails were quite busy with trekking groups and heavily laden porters. There were numerous groups from Europe and Japan but none that we recognized as being from the United States.
I walked along with Erica and Ed Dohring and Seth Waterfall. We didn’t do much instructing as to how to walk or climb the steps in the trail. Ed and Erica do hike plenty, in addition to the mountaineering they’ve accomplished. I did ask them to slow down just a bit to match my pace, hoping that I’d be able to pass on a rate appropriate for all we needed to accomplish today. The main wisdom I try to impart at this stage of a long climb is simply an awareness that our performance on any given day is an integral part of our overall performance. For instance, it wouldn’t have been so useful for us to attempt to set some speed record on the day moving to Namche if that meant being wasted for our first night at a new and significant altitude. Conversely, walking too slowly toward our intended goal could tire us out just as much by keeping us on our feet with packs on our backs for too long. It isn’t like figuring solutions to the world’s financial troubles or landing spacecraft on Mars, but walking uphill is none-the-less my specialty and it turns out that getting the walk to Namche right is crucial for climbing Mount Everest.
Everest didn’t show itself for us today, but we were granted tremendous views -seemingly straight up- to the wildly fluted snow-faces guarding Thamserku’s pointy summit. There was an unreal contrast between the rock and ice we could see by tilting our heads and the lush pine forests we walked through. We passed the odd flowering rhododendron and still a number of blossoming cherry and apple trees, though not quite as many of these once we’d gone through the gates of the Sagarmatha National Park and gradually started to gain a bit of altitude. My little gang enjoyed a hot lunch at the picnic tables outside a teahouse with members of our “production team” (Jake, Cherie, John and Tom) while the other climbers continued on toward the big “Namche Hill” -anxious to get the day’s work done.
The sky clouded up again and vaguely threatened rain as we continued along the Dudh Khosi. I found myself recognizing boulders and bridges along the way and remembering the friends/partners/clients from past expeditions who’d lounged here or there and stopped to take pictures in this or that spot. As we walked I counted myself lucky that most of the people in my memories were still my friends after those expeditions. In these days when I have to so often justify going back to the same mountains year after year, I wonder if I’d get away with that as a worthy argument… that they remind me of good people.
Of course the big Namche Hill reminds me of a lot of good and sweaty people. We gained over two thousand vertical feet on the dusty switchbacks, passing lots and lots of porters straining under loads of hand-hewn lumber. Someone up-valley must be building a wooden WalMart. In mid-afternoon, we crested the hills and rolled into Namche, the Sherpa capital. I bumped into a number of Sherpa friends in the narrow streets and as we passed along I just got in the habit of saying “Namaste” to all the shopkeepers, whether I recognized them or not. We caught up with the rest of our team enjoying the lemon tea at the Camp de Base guest house, where we’ll spend the next three nights. And now I’m sitting at the comfy dining room tables looking up at the usual posters of Hans Kammerlander, Hillary and Tenzing, and the Dalai Lama. We are home in the Khumbu.
Hi. This is Bill blogging from Namche, Nepal.
I started climbing with my daughter Sara about 3 1/2 years ago when she was just 12, and since that time we have had many adventures together. I love climbing, but even more so, I love spending the time with Sara, who is now 16. When we are at home in Atlanta she is so busy and I never get to hear about all the things that go on in her life every day. So while we are climbing, and over meals, or watching a movie or TV show on her itouch, I get to hear all the funny things that happen on a daily basis. For example, I just learned all about the social importance of ‘threads” on Facebook, and the song with the line “the best 30 seconds of my life” (if you don’t know what song that is, that’s probably a good thing!).
So this past week has been fun. It takes a lot of patience to fly from the states to Kathmandu, with the layovers, cramped planes, visa lines and time changes, so its a big relief to finally get to a hotel room and start to work on your jet lag. Its been about a week, and I think I am finally over the 10 hour change.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is quite an adventure, which starts with getting up in Kathmandu at 4:30 am and then literally fighting your way through a mosh pit of folks in the airport. It’s actually great fun if you keep it in perspective. And of course, the 45 minute flight up to the mountains through a saddle into the very short landing strip (on a twin prop, specialized short takeoff and landing plane) is intense. If you have any doubt, go to youtube and search “lukla airport” and check out the clips. The strip is only open for brief spurts every morning due to the clouds, so you have to be on the 1st flight, hence the mosh pit.
There are two ways to get to Lukla, flying or walking, and the walk takes days. So, the main way (really the only way) is to fly in. All goods used by the many villages in the mountains get flown in. Then, once into Lukla, porters pick up all the goods and carry them up the trail. The trail is filled with porters carrying 70 to 80 pound loads on their backs, some the size of refrigerators. Most everything gets to the towns in the mountains makes it way there on the backs of the porters (or yaks or donkeys). All of our bags going to base camp are carried by these porters, and it takes them about 7 to 10 days to get up to basecamp. The porters climb from an altitude of about 9,000 feet, down to about 8,000 feet, and then all the way up to nearly 18,000 feet. Its just amazing what they do.
The “tea houses” that we stay in are really beautiful little lodges. They are made of stone (cut up here from the sides of the hills). The rooms are simple but clean, and the common dining room serves delicious food. We are eating so very well, and with dishes that we are accustomed to - pizza, chicken, steak, french fries, eggs, pancakes, etc… and these dishes - combined with the RMI condiments - have been great. We are buying bottled water along the way, but the bottles are getting more and more expensive the further we go.
Our climb so far has really consisted of getting into Namche, the center for all trekking and climbing in this area. The “Namche hill” is a 2000 foot hill from about 9,000’ to 11,000’ just before Namche that takes about 2 hours to climb. It was raining yesterday when we were ascending, so our biggest challenge was dodging the puddles and the yak dung along the way (not to mention the yaks which also have considerable loads on their backs).
This morning we awoke early to climb above Namche to get our first vies of Everest, Lhotse and the other massive mountains in the surrounding area. After a half hour trek at 6:30 this morning we were rewarded with perfect views. Everest had its tell tale plume of clouds streaking off the summit as it pierced the jet stream. It looks quite daunting, perhaps because it is.
Our trip is led by Dave Hahn, who is not only an insane climber, but one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet. He breaks it all down to seem so simple, and he makes me (and Sara) believe that all we have to do is take this adventure day by day, and climb by climb. This coming from a man who has summitted Everest 12 times, more than any non-sherpa in the world. If I were him I would be at least a little boastful, but he never is. And he seems to know everyone along the trail, at the hotels, and in the shops. Its one big mixer for Dave as we head to base camp!
So today is a rest day, and quite a beautiful one. Sara and I are going to break out Yatzee and the deck of cards. The goal today is to continue to have our bodies adjust to 11,000 feet while remaining strong and sickness free. Rest days are my strongest days in the mountains!!!
Thanks for following our climb.
(Photos by Expedition Leader Dave Hahn)
Feliz Ano Nuevo from Mendoza! Our last dispatch was from Aconcagua’s base camp and we have certainly covered many miles since then. A big day of walking from Plaza Argentina to Pampa de Llenas put us in camp just in time for a big Asado prepared by our herreros, the mule drivers who transport our gear off the mountain. An early morning walk brought us to Penitentes where we showered and had lunch before heading to Mendoza. Now back in civilization our celebratory meal felt great and is a far cry from mountain food and the thin air of the Andes, but the significance of the last few weeks that put us on top of the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya is still sinking in. Everyone has done a great job and I am thankful for the time spend with a great team. Nice work all!
Before sunup on the 24th of May, the RMI Everest climbing team left Camp III at 24,000 ft on the Lhotse Face, bound for a shot at the top of Mount Everest. The only trouble was that everybody else on the mountain had the same idea at the very same time. We were shocked to see how many climbers were already on the fixed lines. Estimates ran to as many as two hundred, although it was later figured that a fair proportion were simply doing carries to the upper camps and weren’t intent on staying at Camp IV or climbing for the summit. Suffice to say that we couldn’t set our own pace for climbing, but eventually, by keeping going when other teams elected to take breaks, we made it into the open above the difficult Yellow Band at 25,000 ft. The Geneva Spur didn’t present a significant barrier to our reaching 26,000 ft by late morning. There we found a steady wind and our Sherpa team building tents on the South Col. It was easy enough for our team to get in and start re-hydrating and resting for a summit climb, but it was tougher trying to get a read on the conditions that climb would be undertaken in. A quick count revealed about fifty other tents pitched on the Col, and a few impromptu meetings with other climb leaders decided us that perhaps in excess of a hundred climbers would be going for the summit that night. The winds continued and the latest forecasts confirmed that a ribbon of 50 mile-per-hour air would still be menacing the mountain for a further 24 hours. We looked at the steep triangular face and saw that its middle third would entail loose rock with a good chance for some of that getting kicked loose onto teams below. So there were three things that didn’t work well for us… rock, crowds and wind. We made preparations for a climb, but we also began to explore the possibility of delaying 24 hours and shooting for May 26th as a summit day. We each knew that we’d be putting all our eggs in one final basket by doing such a thing. We had resources for such a delay, but we didn’t have unlimited resources. If we skipped the 25th, with its known problems, we’d have to take the 26th with its unknown problems… or go home without a summit. We tried to hedge our bets, telling our Sherpa team that we’d still prepare to get up in the night unless the winds were still blowing. At 10 PM, long after the other teams had left for the top and were to be seen as a Christmas parade all up and down the Triangular Face, the winds were still strong. We committed to the next night.
It was a slightly surreal day, as always, hanging out at 8000 meters on May 25th. We wondered whether we’d missed our shot as the neighboring teams came down with a summit under their belts and not too many bad stories to tell, after all. Yes it had been windy and cold and crowded, but most seemed to have done ok and there certainly weren’t new tragedies to report. Finally, in the late afternoon of the 25th, the winds began to die down. That was encouraging, but our headcount for the coming summit day was less encouraging. We’d assumed we’d be up the hill with perhaps fifty climbers, but as we prepared dinner and turned in, we’d become aware of about 80 or 90. And nearly all of these climbers were leaving quite early for the top (as in about 7 or 8 PM). There was no way to beat them out the door without simply aiming to summit in the middle of the night (a bitterly cold and slightly unrewarding proposition). We’d set out afterward and take our chances on being able to pass people when we needed to. Our alarms rang at 10 PM and we ate, drank and geared up for two hours in delightful stillness. The South Col was dead calm and quiet with the wind absent and the vast majority of the climbers already well up toward the balcony. Lam Babu Sherpa would stay at the South Col, just in case, while Tsherring, Kadji and Passang accompanied the four person climbing team. We set out at midnight and four hours later topped the balcony in perfect conditions. A half hour later we experienced an incredibly colorful sunrise and things got slightly easier, even as we took on the steep slopes below the South Summit. At the South Summit around 7 AM we crested to see an amazing and at first, frightening, phenomenon. There were at least a hundred climbers lined up waiting to descend the summit ridge. At any given point there seemed to be about 8 climbers simultaneously on the Hillary Step and dozens upon dozens on the tricky rock features between us and the step. We decided we had no choice but to sit and wait patiently in the small dip past the South Summit. There was no practical way that we could pass so many climbers on such awkward terrain. The wait turned into an hour-and-a-half, which made each of us quite nervous… since such a thing is very much the definition of not being in control of one’s climb… but then we each had to remind ourselves that conditions were benign. There was zero wind, the sun was shining and there was plenty of time left in the day. Also, we salivated at the prospect of having the mountain to ourselves after the long conga line of climbers passed on their way down. Finally we stood up, shouldered our packs and shook off the cold. It didn’t take long then to scramble across the ridge, up the Hillary Step and onto the summit. It turned out that three or four climbers were on the summit from the Tibet side, but that didn’t stop us from thoroughly enjoying about 55 minutes on top. We had unlimited views and a very happy team as we connected with Lam back at the South Col, Yuberaj at Camp II and Mark Tucker down at Basecamp.
The descent took just a matter of hours, since there was virtually no traffic left high on the mountain. We came back into the South Col feeling satisfied, but also knowing that the big work of the day was yet-to-come. We needed to pack up camp and descend a mile to ABC in the Western Cwm. With heavy packs and hot down suits we slid down the ropes for hours and hours. Past the Geneva Spur, past the Yellow Band, past Lhotse Camp IV and Everest Camp III… down to the part of the face that suddenly seemed to be melting under our very crampons. In the space of two days, spring had turned to summer and it seemed the climbing season was supposed to be over. We were greatly relieved to hit the bottom of the wall in safety and to trudge into ABC just after sunset.
Morning still held a little anxiety for us as we each knew we’d have to successfully wend our way through the Khumbu Icefall one more time. The word was that it was crumbling and collapsing and heating up. And that turned out to be true, but we saw that the Icefall Doctors were doing a magnificent job keeping a route cobbled together through the mess. We took our time and placed our feet carefully and eventually hit all of the comfort and safety of base camp by mid-afternoon on the 27th of May.
The 28th was shower-and-pack-and-keep-fingers-crossed-day for the climbing team. Showering and packing for the obvious reasons, but keeping fingers crossed because the Sherpa team still had a final day of working in the Icefall to get all the gear down. Their strength and skill and our finger-crossing worked because they emerged victorious and unscathed by mid-day. The climb was over. By the morning of the 29th, we’d heard that there were long delays for those attempting to get fixed-wing flights from Lukla. The monsoon had worked its way into the lower valleys already and the weather was sloppy with cloud and rain. Instead we arranged a series of memorable helicopter rides from base camp to Kathmandu. There was plenty of hurry-up and wait… there was awe at the beauty of mountains and gorges seen from the air, there was sheer terror at the power of thunderstorms on small aircraft, there was gratitude for the skill of the pilots we’d watched performing miraculous rescues all season long… and at the end of the day yesterday, there was an easy dinner in a Kathmandu restaurant and a comfy hotel bed. Soon there will be home.
Thank You Very Much for keeping track of our expedition.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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.
Like most good climbing plans, I was told that the idea for the Climb for Five was hatched in a pub a while back. Already involved in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer charity that raises money for childhood cancer research, the three climbers came up with the idea of tackling serious mountaineering objectives in an effort to raise money and awareness for St. Baldrick’s by using the metaphor of climbing to illustrate the challenges and trials children go through while battling cancer. Hence, on Sunday September 18th, Patrick, Eric, Jon and I gathered under a thick layer of grey and drizzly clouds hanging over Rainier BaseCamp to tackle Mt. Rainier over the course of a 5 day Expedition Skills Seminar - Camp Muir.
The days of near fifty degree temperatures and rain, coming down in sheets at times, did not do much to instill confidence in the conditions above. Yet within a half an hour of leaving the trail head at Paradise the clouds thinned and by the time we reached 7,600’ on the Muir Snowfield we were standing in the sun above the low-lying maritime clouds. Above us Mt. Rainier stood proudly with a fresh layer of snow from the recent storm blanketing its’ slopes. During the rest of the climb to Muir, Patrick further explained the concept for Climb for Five to me: St. Baldrick’s chooses five Ambassador Kids every year, representing that for every 5 children that get childhood cancer only 4 survive. The Climb for Five honors those Ambassadors; each day of the climb is chosen to honor one of the kids and the climbers carried keepsakes from each of the kids with them throughout the climb.
After a full day of training, learning the fundamentals of safe climbing and glacier travel techniques, exploring the Cowlitz Glacier outside of Camp Muir, and preparing ourselves for the climbing above, we set off on our summit bid under a beautifully starry sky early Wednesday morning. The new snow on the mountain smoothed over the rocky sections of the mountain and we made good progress across Cowlitz and Ingraham Glaciers and onto Disappointment Cleaver. Just before sunrise, breathing hard from the exertion at those altitudes, we reached the top of the Cleaver and added more clothes to fight the biting predawn winds. Continuing above the Cleaver the sun finally began to break above the horizon of eastern Washington and gave way to one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen on the mountain. The unsettled layers of clouds filtered the light such that shades of pink, red, yellow, orange, green, and blue were simultaneously covering the mountain’s glaciers and the surrounding landscape below. The array of colors around us contrasted sharply with the traditional monotones of high alpine environments of rock, ice, and snow. Unfortunately, those same unsettled clouds soon overtook the sun and by 13,500’ we were enveloped in a cloud cap, covering us in a thick layer of rime ice and blowing just enough to add to the challenge of making the final 900’ of climbing to the summit.
Standing on top, buffeted by the wind and precipitation, Eric and Patrick unfurled the St. Baldrick’s Banner and then pulled out a few keepsakes in memory of Arden, the Ambassador Kid for whom we were climbing that day. We then turned back and set our sights on descending. Like children battling cancer, reaching the summit is only half of the battle - the road to recovery once defeating the cancer is as long and as challenging as retracing one’s route back down the mountain. We carefully picked our way back down Mt. Rainier’s flanks, weaving our way amongst the seracs and around the gaping late-season crevasses that cover the mountain back to camp.
The winds from higher on the mountain descended not long behind us and continued to blow for the next several days while we finished the rest of the Seminar: building snow anchors, practicing the rigging systems needed for crevasse rescue, and ice climbing on the Cowlitz Glacier before descending back to Ashford on Friday. Taking part in the Climb for Five was a special experience for me and I feel fortunate to be involved. Having lost a sister to cancer as a kid, I share the same with the climbers of the Climb for Five and the entire climb struck a chord with me and I look forward to future climbs with this team. Thanks to Patrick, Eric, Jon, and St. Baldrick’s for pursuing this endeavor, RMI is proud to be a part of it.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory
The Safari Team is back at the Dik Dik! We’ve had a great couple of weeks but our trip is just about over. Last night we stayed at Kikoti Camp, an amazing safari camp that has tons of wildlife literally right in the middle of it. We went on a great little hike to a rock outcropping where we had drinks delivered while we enjoyed the sunset. It made for a great finish to an outstanding trip. Now everyone is busy getting ready for their respective flights home.
Thanks for a great trip guys!
RMI Guide Seth Waterfall
Posted by: | November 26, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training
On an expedition someone once announced to our group, “It’s not the altitude that’s hard, it’s the lassitude”! I’ve also heard it called Lazy-tude and I’ll admit to suffering from this once in a while ... even at sea-level and especially after holidays!
At high altitude, lassitude is a real factor. The work is hard and on a rest-day it’s easy to dig down a little into a minus-20 sleeping bag and remain as motionless as possible, conserving energy and restoring ourselves. And yet, after a while it’s easy to get into a funk, start feeling restless and then begin over-thinking the rest of the climb. At least this is my experience and there’s only one solution; find socks, boots, gloves, hats and any other required gear before suiting up and going for a walk. It’s great because it activates the body, stretches the legs and boosts your overall energy.
The same is true for training. It’s easy to sit inside in November and, in much of the country, look outside at the rain or snow. At that moment in time the positive feelings of imagining climbing, being out in beautiful surroundings and experiencing new heights, can all seem distant.
At times like this I find that the simplest workout is all that is needed to feel great and most importantly, to move in the direction of our training goals. In my case, I find that mood follows action - rarely the other way around. So, I have a few ‘go-to’ work outs that are so simple or enjoyable that it only takes me a small effort to start:
1. 10-minute walk, 20-minute run, 10-minute walk.
2. 30 minutes of stairs, elliptical or stair-master machine.
3. The Daily Dozen with a 100-yard run between each exercise.
If you have eaten a few small feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s raining outside and the couch looks awfully inviting but you know you want to do something because the expedition date is coming up in a few months or next year, just do a short and simple workout! Enjoy the feeling of activity, maybe even leave your watch or heart rate monitor behind and listen to some good music as you go.
It doesn’t take much and you will feel great!
It also doesn’t hurt to have a reminder what spectacular views await on the mountain!
- 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.
Questions? Comments? Leave a comment to share your thoughts with John and other readers!
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