Posts for Guide News

RMI Guide Alex Barber Wraps Up His Trip to Annapurna

Posted by: Alex Barber | May 23, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Thank you to everyone who followed the climb. I deeply appreciate all the support I felt from this community!

You can view photos of my trip to Nepal in my Dropbox gallery. Included are a few from working with the local people after the quake. As for what the immediate future holds for me, today I’m packing for my yearly pilgrimage to guide on Mt. Rainier for RMI. I am psyched to get back up to the Pacific Northwest, share the experience of mountaineering with others, and see my many good friends there. Again, thank you all for your support.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Alex Barber RMI Guide Alex Barber looking towards the higher slopes of Annapurna. Photo: Alex Barber RMI Guide Alex Barber trekking through devastated villages after the Nepal Earthquake. Photo: Alex Barber

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Hi Greg, great start,buddy! I hope you have found a nice hairy guy to keep you company this time - we feel guilty that we are not there looking after… read more

Posted by: Bruce Tocher on 5/23/2015 at 12:04 pm


RMI Guide Alex Barber Provides Update from Nepal

Posted by: Alex Barber | May 11, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Over the last week we’ve been trekking in the mountainous area above Gorkha. This area was at the epicenter of the quake. The villages we were getting “eyes on” had previously been declared “OK” by the Indian Army by helicopter observations. But these villages were anything but OK. Most were almost totally flattened.
Don Bowie has been our fearless leader. His ability to coordinate with large NGOs, and even the UN, to facilitate supply drops to these hard hit and hard to reach areas has been amazing. And when I say hard to reach I’m NOT kidding. Our first day from Baluwa to Laprak was another precarious scramble up a 10,000′ vertical gain and unknown linear mileage over rough, broken, and treacherous terrain. The heat had us all hurting and in many places landslides made the trek in very precarious. Descending down from Laprak, through the villages of Lapu and Bhirkuna, was straight-up steep no-fall terrain through a thick prickly jungle. Landslides in this area took the trail out, so we had to bushwhack a new trail. All in all, though, we were able to deliver accurate needs assessment reports from these remote villages. Once we made our assessments we would then forward these by SAT phone to the NGOs incident command with the ability to respond by arranging to helicopter in the supplies which was our objective.
Today Don Bowie, Ben Erdmann, Jess Roskelley and Cody Tuttle left to work with the UN’s World Food Program headquarters in Gorkha to assist in coordinating overland aid distribution. For more information, on Don and team check out donbowie.com.
Whats next? Soon I’m headed back to Kathmandu then stateside to begin the guiding season on Mt Rainier with RMI. 
RMI Guide Alex Barber

RMI Guide Alex Barber works with others to determine need in villages near Gorkha.  Photo: Alex Barber The village of Barpak in the mountainous region above Gorkha, the epicenter of the April 25th earthquake.  Photo: Alex Barber

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1

Appreciate the eye witness updates you have provided.  Safe travels home.

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Posted by: Mary on 5/12/2015 at 5:23 am


RMI Guide Alex Barber Assisting Remote Areas in Nepal

Posted by: Alex Barber | May 03, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Trekked out to Tatopani yesterday (5/1) without too much difficulty. The UN affiliated NGO has supplied us with jeeps and equipment and we’ve started the effort to access remote areas of Nepal in need of assistance. Don’t know how often I’ll be able to provide updates, but I will when possible.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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RMI Guide Alex Barber Leaving Annapurna to Help Those in Need after Nepal Earthquake

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 29, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Since the earthquake I have been mostly holed up at Annapurna Base Camp. After the quake I couldn’t let go of my desire to finish what I’ve started with Annapurna. I’d put in so much focus and taken on so much risk to be in a position to make a nO’s ascent, especially as a team of one. But the reports of the destruction and hardship kept flooding in. Then one morning I could feel myself having let go of Annapurna and my interest shifted to seeing if I could get out of here to assist the people of Nepal. So that’s it, my Annapurna expedition is finished.
Yesterday I went back up on the mountain to pull my cached equipment at Camp 1. I have another cache at Camp 3, but it’s unsafe to go that high on the mountain now, so I’ll be abandoning that cache.
I’ve teamed up with a few other Americans here in Nepal to work with a NGO affiliated with the UN. The plan is to meet up in Pokhara, then head out from there with equipment and jeeps supplied by the NGO. My first hurdle is it get out of base camp and down to Pokhara; which is easier said than done. Naturally, the government here has commandeered all the helicopters for rescue efforts. But we flew into base camp in helicopters for a reason, the trek out is sketchy. The US embassy has offered to airlift Americans out of remote areas, but I’m fit and able so I intend to walk out on my own. Tomorrow morning I and some others from the Annapurna Base Camp will be attempting this trek. We’re headed for Pokhara. Once we arrive there, I’ll meet up with the other American climbers. Our current directive from the NGO is to access some of the remote villages in this region and to report back on their situation, conditions, and immediate needs. Hopefully this will help expedite resources to the people in need.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

RMI Guide Alex Barber leaving Annapurna to help those in need after Nepal earthquake. Photo: Alex Barber

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9

Alex, it’s nice to know you’re safe.  Better to climb for another day.  Just like you to walk out on your own.  Be safe and let me know if and… read more

Posted by: Lee Hoedl on 5/1/2015 at 7:53 pm

Be safe and our prayer will be with you.

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Posted by: Kevin Stone on 4/30/2015 at 7:33 am


Our thoughts are with our team, the people of Nepal, and all those affected by this tragedy

Posted by: | April 28, 2015
Categories: *Guide News *Responsible Climbing

All of us at RMI are truly grateful for the support shown in regards to our Everest climbing team, Sherpa team, and guides—Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, and Mark Tucker. Our thoughts are with our team, the people of Nepal, and all those affected by this tragedy.

It may be weeks before we really can comprehend the damage and devastation caused by this earthquake. While the rugged and mountainous terrain are a big part of what makes Nepal beautiful, this terrain also makes it very difficult to help those in need after such a major catastrophe.

There are many great organizations helping out with disaster relief efforts in Nepal, and more help and money is definitely needed. We feel the best way to help is by donating to organizations that are directly involved with the disaster response. The organizations listed below have staff members in Nepal and are working hard to provide clean water, food, shelter, and medical aid to those in need. These selected organizations have also been vetted on the charity rating site Charity Navigator and score well for their accountability, transparency, and financial standards.

We want to encourage everyone to do what they can to help the people of Nepal.

Doctors Without Borders
Mercy Corps
American Red Cross

We thank you for your continued support as our team, and many others, begin their journey home.


RMI Guide Alex Barber Safe At Annapurna Base Camp

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 25, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Just a quick note to you that everyone here at Annapurna is safe. Yesterday everyone came down off the mountain to wait out some heavy storms. It had been snowing steadily all day today when the large earthquake struck just before noon. It was so forceful! It felt as if we were inside a snow globe being shaken by God. The storm kept us from seeing much but we could hear avalanches ripping down the mountains all around us. The roar was so loud I thought we’d surely be hit. Annapurna Base Camp is situated on a muddy ridge clinging to an adjacent mountain. During the earthquake large sections peeled off and cascaded down some 800ft to the glacier below. Totally insane, but nothing made it to us, and everyone is safe here.

My thoughts go out to everyone in Nepal, especially my friends in Kathmandu and over on Everest.

Climbing Update:
The 24th of April I descend all the way from Camp 4 at 7000m on Annapurna to base camp.
But before I get into why I descended without attempting the summit I’ll talk about the earthquake. It had been snowing steadily all morning today when, at around noon, a large earthquake struck. The earthquake was so forceful, it felt as if we were inside a snow globe being shaken by God. The storm kept us from seeing much but we could hear avalanches ripping down everywhere. The roar was so loud I thought we’d surely be hit. Annapurna Base Camp is situated on a muddy ridge clinging to a adjacent mountain. During the earthquake large sections peeled off and cascaded down some 800ft to the glacier below. Totally insane.
As I write this another roar of what sounds to be a massive avalanche rips down Annapurna.
On the 23rd I made my way up from Camp 3 to Camp 4. The route is straight-forward. It starts with a low angle section of ice up a serac out of camp 3. To a traversing section of steep snow then a long ramp to C4. The ramp connects the German Rib with the summit area of Annapurna. The ramp is a slope of 30 to 45 degrees and it was covered in fresh deep snow up to waist deep.
That afternoon myself and another team set up camp underneath a serac at 7000m. Their plan was to start out that same night with their 4 Sherpa guides to leave at 8pm to break the route and the 4 members of their group to follow at 9pm.
I decided not to attempt the summit because:
- Too cold of a night to climb without supplemental oxygen
- Retreat would be difficult at night as the wind was blowing too much snow and covering the track.
- no previous time spent above 18,000’, so I was not properly acclimatized.
- too much technical ground below us - with forecasted storm by Noon the next day.
- high risk of avalanche if caught above camp 2 after the storm.

I descended from C4 the morning of the 23rd. As I was leaving, the members of the team that had attempted to summit started straggling in from their failed summit attempt. They were too tired to descend from C4. I re-broke the route to C3 in sketchy and quite heavy deep snow. As I dropped down a final steep descent before Camp 3 on an arm wrap rappel, I plunged into a concealed crevasse. I was already feeling quite sick from overheating in my down suit. The sun had come out and started slowly deep frying me in the down suit. But luckily I was stable enough that I could wriggle out of the suit without falling any further. Half way in a hole, about to vomit from overheating and my arm wrap biting into my forearm, I comically rolled down into C3. I was moaning in discomfort, dry heaved a few times, and laid there motionless for a time.
I had to get moving again though, because the weather was coming in fast. I cached a few things at Camp 3 and started rappelling off the serac whose top forms the flat surface of camp 3. The route down the German Rib is steep and riddled with crevasses and alpine ice. But large areas of the route had deep snow blown in from the night prior.
... Another large avalanche is ripping down Annapurna… this place is quite unstable since the earthquake.
Soon after completing my descent from the serac I, twice, stuck a leg into a concealed crevasse while rappelling down the further slope. I shouted to a Sherpa named Pemba from the summit team that we’d better employ the buddy system and re-break the route together. As we started down the visibility went to zero and a heavy fall of snow started.
About midway down we lost our rappel lines and started carefully climbing down without the safety of the lines. Searching the snow with our ice tools for the rappel lines while slowly inching our way down. We were In a couloir with seracs all around and above us, my mind kept telling me we were in a very dangerous place to be moving so slowly. A few minutes before finding the lines again we set off a small slab slide 3 ft to our right. Things were getting spooky!
Finally, we made the last rappel onto the glacier below the German Rib. Now the last hurdle was finding camp 2 in a whiteout. An island of safety in the insanely dangerous glacial field below the crosshairs couloir and sickle ice cliffs. In the reduced visibility we wove through large ice blocks of avalanche debris by GPS. We moved with baited breath - hoping not to hear that tell tale rumble that has become such a familiar sound to me here at Annapurna.
The Korean team a day earlier had had a near miss right in this area.
After having been on the move on a very scary mountain, in terrible weather, for 11 hours I finally arrived at Base Camp at 8:40pm that night. Descending through deep snow and limited visibility all day. At Base Camp I found out that an avalanche had hit the team at camp 4 earlier that night. No one was hurt but they had to cut their way out of their tents. They were also all exhausted from their summit attempt. Including one climber who had frostbite on his hands and one suffering from HAPE. They would later be rescued via helicopter. Three of the 5 teams here at Base Camp are leaving, The team that attempted the summit blew their oxygen supply. Another team’s Sherpas bailed because of concerns that Annapurna wasn’t to be climbed this year. The mountain is angry. Yet another small team’s permit has run out.
I was planning to stay until mid-May as now I am acclimatized and my equipment is cached. However, with recent events I’m not sure what will happen, there’s a lot of hearsay… and Annapurna sounds extremely unstable right now. I’ve heard at least three avalanches while I was writing this.

-RMI Guide Alex Barber

A climber crossing a glacier to Cleaver on the way to Camp 2 on Annapurna.  Photo: Alex Barber
12

seems like a good decision … move on the task apparently assigned to you

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Posted by: TaskMaster on 5/3/2015 at 8:39 am

Safe passage for the climbing team. Is there any word on Laurence Seaton? Peace be with you all,  Cindy Frederick

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Posted by: Cindy Frederick on 4/27/2015 at 7:37 pm


RMI Guide Alex Barber Establishes Camp 4 on Annapurna

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 22, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Climbed up and established Annapurna Camp 4 today.

The other climbers here at Camp 4 are talking about continuing on and making a try at the summit this evening (leaving here at ~9pm), because there is a storm forecast for tomorrow afternoon. This is not for me, so I’ll have to decide whether to make my summit attempt early tomorrow morning and risk being in a storm as I descend, or turn back and wait for a better weather window.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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2

Good to stick with your decisions and not someone else. 

Godspeed.

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Posted by: Mary on 4/23/2015 at 6:57 am

Go concur the world!

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Posted by: David deRoode on 4/23/2015 at 6:55 am


RMI Guide Alex Barber Weighing His Summit Bid Options

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 21, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Tonight I’m in Camp 3. This camp is hands down the most ridiculous camp I’ve ever made. It’s perched atop a small serac maybe 20’ by 20’ with huge drops on three sides. A 150 feet overhanging ice cliff is what I’m tucked under… to protect from avalanches. Yikes!

The past three days I’ve spent making my way up Annapurna. The first day (the 19th) I left Base Camp with two Sherpa guides to re-open the route after a week of snow. But on the way to Camp 1 and after arriving in Camp 1, I was observing avalanche activity that was just too frequent for my comfort to continue pushing on to Camp 2 (as was our original plan). Shortly after making the call to stop for the day at Camp 1, a massive avalanche broke high on Annapurna. Rumbling toward us, I thought, for a moment, it was gonna hit us but luckily it just dusted Camp 1 with a cloud of snow and a large gust of wind.

The 20th I made my way to Camp 2 and found my tent, that I had set up on April 4th when I first established the camp, buried under 7ft of snow. Three and a half hours later I had my tent unburied and patched up. Today, the 21st, I tackled the most technical and dangerous section of Annapurna. Namely, a 3,200-foot climb through steep alpine ice with large seracs always above you. Just think of ice blocks the size of tractor trailers just waiting their turn to rumble down the mountain side. About mid-way through the climb I broke one of the straps on my Millet 8000m boots. Taking refuge beneath a massive serac I quickly jimmy-rigged a fix and kept climbing. The key in these regions is to move as fast as is safe and possible for you.

This evening at Camp 3 I’m sharing this small ice pedestal with another team. We barely fit. Just as dark set in a large stove fire erupted in a tent adjacent to mine. Luckily I had my down suit and inner boots on and could rush out to help reduce the fire. Myself and a few other climbers rushed to kick gas canisters and oxygen bottles out of the fire; throwing snow on it, and principally focusing on preventing the other tents from catching fire. Unbelievably no one was injured! The tent and many of the occupant’s belongings were lost to the fire, but everyone is safe now.

It’s quite windy here tonight. Not sustained, but you can hear the gusts approaching from the distance. Not sure what my game plan is for tomorrow, either head to Camp 4 and make a summit attempt tomorrow evening; in which case I’d be racing a forecasted storm to the summit, or head back to Base Camp and wait for a more stable window.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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2

Whoa….....what an interesting trip so far, but slow and steady you go.  Good luck on the judgment call to go forward or take a step back. 

Just don’t quit… read more

Posted by: Mary on 4/22/2015 at 6:22 am

Good luck; be safe.

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Posted by: Lisa on 4/22/2015 at 3:29 am


RMI Guide Alex Barber Ready for Climbing After Long Weather Wait

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 18, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

It’s been awhile here at Annapurna Base Camp waiting out the bad weather. Today dawned clear and warm which sent the mountain into an impressive cycle of purging excessive snow as shown in the photo below.

The forecast is showing a period of reasonably stable weather. The next few days will be clear but windy. As the winds subside on the 22nd the snow returns the 24th. Currently my plan is to head directly to Camp 2 tomorrow with two Sherpa mountain guides. We’re going to attempt to break the route in all the way to Camp 4 over the next three days. The western climbers associated with these Sherpas will be following us up one day behind, eyeing the 23rd for a possible summit attempt. I’m skeptical that the 23rd will remain stable and/or that the conditions (deep snow) will allow a summit. Either way, I need more time spent up high, see the route past C2 (see photos below). And also, I just feel the need to stretch my legs and do some climbing after this long wait at BC.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

Significant avalanche shown in center bottom of Annapurna photo. Photo: Alex Barber Annapurna route past Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber

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I’m glad the weather is giving, even a little.  And good you are following you plans and instincts—not get in a hurry for the summit because someone else is.  Always… read more

Posted by: Mary on 4/19/2015 at 4:08 am


RMI Guide Alex Barber Checks in From Annapurna Base Camp

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 15, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 8:54 pm PT

I am still in Base Camp waiting out a period of unstable weather. About half a meter of snowfall so far at Annapurna Base Camp with more forecast over the next few days. During a break in the weather, a Base Camp wide snowball fight erupted for about 20 minutes, too much pent up energy around here!

RMI Guide Alex Barber

Panorama of Base Camp with Annapurna being the left most peak.  Photo: Alex Barber
1

What a beautiful, desolate place.  Enjoy the journey!!  Wishing you a very successful trip.  :)

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Posted by: Mary on 4/16/2015 at 5:57 am


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Recent Images From Guide News

  • Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber looking towards the higher slopes of Annapurna. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber trekking through devastated villages after the Nepal Earthquake. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber works with others to determine need in villages near Gorkha.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • The village of Barpak in the mountainous region above Gorkha, the epicenter of the April 25th earthquake.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber leaving Annapurna to help those in need after Nepal earthquake. Photo: Alex Barber
  • A climber crossing a glacier to Cleaver on the way to Camp 2 on Annapurna.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Significant avalanche shown in center bottom of Annapurna photo. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna route past Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Panorama of Base Camp with Annapurna being the left most peak.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna Base Camp to Camp 1. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna Camp 1 to Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna Camp 2 views. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Alex Barber at Annapurna Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna Base Camp looking toward the glacier leading to Camp 1. Photo: Alex Barber
  • The helicopter waits in Tatopani hoping for better weather to fly to Annapurna Base Camp.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Enjoying the hot springs in Tatopani while waiting for better weather.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Katie Bono. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Caleb Ladue manages gear, rope, and his other climbers mid route.   Photo: Seth Waterfall
  • No one had any complaints about the views at our venue, Smith Rock State Park, OR.  Photo: Caleb Ladue
  • Practicing haul systems with a roof over our heads.  Photo: Caleb Ladue
  • Billy Haas executes rescue drills in the vertical environment with the mentorship of instructor Jeff Ward.  Photo: Pete Van Deventer
  • The gorgeous venue of Smith Rock State Park, in Terrabone, OR   Photo: Seth Waterfall
  • Billy Haas leads the first pitch of the West Face route on the Monkey Face   Photo: Seth Waterfall
  • A view from Base Camp up towards the peak of Manaslu.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber trekking up to Camp 1 through the crevasses on the glacier between Base Camp and Camp 1 on Manaslu.  Photo: Marcin Kin
  • Manaslu Base camp from above.  Photo: Marcin Kin
  • The busy streets of Kathmandu. Photo: Billy Nugent
  • Bicycles and motorcycles aplenty in Kathmandu. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Traversing the Fedchenko Glacier (Zeb Blais)
  • The team at camp on the Fedchenko Glacier (Zeb Blais)
  • Snow pit instruction during the course (Lindsay Mann).
  • Lindsay skiing during the course (Lindsay Mann).
  • RMI Guide Alex Van Steen presents during the Career Fair at Columbia Crest STEM School. Photo: Alex Van Steen