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Mt. Everest: Update 4-18-14

Posted by: Mark Tucker | April 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

April 17th - 11:20 pm Pacific Time

RMI Guide and Everest Base Camp Manager Mark Tucker reports that RMI climbers, Sherpa and guides are safe at Everest Base Camp.  Around 7 am local time on April 18th an avalanche occured below the West Shoulder continuing down into the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the teams on Mt. Everest.

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Kara, So relieved to hear you are all OK. We’re thinking of all of you and sending our thoughts and prayers to families of those lost.  Take care of each… read more

Posted by: monica on 4/18/2014 at 5:25 am

Glad to hear the RMI team is safe.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.  Take care of each other. To the Sherpa and their families, my condolences.

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Posted by: Josh Jones on 4/18/2014 at 5:21 am


Mt. Rainier: Remembering Our Climbing Friends

Posted by: | June 01, 2014
Categories: *Mount Rainier

Our thoughts are with our friends at Alpine Ascents and with the family and relatives of the guides and climbers involved in the climbing accident on Mt. Rainier. The climbing community is tightly knit and we feel the loss deeply. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to all of those involved.

Please join the climbing community for a memorial service for Eitan Green and Mathew Hegeman:

Saturday, June 21, 2014 | 3 - 5 pm
The Mountaineers | 7700 Sandy Point Way NE | Seattle, WA 98115

- The RMI Team

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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

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Mountaineering Training | The Home Stretch

Posted by: | December 24, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

The Home Stretch is exactly what it sounds like: the last bit of your workout, the brief but essential stretching routine that will keep your muscles limber and strong. The routine starts at your toes and stretches to the top of your head and as far as your fingertips can reach.

UPPER CALF STRETCH
Starting position: Begin this stretch in the Downward Dog yoga posture: hands and feet flat on the ground, torso arched with rear up in the air, legs straight. If the Downward Dog position is uncomfortable, perform this stretch by leaning forward against a wall or another source of support, such as a tree or building, with arms straight and hands flat against the surface with legs straight and heels on the ground.
Movement: Place your left ankle above and behind the right ankle, just off the ground, so that you can feel an isolated stretch in your right calf. Keep your knee straight so as to isolate the gastrocnemius —one of two major muscles that comprise the calf. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

LOWER CALVES AND ANKLES
Starting position: Same as the Upper Calf Stretch — Downward Dog or the variation leaning against a wall.
Movement: Move your left ankle above and behind your right ankle as in the Upper Calf Stretch, with one difference: bend your right knee to isolate the soleus muscle in the lower part of your calf. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

HAMSTRINGS
Starting position: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Rest your head on the ground.
Movement: Raise your right leg, with a slightly bent knee if needed. Grasp the back of your upper leg (hamstrings) with both of your hands and gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

QUADRICEPS
Starting position: Lie flat on your stomach, chin on the ground and arms at your sides.
Movement: Raise your right ankle by bending your right knee. Grasp it behind your back with your right hand and then gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a gentle stretch in the quadriceps muscles (the front of the thigh). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Variation: If lying down on your stomach is uncomfortable, do this stretch standing up. Hold on to a tree or other support with your free hand, if necessary, as you grasp your ankle and gently pull it toward your body.

HIP FLEXORS
Starting position: Sit in a kneeling position with your left leg forward. Your right knee and left foot will be on the ground, with both knees bent at 90-degree angles.
Movement: Imagine that your pelvis is a bowl of water on a table. Now, think of gently tipping the water out of the bowl from the back as you gently press the bottom part of your pelvis forward and the top part of your pelvis slightly back so that you feel a stretch in the muscles that connect the front of your hip to your right leg. That subtle tipping will activate the hip flexor in the front of your right leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

ILIOTIBIAL (IT) BANDS
Starting position: Stand upright near a tree, wall, or other surface for balance. Cross your right leg over your left leg.
Movement: Extend your left arm to the surface for balance. Bend your body to the left with your right arm extended overhead, as though you’re doing a variation on the Side Bender from the Daily Dozen. Your goal is to feel a deep stretch in your right hip extending down to the outer part of your right leg.
Variation: Try the Pigeon Stretch if you’re particularly flexible. Sit on the ground and bend your left leg so that the heel is near the right hip. Extend the right leg straight behind you.

THIGH ADDUCTORS
Starting position: Sit upright with legs bent and heels placed together in front of you.
Movement: Gently press your knees toward the ground to feel a stretch in the adductors (inner thighs). Hold for 20 seconds.

BACK STRETCH
Starting position: Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground.
Movement: Gently move your knees to the left, placing them on the ground, making sure to also keep your shoulders on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your middle and lower back. Extend your arms to either side, and move your head so that you are looking to the right (away from your bent knees). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

STOMACH AND CHEST STRETCH
Starting position: Lie on your stomach, palms placed on the ground on either side of your chest, directly below your shoulders.
Movement: Look up toward the sky, gently curving your back while supporting your weight, hands on the ground. This is popularly known as the Cobra pose in yoga. Hold for 20 seconds.

TRICEPS STRETCH
Starting position: Stand upright or sit on your knees with your upper body strong and straight. Lift your left arm above your head and bend the left elbow to stretch the left triceps muscles.
Movement: Place your right hand on your left elbow to support the stretch, gently pressing the elbow back until you feel the muscle stretching. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

SHOULDER STRETCH
Starting position: Stand near a tree or another support. Place your left hand on the support, with your left arm fully extended.
Movement: Without moving your feet, rotate your body to the right until you feel a stretch in your left shoulder and the left side of your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.

FINAL BREATHING
To finish the Home Stretch, take five full breaths. First, exhale and deeply Squat to the ground, arms downward. Inhale by pushing up on your heels, extending your legs, and reaching your arms to the sky. Take these breaths very slowly and deliberately — you’re bringing relaxation into all areas of your body at the end of your workout, setting the tone for the next stage peacefully and with a great workout behind you.

- 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, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts with John and other readers on the RMI Blog!

RMI Guide Alex Van Steen climbing at sunrise on Mt. Rainier

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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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Yay to Bhai Chhering Dorjee. See u in Namche

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Posted by: Mitch on 5/25/2012 at 8:48 pm

Congratulations on your summit!  So awesome!  Blessings from Republic, WA.

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Posted by: Carlene Joy on 5/25/2012 at 8:43 pm


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: 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.

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI team enroute to Deboche

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Mt. Everest Expedition: Bill & Sara McGahan Start Their Expedition

Posted by: | March 28, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 11,300'

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.

Bill McGahan

(Photos by Expedition Leader Dave Hahn)

Bill and Sara McGahan with Mount Everest peaking out behind them Bill, Sara, Jeff Martin ready to walk out of Lukla Sara McGahan

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Mountaineering Training | Rest & Recovery

Posted by: | November 12, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Rest and recovery is an important part of the training process and there are many techniques, both active and passive, that can help. Recovery from your training efforts can be looked at from physiological and psychological perspectives. Here are some tips: 

1. Plan Your Training: The first step in getting adequate recovery is crafting a solid training plan allowing for phases of training to build progressively and allowing time for active rest.

2. Keep Track: Keeping a training log is a good way of reviewing your progress. I suggest recording not only the volume, intensity, and type of each workout completed, but also your own notes about how you felt in each workout. Self-monitoring how you feel mentally (strong, weak, interested, un-interested) will allow you to see how you are progressing in an overall sense.

3. Get Psychological Rest: Psychological strategies are important factors in reducing and managing stress. Relaxation, meditation, reading, visualization, and using a coach as a sounding board are all valuable tools in helping to maintain focus and a positive attitude throughout your training. Relaxation is also helpful in ensuring quality sleep, which is essential for recovery.

4. Take Social Time: Too much of a good thing can be bad for us. Taking a complete break from climbing and hiking to participate in alternative activities can be a good way to decompress. Mix your hard training up with a different sport; play soccer, frisbee - anything really. At RMI there is a penchant for beach volleyball, ping pong, and horseshoes - it’s a nice mental break from the mountain and those downtime matches are intense but a lot of fun. 

5. Get Therapeutic Rest: Sports massage, some forms of yoga, hot baths, and hydro-massage are just some examples of the many techniques available to help relax muscles after training and prepare for subsequent training sessions. 

6. Pay Attention to Nutrition: Proper nutrition is essential for complete recovery. Quality food that is rich in nutrients is a key requirement for re-supplying energy stores and maintaining our body, it’s muscles, bones, organs, and systems (see Nutrition for Mountaineering Training for more information on nutrition).

Mountain climbing is tough on the mind and body - and so is training for it. When we climb we steal every opportunity to recover from the hard work so that we can get up the next day and do it again. Training demands the same attention to rest and recovery. This is a work-hard, rest-hard activity and often times your success will be as much dependent on how well you rest as how hard you train. 

- 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!

RMI Trekkers soaking in the views at the head of the Khumbu Valley, Nepal.

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Guide Shack: Elias de Andres Martos

Posted by: Elias de Andres Martos | December 15, 2011
Categories: *Guide News

RMI Guide Elías de Andrés Martos organized a team of RMI Guides to climb Tibet’s Shishapangma (26, 289’), the world’s 14th highest mountain. The team reached the summit on October 11th & 12th. We sat down with Elías after the expedition to chat with him about the climb.


RMI: What first inspired you to climb Shishapangma?

Elías: I had been hoping to go climb an 8,000 meter peak for awhile. When you have that in your head and you have never been to the Himalayas, at first it looks like any peak - if the opportunity arose - would suffice. For the last couple of years, the objective was looking closer and closer, and the deeper research started. Initially I wanted to climb Dhaulagiri, as it was the dream of one of my mentors who never could do it. But I was determined to go this past fall and it turns out that Dhaulagiri is not the best for the post monsoon season, so I started to look at other mountains. Shishapangma seemed beautiful, rising alone on the Tibetan plateau. Easy access played a key role, as it also diminished the cost. And of course, it offered a relatively “easy” and “safe” line for this, our first, 8000 meter peak.


RMI: Organizing an expedition to an 8000 meter Himalayan peak is a major undertaking, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in simply getting the expedition off of the ground?

Elías: Of course the budget is the main undertaking. It is fairly expensive, particularly when one does it pretty much out of pocket. (We have to thank RMI’s indispensable Guide Grant and First Ascent‘s gear support.) This challenge leads to the difficulty of building a team as well; initially, along with my wife Bridget, I had this trip planned with my two good climbing friends from Spain, but getting 2 months off of work in addition to the funding, made it impossible for them to participate, so I had to start with 0 climbers just 6 months prior to the trip, when everything was logistically planned. Luckily, working for RMI made it easy to “collect” good friends for the expedition. Jake Beren, Geoff Schellens, Eric Frank, and Leon Davis were memorable companions. Ironically, the logistics were fairly easy, thanks to the internet and to Nima, our great contact in the Himalayas.


RMI: How did your previous climbing and guiding experience prepare you for the climbing and organizational challenges of the expedition?

Elías: That experience was probably a good 50% of the success of the trip. Having been on expeditions in other parts of the world is a great help that teaches you how to quickly act when facing problems or difficult situations, whether logistics or interactions with the local people. You come up with solutions or new plans on the go and deal with it.

The climbing and guiding experience among all of us on the team was definitely another great plus. Without much talking, we know what you have to do in different situations and the flow of the climb is as smooth as it can be as a result. Being a professional in the field, that usually works towards helping others achieve this goals, makes you have a greater temper on decision making too.


RMI: What was your impression of the Himalayas?

Elías: What can I say? It is the biggest mountain range in the World!!! Shishapangma sits alone in Tibet and unfortunately we drove to the trailhead from Kathmandu with clouds [covering the mountains], so we could not see much at first. When we all saw the mountain for the first time at Chinese Base Camp at sunrise, we were like little kids on Christmas day in front of Santa’s gifts - so excited. But at the same time you acknowledge the magnitude of the mountain and get those butterflies in your stomach.

I was lucky to have some time afterwards to explore the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri and the Solu Khumbu regions of Nepal, where the concentration of mountains is greater and the steepness of their walls grows exponentially…I have no words to describe what I felt there.


RMI: Give us a glimpse into your daily routine on a long expedition like this…

Elías: Wake up, breathe. Eat breakfast and come up with a plan, breath. Climb or rest, breathe. Try to have a hearty dinner, breathe…sleep. Start over.


RMI: Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip you can share?

Elías: Of course the summit. We made it to the Central Summit of Shishapangma at 8013 meters. I cried. I am very sentimental at points and being able to give a hug to my wife and two good friends up there after pursuing such a long dream is indescribable.


RMI: Any advice for climbers that have aspire to climb in the Himalayas one day?

Elías: Go for it. I think that such an undertaking requires determination. If there is a will there is a way and money and time to do it will materialize. Train for it and learn the skills that are necessary to do it. Be determined with your dream and with what it requires. And if you do not climb on your own, climb with a good guide, like the ones of RMI!!!


RMI: What is next for you?

Elías: As far as guiding goes, anything where I can help RMI clients. As I am shifting towards being more of a full time guide, I am very thankful for the opportunities RMI is giving me. I’m headed to Aconcagua (*Elías is currently on Aconcagua) and I am looking forward to the remainder of the winter with the ice climbing programs.

Personally, I have big ice and mixed climbing projects for this winter-spring locally here in Colorado and in the Canadian Rockies. Since the Himalayan bug has bitten me, I have to admit that plans for Dhaulagiri are “in the oven”.

Elias and his wife Bridget on the summit of Shishapangma. Shishapangma, 26,289'. Elias and Bridget in the tent at Camp 1. Geoff Schellens, Elias de Andres-Martos, and Jake Beren on the Central Summit of Shishapangma - Photo by Bridget Schletty

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