Entries from Guide News
April 22, 2023
Categories: Guide News
From Dan May
At the beginning of April a crop of RMI guides including myself, Leif Bergstrom, Henry Coppolillo, Lacie Smith, Tatum Whatford, and George Hedreen, headed off to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to work on honing our alpine guide skills with the help of the AMGA. We split our time between Boulder and Estes Park, Colorado while completing the Alpine Guide Course. Often in these courses, you are amongst colleagues spread across other guiding companies, however in this instance, we had the opportunity to work and learn together. Being able to sharpen our guiding skills in alpine terrain amongst our peers that we work with in the North Cascades, Denali, and South America was a great opportunity.
These courses offer us the chance to add additional tools to our ever-growing toolkit as guides while being reviewed, critiqued, and taught by the AMGA instructors. While romping around the Flat Irons, Eldorado Canyon, and Tyndall Gorge of Rocky Mountain National Park, we took turns climbing rock, ice, snow, and mixed routes while guiding each other through the terrain. These chances and skills as a guide are invaluable. It is easy to convince your friends to go climbing with you, but to convince your friends to let you guide them through peculiar terrain to practice your techniques and skill sets is another story.
At the end of the nine days, all RMI guides successfully completed the course and had a great time doing so. Now we are all turning our sights to Ashford and Mt. Rainier in preparation for another great summer of climbing.
Thank you for sharing how you, as guides, maintain & improve your skills. I hope to climb with RMI this year. I wish you all a safe and healthy climbing season!!
Posted by: James O’Neil on 4/23/2023 at 9:49 am
September 17, 2022
RMI Guides JT Schmitt, Dustin Wittmier and Dominic Cifelli are in Nepal on an expedition with the main objective to climb Manaslu without supplemental oxygen. They departed the United States on September 1st and are able to check in from basecamp:
We arrived at Manaslu basecamp on September 11th after four days of trekking through remote valleys in Nepal. Most days were spent shrouded in a cloudy veil, but we were treated to the occasional view of rugged glaciers clinging to high mountains. Staying in tea houses, we were immersed in Nepalese and Sherpa cultures through conversation and enjoying traditional foods together.
Six days after arriving in basecamp we are well established at 16000’ and have made our first rotation on the mountain. We spent three days moving to as high as Camp 2 at 21,000’, setting up our tent and caching gear. On that rotation we spent two nights at Camp 1, letting our bodies acclimatize to sleeping at 18900’.
Currently we are on our third rest day, waiting out torrential rains; and the report from higher on the mountain is that there is significant snow accumulation. It is beneficial that Wi-Fi is available in basecamp so we can continue to monitor weather forecasts, waiting for a window to make a second rotation.
We are hopeful we will be able to push through some marginal weather tomorrow to take advantage of a small, upcoming window. Our second rotation will hopefully allow us to reach Camp 4 at 24,300’, to cache some gear and set us up for a summit push.
RMI Guides JT Schmitt, Dustin Wittmier & Dominic Cifelli
Stay strong team! Love you Dom. Uncle artie
Posted by: Art cifelli on 9/21/2022 at 4:30 pm
This is So Awesome!! You Are Strong!! You can do this!! After all you pulled my old farmer a$$ to the top of Cotopoxi!!!
All the best for Strength and Stamina Dustin!!!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 9/19/2022 at 7:17 am
Words by Clarence Norment:
I’ve been climbing Rainier for a long time – 40 years to be exact! I first climbed with Wilderness Ventures, through RMI, in 1982 when I was 16. Since then, I’ve climbed 4 additional times – in ’96 with my late wife Mary Elisa on a cross-country trip right after we got married, in ’97 on a 5-day Muir skills seminar, in 2012 with Casey Grom, and in 2017 with a group of seven friends on a team led by Jess Matthews! This time around, I brought my daughter, Charlotte, who has wanted to climb ever since she was little, but had to wait until she was old enough! She’s heading into her senior year in high school, which is exactly when I first climbed. So this is a really cool full circle experience for us. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have some awesome experiences with RMI, led by some amazing guides: John Day and Craig Van Hoy back in the 80s, George Dunn and Phursumba in ’96, Jeff Witherspoon in ’97, Casey in 2012, and Jess Matthews in 2017.
Charlotte and I had an AWESOME climb with Nikki. The summit wasn’t in the cards this time around, but we did get to the top of the DC and had an incredible experience – and got back down safe and sound, which is always key! It was the first time I haven’t summitted, and my joke at the post-climb celebration was that it took me forty years and 6 tries to finally get a “Certificate of Accomplishment”! In all seriousness, I really am proud of this climb. Charlotte absolutely crushed it and was super strong – she would’ve continued on if I had – and I think the fire has been lit in her to make this a part of her life now, too. We’ll absolutely be back again, and my other two kids, Elena (20) and Clay (15) were very envious of Charlotte and are wanting to climb now too – so mission accomplished!
It has been such an amazing 40-year history, and having my daughter climb with me this time brought things full circle. She reminded me of myself when I climbed at her age – no fear whatsoever!
May 18, 2022
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
March 11, 2022
Categories: Guide News
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.
Luke was one of our guides in August 2018 on Rainier, he was awesome, just such an amazing energy and positive outlook. I got really bad cramps in my calves at Ingram flats and knowing the toughest part was still ahead a decided to turn around with another climber that was having troubles with the altitude, Luke guided us back down and then a few hours , when the sun was out took us up to Muir peak to see some great views. I was very impressed with Luke and our lead guide Brian, I just climbed Mount Shasta this week, via Avalanche gulch and thought of the lessons I learned on Rainier with Brian and Luke , Rest steps, breathing techniques, packing up gear, all those things that help make you more efficient as a climber. I am so very saddened to hear of his passing, he will be deeply missed, and though I only knew in for a few days, he is that special kind of person that leaves and ever lasting impression on people. God Bless Luke and his family, Moose.
Posted by: Matt Mellenthin on 6/3/2023 at 5:17 pm
Luke was one of my guides in 7/18, we got 1000 ft from the summit before having to turn back. He was so positive!! He and I hiked down the entire way from Camp Muir, just the two of us with the group behind…. He and I chatted about life and Philosophy. He could have been my child and we kept in touch for a couple of years. I just flew to WA from CO for a business trip and found his email while deleting things. Then thought of him and others on my drive to Yakima. I emailed him and it bounced back, no recent activity on social media…. And my heart sunk & I googled and just got the news. I’m so saddened, but know he lived life to the fullest and was doing what he loved!!!! Keep on keepin’ on Luke….. hope to run into you again someday!!!!
Posted by: Julie Frisbey on 4/18/2023 at 6:40 pm
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