Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Training in Talkeetna

Posted by: Leon Davis, Garrett Stevens, Bridget Belliveau | May 03, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

Hello from Talkeetna, Alaska! The RMI Alaska Mountaineering Seminar is underway here, and so far it’s nothing but blue skies, sunshine, smiles and excitement. The team all arrived yesterday in Anchorage, and despite one delayed flight we were all able to rendezvous with our shuttle and make tracks north.  A short shopping stop in Wasilla let us get all the final little treats that we’ll want to eat on the glacier for the next week or so, and then we finished the drive to this quaint little town at the end of the road.

After a good night’s rest, the team met this morning for breakfast at the fabled Roadhouse, followed by a stop at the ranger station to complete all our paperwork. We headed over to the hangar to finalize our packing and preparation, and then it was off to the races with training. Tent craft and now rope work, with the team learning a lot of new skills that we’ll use over the course of our program.

We’re scheduled to fly onto the Kahiltna Glacier this afternoon, so once we get the final weights of all our gear, we’ll suit up and head into a very different world! We’ll trade the trees and grass for snow and ice, but that’s what we’ve all come to do.

Keep it tuned in for more updates, and thanks for reading!

RMI Guides Leon Davis, Garrett Stevens, Bridget Belliveau, and the expedition team

The Alaska Seminar team learn some knot-tying skills in Talkeetna. Photo: Garrett Stevens

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Mt. Everest: Kathmandu & Beyond

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Mark Tucker | May 03, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 4,383'

Rain, thunder and lightning continued late into the Lukla night, but we all felt pretty confident that the dawn would bring perfect flying weather… Which it did.  We were up at 5 AM and over to the craziness of Lukla International Airport by 6 AM.  At around 7 or so, a twin engine prop plane came in with the right letters and numbers on its tail and we pushed our way through the crowd to catch our flight.  That flight was blissfully uneventful and by 7:30 we were just another batch of tourists in Kathmandu... Rubbernecking from our van to catch whatever signs of quake damage we could see on the way to our comfortable hotel.  A casual observer could easily go unaware of the tragedy unfolding in the country around us… things are quickly returning to “normal” for those with means in the capital.  The hotel was jam-packed with correspondents, camera crews, diplomats and a few grubby climbers.  We met a number of our guide friends -some of whom had ambitious and worthy plans to go out to remote villages to do what they could to save lives, and some of whom, just like ourselves, intended to get out of the country as soon as possible so as not to require care and feeding from an already over-stressed society.  Our team passed the afternoon resting, cleaning up, exploring and reconnecting.  I was lucky enough to connect with the legendary Miss Elizabeth Hawley for the team’s all important post-climb interview.  As expected, there wasn’t much to relate in terms of climbing goals achieved… none-the-less, we chatted for a delightful -and perhaps a bit melancholy- hour over the continuing challenges of these contemporary Everest seasons.
Back at the hotel, our team assembled for one final evening together, with a couple of toasts and a fine rooftop dinner.  We were not even remotely cold or uncomfortable, we weren’t in danger and we had a rising and beautiful full moon to entertain us.
Tomorrow we’ll scatter to ride a number of bigger and faster aircraft toward our own homes.  Thank you for following along in this challenging season.  We each feel extremely fortunate to have come unscathed through extraordinary circumstances.  To this point, we’ve had the convenience and satisfaction of placing cash directly into the hands of those who’ve suffered… from this point onward, we’ll try to match the generosity of those at home… Making considered contributions to responsible aid organizations benefiting all Nepalis.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The Everest team back in Kathmandu. Photo courtesy of Chhering Dorjee Sherpa

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  I have been riveted to your posts during this attempt.  I’m thrilled that you and your team are on your way home safely.
Thank… read more

Posted by: Lisa-Marie Allen on 5/4/2015 at 7:24 am

Glad to see your all safely on your way home. Thanks for sharing the details of the trip and allowing me to see into a fraction of the adventure. I… read more

Posted by: Andy Rodenhiser on 5/4/2015 at 6:59 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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Mt. Everest: Hahn & Team Arrive in Lukla

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Mark Tucker | May 02, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 4,383'

Another surreal day of spectacular hiking and beautiful mountain vistas… mixed with up-close and sad recognition for the cost of lost homes and disrupted lives in the Khumbu Valley.  I suppose it is surreal because we would never have chosen to be “tourists” in a disaster area… But here we are.  We left Namche at around 8 this morning under perfectly blue skies… And fervently hoping that this meant that the fixed wing planes were coming and going freely from Lukla… Dispersing the crowd we’d heard so much about.  The first part of the day was spent in the forests… Where there was little sign of the earthquake.  But the bigger portion of the day was spent in the succession of farms and small villages in the valley bottom outside the National Park boundaries.  Of course, many houses and buildings were untouched… but a significant number were cracked and damaged beyond reasonable repair.  Very few had collapsed… And we were told that there had been few injuries and few deaths in these areas… Probably because Sherpas would have been outside and working hard at midday when the quake struck.  And sure enough, the phenomenally strong work ethic in the area had men out moving rocks, plastering and repairing damage wherever possible when we strolled by.  People without any form of insurance stood in front of ruined structures, in this fabulously beautiful setting, and smiled and bid us “Namaste” as we passed.  Those that we knew, asked us first if we were all ok before acknowledging that they themselves would need to start over completely.  We walked until about 2:30 PM to reach Lukla just as the raindrops began to fall.  The town and the airstrip appear largely intact… And thankfully, the crowds (mobs…as we’d heard them described a few days ago) seem absent.  So far, so good with our plan for coming down the valley slowly so as to allow things to normalize in front of us.
One of our Sherpa team startled me today as we took tea in his sister’s place in Monjo… He thanked me for saving his life.  I was baffled and embarrassed until he explained that my decision (which had actually been made in consultation with Jeff Justman and Chhering Dorjee) to have the Sherpas drop the loads they were carrying for Camp II at Camp I on the day of the big shake had meant they weren’t in the Icefall later in the day at the exact wrong time.  As I say… I was startled… Hadn’t done the math myself.  We’d asked them not to carry on to CII because of the threat of snow and avalanches off Nuptse… Not because of imminent earthquakes.  But I’m now so incredibly glad that they were well down the icefall and safe for whatever reason.  I deserve no credit whatsoever for getting lucky… But our team can take generic credit for having put safety first, once again, and having reaped unexpected benefits.
We are “scheduled” for the first wave of flights to Kathmandu tomorrow.  Perhaps luck will still be with us.

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn

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Your team, the thoughtful decisions you make, and your sensitivity to local conditions and customs are all reasons that RMI enjoys such an enviable safety record and remains the gold… read more

Posted by: Everett Moran on 5/3/2015 at 9:08 pm

So grateful that all of you are safe and on your way home even though your goal of the summit was not to be this year.

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Posted by: Susan on 5/2/2015 at 6:19 pm

Mt. Everest: Hahn & Team in Namche Bazaar

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Mark Tucker | May 01, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 11,300'

Thankfully, it was another sparkling sun and blue sky day.  We got out of Pheriche by 8:15 AM and got walking out of the alpine zone and down into the land of the living.  Helicopters continued to buzz back and forth overhead, traveling to Everest Base or to Gorak Shep, most likely.  We encountered a few more trekkers and porters still heading up valley today, but drastically fewer than normal, which made for another quiet and easy day on the trails.  We took our time, stopping in Pangboche to check on acquaintances and to pay respects to victims, but then we moved on across the river to Deboche and up to Thyangboche, which was abnormally calm and quiet.  The classic and grand monastery was visibly damaged and seemed abandoned for the moment.  We sat and rested in the quiet for a time before heading down the big hill and into waves of blooming rhododendrons.  Then it was up the next big hill and along the dramatic traverse trail to Namche.  We saw plenty of eagles and lammergeiers, Himalayan Tahr… And lots of evidence of massive rocks having crossed the trail in the quake.  We’ve found our way back to our favorite place in Namche… Camp De Base.  Damage in Namche seems slight, but we have been reminded that the earth isn’t through moving yet.  There have been aftershocks that we apparently haven’t noticed in our tent environments.  But here in town, everybody seems much more aware of them in a place where buildings shake.

We’ll keep our guard up, but we’ll also avail ourselves of some quality 11,000 ft sleep… The kind we haven’t experienced in a month.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Everest team greeted by Nepalese child as they trek back to Namche. Photo: JJ Justman Group of children begin their day in Namche Bazaar. Photo: JJ Justman Hahn & team trekking out. Ama Dablam looming in the background. Photo: JJ Justman

On The Map

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Thanks Dave.  We met at ANI’s Union Glacier in 2011 when I ran the 100k as part of the Antarctica Ice Marathon.  Safe travels and Godspeed.

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Posted by: Brent Weigner on 5/1/2015 at 7:54 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Team Descends to Pheriche

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 30, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 13,950'

Our last night at Mt. Everest Base Camp was made more pleasant by a visit from Meagan and Rachel, the two doctors from the Himalayan Rescue Association.  We’d lured them to our dining tent with high praise for Kumar’s farewell pizza dinner.  The two were homeless, as the HRA clinic tent was wiped out by the Avalanche air blast.  We are in absolute awe of the performance of these two in managing the medical response to the Base Camp tragedy.  They were hurt themselves in the blast and lost virtually all of their personal property, but went on to care for at least 80 patients over the following day -many with critical injuries.  We all enjoyed the pizza, but felt terrible that the two docs were still prone to violent coughing from having taken in the super cooled, ice laden air of the powder cloud that accompanied the air blast. 
Kumar kept his final night tradition by baking cakes (with and without gluten) for the team.  Alas, these didn’t say “congratulations Everest summiteers” but nobody complained. 
This morning, we enjoyed a little sunshine for a change, which made it a little easier to put final touches on our packing. We were on the trail by 10 AM.  A very different trail than we’d become accustomed to… No Trekkers, no porters, no traffic.  Of course, the reason for the empty trails is sobering, but the effect is wonderful.  Nobody has put the dire national situation out of their minds, but the value of a day spent walking peaceful trails through beautiful mountains can’t be overestimated.  We stopped in both Gorak Shep and Lobuche without seeing too much damage from the quake, but things in Pheriche are obviously worse.  Many of what had seemed to be the more substantial structures in town are badly damaged.  None-the-less, we’ve found comfortable and safe lodging. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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Amazing 2 doctors. The whole thing is so devastating. Thank you for keeping us informed Dave.

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Posted by: Jacqueline Bayless on 5/1/2015 at 12:08 am

Dave, so glad you’re safe and there couldn’t be a better person up there guiding things and helping beyond what would be manageable for the rest of us.

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Posted by: Peter Gregory on 4/30/2015 at 8:51 pm

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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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

Mt. Everest Expedition: Team Readies to Depart Everest Base Camp

Posted by: JJ Justman, Dave Hahn | April 29, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

Our expedition is rapidly winding down. Everest Base Camp is becoming empty of foreign climbers (that’d be people like us).  Three of our team…HP, Hao, and Hans were able to catch a heli down toward Lukla this morning.  The rest of us have spent the day packing, sheltering from snow showers and reflecting on the surreal situation and surroundings.  We’ve each taken walks out to icy cyber, where the cell service almost works, and been stunned by the amount of heavy camp gear… Tents, barrels, tables, boots, helmets etc that are strewn hundreds of meters from base camp.  These sad items testify to the force of the blast that hit Base, fully obliterating the camps in about the middle third of the mile-long cluster of tents along the medial moraine.  Mark Tucker estimated that the blast was perhaps a hundred and fifty miles per hour (up from zero in a second or two).  We are all still a bit jumpy, although there hasn’t been a recognizable aftershock in a day or two.  It sure seems like the biggest hanging glaciers have had ample chance to relieve themselves already, but we start out the tent to see every crack and boom these days.  We’ll walk out of this place and down toward an easier and safer world tomorrow.  But plenty of uncertainty still lies ahead in this altered world.  Mostly we just expect it all to take patience, and we have that.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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You make a insignificant climber like me inspired to handle any incident on a mountain with a new perspective. You make me proud to be affiliated with RMI - so… read more

Posted by: Elsie Bemiss on 4/29/2015 at 7:57 pm

Thanks for taking time to give us an update. The base camp trek has been on my bucket list for some time. Now I’m more determined than ever to go… read more

Posted by: DK on 4/29/2015 at 7:54 pm

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.

Mt. Everest Expedition: Team to Organize Safe Retreat From the Mountain

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 28, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

We’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that Everest summit for 2015 is out of reach for our team.  Besides the rather obvious and glaring philosophical difficulties of pursuing a recreational venture in the midst of a national -and local- disaster, there are the on-the-ground mountaineering realities that will not permit us to look upward again.  We have no viable route through the Khumbu Icefall and the Earth is still shaking.  We couldn’t think of asking anyone to put themselves at the risk required for re establishing that route under such circumstances.  The effort at this advanced stage of the season would normally be focused on building a route to Camp 4 rather than to Camp 1,  nobody will be able to say when the aftershocks will end, but it will -without a doubt- be too late for fixing the upper mountain and stocking camps before the normal advance of the monsoon.
We’ll put our efforts into an organized and safe retreat from the mountain.  Nobody harbors illusions that travel in this stricken and damaged country will be simple, but we’ll head for home now in any case.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Your shining example amid tragedy for the second time in 24 months make me proud to have been associated with RMI…You help all understand how to be w-i-t-h the… read more

Posted by: Waltero Glover on 4/29/2015 at 7:32 am

Safe thoughts for the unsure journey ahead.

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Posted by: holly seaton on 4/29/2015 at 7:02 am

More Entries

Expedition Stats

Aconcagua Expedition
1/11 - 2/3/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/24 - 2/7/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/18 - 2/10/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
2/3 - 2/16/2015
Cayambe - 16,500' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/26 - 2/18/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Mexico's Volcanoes
2/14 - 2/22/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - Summit / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/8 - 3/13/2015
Mt. Rainier - 11,200'
Mexico's Volcanoes
3/7 - 3/15/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - 15,300' / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/22 - 3/27/2015
Mt. Rainier - 10,080'
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
4/12 - 4/17/2015
Mt. Rainier - 12,400'
Everest Base Camp - Island Peak
3/18 - 4/12/2015
Everest Base Camp - Summit / Island Peak - Summit
Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
3/18 - 4/7/2015
Everest Base Camp - Summit

Recent Images

  • The Alaska Seminar team learn some knot-tying skills in Talkeetna. Photo: Garrett Stevens
  • The Everest team back in Kathmandu. Photo courtesy of Chhering Dorjee Sherpa
  • Everest team greeted by Nepalese child as they trek back to Namche. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Group of children begin their day in Namche Bazaar. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Hahn & team trekking out. Ama Dablam looming in the background. Photo: JJ Justman
  • 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
  • Climbers moving through the Khumbu Icefall. Photo: RMI Collection
  • New snow on Mt. Everest, Nepal. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Tents aglow at Everest Base Camp on the eve before Camp 1 rotation. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Dave Hahn leads the Everest team on an acclimatization hike to Kala Patar. | JJ Justman
  • Ascending thru the ladders of the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa teams and guide attempt to navigate through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa and guides going through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Horseshoes at RMI Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • 2015 Sherpa World Championship Horseshoes. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Significant avalanche shown in center bottom of Annapurna photo. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna route past Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Dave Hahn joins the Sherpa in some Icefall exploration. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Winter Seminar team enjoys the sunrise on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • Sunrise on Mt. Rainier with Little Tahoma. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The Winter Seminar Team taking a rest break on Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The view of Mt. Rainier after the storm earlier this week. Photo: Brent Okita
  • RMI Climbers testing out their down suits while at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Sherpa team in their down suits at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Panorama of Base Camp with Annapurna being the left most peak.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Khumbu Icefall seen with the new snow from yesterday's storm. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Dave Hahn leading the RMI Everest team in a training session into the lower section of the Icefall. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Everest BC - Mark Tucker choosing to go with his air game. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Overnight snow covers Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Hanging out in the EBC cook tent on a snowy day. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The RMI Everest team gather for a meal in the cook tent. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Common Tent at Base Camp. RMI Photo Collection
  • Fun and Games at Base Camp on a Rest Day. RMI Photo Collection