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RMI Expeditions Blog


Mountaineering Training | Mindful Movement

As a skiing and climbing guide, athlete, and yoga instructor, I am continually impressed by the correlation between success in the mountains and a regular yoga or meditation practice. In my personal experience, by taking time each day to completely focus my attention on simple movements in conjunction with controlled breathing, even for a just a short period of time, I have found that I can dramatically increase my ability to handle a higher mental stress load and consciously reign in a respiratory-system-gone-rogue.
The primary intention behind a yoga practice is the alignment of a series of movements with the coordination of the breath. Beyond the poses, aside from the stretching, before the flow, and without regard to the brand of clothing you choose to wear or the space in which you practice, is the synchronization of intentional movements with focused and controlled breathing. That is the essence of yoga.
One of my favorite quotes is by Sharon Gannon: “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you areas where you are resistant in your natural state”. Instead of hand-eye coordination, think body-breath coordination.
This training allows the individual the ability to more easily and calmly focus on a specific task and execute difficult movements with precision—especially, and perhaps most importantly—when pushing towards exhaustion.
The goal of starting a mindful movement practice is in taking this basic principle and applying it to any activity of your choosing.
I understand yoga is not for everyone. Personally, I love the quiet space, the dance of a well-sequenced vinyasa flow, and in the winter months I crave the warmth and full body lymphatic cleanse of a heated studio; they are always significantly cozier than the mid-January temperature of my 1920’s craftsman and warm my core after a day of skiing far better than even the highest, most overworked setting of my Subaru’s seat-heating capabilities. That being said, I know plenty of guides and world-class athletes who firmly believe that yoga—of any sort—is not, and never will be, for them.
The secret is that these individuals find other activities with which to strengthen their mental game and incorporate mindful movement. Biking, running, swimming, pilates, even those post-work hikes with a heavy pack, all provide the opportunity to spend a few moments really thinking about and tuning in to your body positioning, your motor patterns, the rate and quality of your breath, all while tuning out the external static of life.
So my challenge for you in writing this blog post, if not to inspire you to rush off and attend the nearest yoga class, is to move through a few minutes of your next workout focused on not just exercising, but moving with intention, breathing in coordination with the efforts of your activity, and turning off the music in an effort to quiet your mind and direct your attention entirely to the task at hand. By practicing mindful movement in your daily tasks and familiar workouts, you will increase and strengthen your ability to use those same techniques to lower your respiratory rate and remain calm, thus allowing you to be more relaxed and move more efficiently when confronted with new and/or difficult tasks in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable environment for a longer period of time: situations much like those found on Mt. Rainier and other alpine objectives around the world.
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Solveig Waterfall is an AMGA Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide and has been working professionally in the mountains for 12 years. She guides in Alaska as well as the continental U.S., Ecuador, Mexico, and Argentina.  She also teaches backcountry skiing programs and ski mountaineering courses for RMI. Outside of guiding, she instructs yoga and fitness classes designed to complement an active life outdoors.
Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Beautiful article!  You inspire me.

Posted by: Patti sandow on 10/12/2017 at 9:11 pm

This just makes my heart smile.  Atta girl Solveig.

Posted by: anne keller on 10/11/2017 at 6:24 pm


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Team Ascends to the Climbers Hut on Ixtaccihuatl

Hola amigos!

We are checking in from 13,100 on Ixta, reporting light rain and overcast skies, but with loads of optimism for clear skies tomorrow for our hike to high camp at 15,000 feet!
Today was spent in preparation for our ascent of Ixta, which included a stop in the town of Amecameca, which was devoid of tourism and gave us a wonderful insight into authentic Mexican culture. After stocking up on water and last minuet supplies we drove to the park entrance where we stretched our legs with a walk to our abode for the evening. The rest of the evening was spent packing and eating a delicious meal prepared by our wonderful host Rogelio. The meal was a delicious concoction of beef, rice, guacamole and beans.
We will wake tomorrow and start our way up the trail to Ixta high camp!

Buenas noches from RMI Guides Christina, JT and the rest of the Mexican volcanoes team!

On The Map

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Mexico Volcanoes: Team Takes Acclimatization Hike on La Malinche

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hey this is Christina in Mexico with a blog post:
Some of our team, our world champion boxer, Patty, summited La Malinche today!  The rest of us had a truly great day and got in a big acclimatization hike up to 13,400 feet.  The best part of the day was that everyone felt great and was so happy to be hiking up way above the Mexican countryside.  The climb took us up through the green forests and to the summit ridge where we watched thunderheads roll across the land below.  We can back down in a whirlwind of conversations and laughter to hot showers and a sizzling dinner.  Everyone is looking forward to Ixtaccihuatl.

RMI Guide Christina Dale

On The Map

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Mexico’s Volcanoes: Day 1 - Team Meets in Mexico City

Hola!
The team convened this evening at the lovely Hotel Geneve in the Zona Rosa region of Mexico City. To everyone’s relief the earthquake damage proved to be minimal in this area of the city, and hopefully that continues to be the trend for the entirety of the trip. The team met each other for the first time in the lobby of the hotel, whilst seated in high backed lounge chairs, surrounded by paintings and towering bookshelves which made for a rather regal setting to begin our Mexican adventure.
After meeting the team and going over a brief synopsis of the days to come, we took a short walk through the Zona Rosa to a lively establishment that served authentic Mexican food, tasty margaritas, as well as a full mariachi band. Although we were not able to sing along to the tunes with the rest of the patrons, I am sure we enjoyed the food just as much as the locals sharing the restaurant with us.
Tomorrow we depart Mexico City and head for the former training site of the Mexican Olympic team, La Malinche, and begin our acclimatization with a trip up the extinct volcanoe.

Buenas noches,

RMI Guides Christina Dale, JT Schmitt and the rest of the RMI Mexican Volcanoes team!

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck I’m praying for good weather for you! Be safe.
Team leader- team gramma neenee

Posted by: Ellen Smith Eaton on 10/9/2017 at 7:26 am

Yeah team! Good luck with weather, enjoy the challenge and have fun! Xtina and JT top notch! Special regards to Craig FLKHGN.

Posted by: Elias on 10/8/2017 at 6:06 pm


Mt. Rainier: Four Day Summit Climb Turns at 11,700’

The Four Day Summit Climb September 29 - 2 October, 2017 turned at 11,700’ due to unstable snow conditions.  RMI Guides Tyler Jones and Mike King led the last summit climb program of the 2017 season.  The group plans to descend from Camp Muir this morning and return to Rainier BaseCamp around noon.

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Been thinking about y’all safety glad to hear everyone is safe so proud of you Hinan Ahmed for attempting such a amazing climb until next time MT. Rainier

                                                      See You Soon
                                                            Hinan


                                                        Love Carmen

Posted by: Carmen on 10/2/2017 at 9:11 am


Mt. Rainier: October 1st - Team Reached 11,700’

The Four Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guides Elias de Andres Martos and Christina Dale reached 11,700’ before having to turn due to unconsolidated snow conditions.  The team is currently at Camp Muir and will be descending for Paradise soon.

Congratulations to today’s team!

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Mt. Rainier: Four Day Summit Climb Turns at 11,400’

The Four Day Summit Climb September 27 - 30, 2017 was unable to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier today due to weather and route conditions.  RMI Guides Casey Grom & Chase Nelson led the teams to 11,400’ before deciding to turn around.  The teams will return to Rainier BaseCamp this afternoon.

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

What a fantastic experience.. can’t wait to see the photos and hear the stories! Cheers to Muzzy and the “devil’s cut”.  Thanks for keeping the group safe!

Posted by: Stacey on 9/30/2017 at 4:43 pm

It’s the journey,  not the destination that counts!!! Better safe than sorry!

Posted by: Sophia on 9/30/2017 at 11:46 am


Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Finish Safari and Depart for Home

Well we didn’t beat yesterday for game-viewing, but nobody seemed to mind giving it a try today.  It was great to wake up in Tarangire National Park and get started in the cool of the day with the place to ourselves.  We went down to the edge of a gigantic marsh (a mostly dry marsh at the moment -the rains will come soon) and cruised for cats.  We did see a gigantic lioness hanging out peacefully in the branches of a tree -guarding here recent kill, but not much other action.  Just animals and herds sprinkled about as far as the eye could see.  At midday we left the park and headed toward Arusha, stopping at the cultural center for some culture and keepsakes.  Back at Arumeru River Lodge by three, we thanked Juma and Edson and told them we’d see them on our next Safari.  Then it was time for repacking and gearing up for international flight.  One more great team dinner and we boarded the bus, saying goodbye to the hotel staff and to several of our team who have different flight schedules.  Back now to lines and security and insecurity and schedules… but we’ll have the morning out in a beautiful place to sustain us.  It has been a wonderful adventure, thank you for keeping track of us. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team in Awe at Tarangire National Park

Tarangire delivers!  Hard not to finish this day by pronouncing ourselves lucky in the extreme.  We saw things today… and then we saw more things… and more and more things.  At first, we just did a little touristing when we left the Plantation Lodge, hitting a souvenir/art shop and then visiting a Maasai Village.  This definitely interested us and is not to be minimized, but then we got into Tarangire National Park and began being mesmerized and amazed.  Things built up slowly.  First there was the watering hole with a flood of zebra and wildebeest charging in for a drink.  Then there were the dozens upon dozens of elephants we watched digging for water.  (The proclamation was made -prematurely- that it was the day of the elephant) then there was a landscape where every single tree had a giraffe, eland, waterbuck, impala or warthog under it… for miles.  But then there were the cheetahs.  Mom and cub, majestic and regal in their fur coats.  And then there were the lions.  At first there were a handful from a distance… then more of them, walking away.  Then a meeting of male and females and cubs in the distance.  Then we investigated to find thirteen cats of all sizes going to work on a freshly killed zebra.  The sights and sounds were stunning.  Better than any TV documentary.  Our cameras kept clicking and clicking as the sunlight got golden.  But we’d each put the electronics down to just stare in awe as well.
A short time later, we were sipping pre-dinner cocktails at beautiful Balloon Camp when our driver/naturalists walked in.  Juma and Edson got spontaneous and sustained round of applause. 
The day couldn’t be topped… but it could be savored.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team See an Abundance of Animals at Ngorongoro Crater

We were up early for this big day of the Safari, leaving our comfy hotel at 7 AM to get over to Ngorongoro Crater.  Our Landcruisers clawed their way up the rough dirt road to the crater rim and then we bounced our way around the circle until another dirt track took us down into the collapsed caldera.  Right off, we began seeing wildlife in great numbers and in close proximity.  Before long we were quite used to ostriches and great herds of wildebeest and Cape Buffalo.  We saw a pack of perhaps 20 hyena, barking eerily and crunching the bones of some freshly departed big animal.  We got way closer than we ever imagined was possible to a couple of lionesses and a big male who decided the road would do just fine for napping.  We saw (and got a whiff of) several dozen hippos, wallowing in various ponds.  There were secretary birds and kori bustards, fish eagles and vultures.  Gazelles and zebra were everywhere.  We didn’t manage to spot rhinos, but we did see a few great bull elephants.  The day was fairly hot and sunny until a system of thunderstorms rolled by, cooling things for our afternoon tour.  Then Edson and Juma skillfully brought the cruisers back down the rough roads to our hotel for a relaxing evening at the Plantation Lodge.  Suffice to say that we were blown away by our day inside a volcano.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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