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Entries from Guide News

Celebrating and Remembering the 1982 China-Everest Expedition

Expedition leader Lou Whittaker and several members of the 1982 China-Everest Expedition gathered on May 18, 2022, to commemorate the climb’s 40-year anniversary and pay homage to Marty Hoey, our dear friend and fellow RMI guide, who lost her life on the trip. May 18, was Marty’s birthday. Marty’s 90-some years young mom, Mar, was in attendance along with Everest team members Eric Simonson, Dan Boyd, Joe Horiskey, and Jim Wickwire. Marty, 31 at the time of her death, was a tenured RMI guide attempting to become the first American woman to summit Everest. Marty started guiding on Mt Rainier in the early 70’s, and led expeditions to Denali, Aconcagua, and the Fairweather Range in Alaska. A Memorial honoring Marty and 1963 Everest climber Lute Jerstad is located on the Gig Harbor waterfront at the Bogue Viewing Platform, http://www.cityofgigharbor.net/177/Bogue-Viewing-Platform. Others in attendance included Peter and Kerry Whittaker, Lou’s wife Ingrid, Joe’s wife Marjorie, John Kalbrener, Kip Kalbrener, Leslie Kalbrener, LeRoy Kingland, Randy & Kathy Sackett, Tori Withington, Mary Martha, Craig Reininger, and Christopher Lynch. Christopher’s dad Jerry co-founded RMI with Lou Whittaker in 1969.

May 18, 1980, is notorious, of course, for the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Pete and Joe recalled their learning of the event while tent-bound in a blizzard at 14,000’ on Denali. Unfortunately, it was to be our ‘high point’ on that particular Denali climb.

Of personal significance is that May 18, 1974, RMI guides John Kalbrener, Laury (Ape) Bye, and Joe Horiskey reached the summit of Denali for the first time! 18 days to the summit and 2 days down. Cliff Hudson flew us off the mountain, we jumped into our waiting 1965 Mustang (prepared to drive back down the Al Can Highway), and immediately ran out of gas! Ray Genet saved our bacon, offering a syphon hose and inviting us to take all we wanted!

Our get-together in Gig Harbor yesterday was a memorable and fitting tribute to a special day, May 18.  

RMI Guide and Owner Joe Horiskey

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In Memory of RMI Guide Luke Wilhelm

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you that our fellow RMI Guide, colleague, and friend Luke Wilhelm died on Sunday, March 6th. Luke was climbing with a friend and fellow RMI Guide in the North Cascades when he fell. His climbing partner was able to safely descend. A search and rescue flight was able to locate and recover Luke the following day.   

Luke began his guiding career with RMI in 2018 and quickly impressed all those he met with his passion, skill, love of life, and contagious enthusiasm. He will be missed.  Our hearts and thoughts are with Luke’s family and with all of you. 

Luke – Your smile lights up every room you enter. You have impacted all of us at RMI. May your smile, compassion, and zest for life continue on in each of us.

RMI Guide Luke Wilhelm

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My deepest condolences.

Posted by: Bryan Fay on 3/24/2022 at 12:26 pm

I was fortunate enough to spend a few summers in New Hampshire with Luke.  His positive attitude was infectious. He was a leader even as a kid and someone everyone could look up to. He had an “all or nothing” approach to life that certainly left it’s impression on me and I know it did on others.

I know he’s keeping things 100% up there. He is missed.


Posted by: Chris on 3/21/2022 at 10:00 pm

Bringing safety to the complexity of Eldorado Canyon: Pepper Dee on his AMGA Rock Guide Course

When I moved to Boulder, Colorado in the fall of 2017, Eldorado Canyon was a place that I treated with a high degree of respect. Known for its delicate route-finding, variable rock quality, and stiff, old-school grading, Eldo is a humbling place to climb. Rock guiding in Eldo has always struck me as particularly impressive--the variability of the terrain in the canyon necessitates a familiarity with a wide range of guiding techniques in order to stay safe with a group of newer climbers. This is one of the main reasons why I chose this venue for my Rock Guide Course. My second mock lead on the course tackled an aesthetic, rambling three pitch climb on the Wind Tower. I had done the climb before, but had never been responsible for three other mock-climbers. I found myself doing nearly everything differently with my mock-climbers in tow--positioning my climbers out of the way of loose rock, breaking pitches up into shorter, up-and-down sections, and rigging lowers down exposed, short steps that I had always simply down-climbed. All told, a climb that had taken a mere hour and a half climbing independently took me three quite involved hours to guide. To me, that is the part of guiding that I will always love the most--the challenge of using every trick in your toolbox to make a section of terrain as safe as you can for your climbers. My Rock Guide Course endowed me with plenty of tricks, from terrain belays to rigging rappels to rope management systems. The real excitement of the course, though, was getting experience applying these tricks in one of the most complex rock climbing areas in the country.
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Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Conclude Trip

We call it mountain climbing not mountain summiting. Sometimes you travel long distances and spend many days preparing and you dont get to climb. We didnt get to climb anything on this trip. It turned into a high altitude cultural trek. But that is all ok. I know I have, and I'm sure the rest of the team, has learned some things. We will all remember this experience forever. We took many nationalities, languages, personalities, and experience levels onto this expedition. We got to experience rituals, sacrifices, festivals, home cooked meals and more. We saw and experienced the far west Nepal region in a way nobody gets to. I will remember all the people I have met along the way and shared delicious meals with. This will not be my last time in Nepal. I already look forward to coming back and drinking my weight in milk tea. Till next time Nepal. I look forward to climbing one of your beautiful mountains in the near future. Namaste, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Congratulations on your venture learning experience. I am in awe of you all!


Posted by: Michelle the Mom on 11/13/2018 at 9:59 pm

Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Continue Descent and Family Visit

We ate cookies for breakfast in a smokey room with tea. Shortly after we said goodbye to Laxmi and started our walk back to where we left our duffles. The only communication in these parts in by a messenger, word of mouth. When we left our duffles, the plan was that some duffles would keep going to Chainpur and our trekking duffles would be left waiting for us. We also thought the rest of our team would be there waiting. But the plan has clearly changed with no message for there were no duffles where we left them and all the porters and team members gone. We aren't sure exactly where they are or when we will see the rest of our team and duffles. But for now we are staying at another homestay. We will all sleep up in the attic and enjoy a home cooked meal of Dahl baht and chapati bread with black tea. From day one this journey has been fluid and unpredictable, so we will see what tomorrow brings. Goodnight, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Enjoy Time with Families

Dogs barking, goats baaing, cows mooing , and roosters crowing was our alarm clock today. We were greeted with tea and made our way up to Sangitas house for breakfast. The village was alive with children running around and chores being done. It appeared today was roof repair day. The old grayish brown hay was thrown down off the roof and new golden hay was tossed up. We enjoyed breakfast with the family, then soaked in the sun before enjoying some lunch too. It was the best Dahl we have had thus far and was delicious on top of the chapati bread. After filling our bellies we hiked back to Laxmis house. Clouds rolled in and we finished our hike in a bit of rain. The forest colors and smells popped with the freshness the rain brought. Experiencing the food and culture of these small villages has been amazing. It is an area everyone should come and see. Tomorrow we make our way back to where we had the medical camp on our way in. A handful of hours of walking should get us there. Hopefully the clouds will have dispersed and the weather is back to being sunny. Adios, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Explore More Far Western Nepal Villages

Today the team walked to two of our team members' villages. First we stopped at Laxmi's village. It took us 1.5 hours and we were greeted by Laxmi's daughter and family. They made us noodles, showed us a game that resembles pool and we were on our way. Next we stopped at Sangita's village, which is four hours from Laxmi. She is the last village in the valley. Her father is the chairman of the village. They greeted us with tea and a feast for dinner. We started with fresh veggies and local apples. Next they made us French fries. The main course consisted of fried blue sheep, greens, yogurt, and millet bread with local honey. It was delicious. Custom to their culture is treating their guests as gods and we sure felt like one. It's been a great day exploring more of far western Nepal. It is quite beautiful. Tomorrow we explore more, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Enjoy Time in Villages on Descent

Smoke dances from a fire under a lean two as a mother cooks breakfast for her children. The little boy wanders among the team curious about everything. He giggles as we make silly faces at him. Little huts and makeshift homes are scattered among the hillside and along the trail we are walking. The trail exist between the villages and where the silkworm hunters go. Today we walked four hours down valley along the river to a small establishment made up of three buildings. It is a tea house between villages. It is a crossroad for us with one direction leading back to Chaipur, where we will ultimately go and the other direction to the village of Sangita and Laxmi, two of the Nepali girls on our team. Tomorrow we will go see their villages and watch/learn as they celebrate brother and sister day. For tonight we are nestled in to what appears to be a cornfield/potato field. RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Awesome, chica! Enjoying your journey from afar

Posted by: Christy Mycroft on 11/8/2018 at 12:31 pm

MIssion Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Depart Base Camp, Head Down Hill

We woke this morning to a gorgeous view. With the help of daylight, we found a water source and enjoyed a cup of coffee. Perched on a grassy valley hillside, you could see snow capped mountains across the way. We all pointed at the ones we would climb if we had time, but unfortunately we do not. The col we went up and over steepened to a degree we were not comfortable going down so we headed back uphill. We arrived back at our Base Camp, but this time nothing was there. Everything has been packed up and headed downhill. We said goodbye to our home for the last 18 days, and made our way to what we call our jungle camp. Tomorrow we keep heading down hill back towards civilization, but on our way we are going to make a couple pit stops at the villages of two of the girls. Our sleeping bags our calling us. It's been a long day and last nights sleep wasn't the most comfy. Have a lovely day, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Love reading your story Hannah.  You are a terrific writer!

Posted by: Shannon Smith on 11/7/2018 at 1:29 pm

Mission Saipal: RMI Guide Hannah Smith & Team Leave Base Camp, Change Objective

Sometimes you find yourself in a place you didn't expect. One of those places is on the side of a grassy hill in Western Nepal squished in a tent with three other people sharing your snacks. We decided to leave Base Camp and try to go up over a col to another valley to attempt to climb a peak. It turns out our eyes for the mountains are bigger than the desire and fitness of the team. We started too late. We took too long to get to the pass. And we found ourselves entering steep grassy terrain with consequences on both sides as night time crept in. We were not going to get to the valley below. It's been a long day. We decided to find the flattest spot, which is not flat at all, and put up the tents. The conditions aren't ideal, with no water or snow to make water. But with all that has happened today, you find the fun and happiness in the little things, like sharing snacks with your friends and eating a hard boiled egg. We will see what happens tomorrow, RMI Guide Hannah Smith
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Well I love your attitudes! You should get a reward for finding the positive in every day. Keep on chugging. I hope the snacks hold out.


Posted by: michelle the mom on 11/6/2018 at 11:16 pm

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