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      • September 1, 2016
        Guide: Elías de Andrés-Martos

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Shishapangma - Tibet

Shishapangma - Tibet

With a straightforward climbing route, minimal objective hazards on the climb, and easy access to an established Base Camp, Shishapangma is an ideal first 8,000m peak!


  • Journey across the Himalayas; from the narrow streets of Kathmandu to the glaciers of Shishapangma and back over the course of one expedition.
  • Join a small and personal climbing team built around a low climber to guide and climber to Sherpa ratio, providing the flexibility and strength for a safe and enjoyable expedition.
  • Climb above 8,000 meters with the guidance and partnership of RMI’s experienced guides and Himalayan veterans.
  • Benefit from RMI’s excellent organization, support, and carefully planned and outfitted expedition: all the small advantages that add up to a more memorable experience.
  • Take part in a RMI adventure to the Himalayas and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.

Shishapangma is the 14th highest mountain in the world, and the only 8,000m peak lying solely in Tibet. Shishapangma is considered by many to be one of the most approachable 8,000m peaks to climb because of its direct route and relatively short approach to Base Camp. For a peak of this size and stature, the Northwest Ridge, our climbing route, offers a direct route to Shishapangma’s Central Summit. A knife-edge ridge connects the slightly lower Central Summit to the mountain’s South Summit at 8,013m (26,289'). This final section of the climb can prove very challenging but is the team’s ultimate goal. We travel from Kathmandu to the “Chinese Driver’s Camp” by jeep and from there a long 10-mile one-day walk with yaks brings us to the established climber’s Base Camp. We dedicate up to 28 days to the climb. 

RMI's guiding approach differs notably from many other guide services as we intentionally keep our team small. Instead of running a large expedition with many climbers, we focus our attention on leading a more personal climbing team, concentrating our resources on each individual to ensure the safest, most enjoyable, and most successful experience possible for each one of our climbers. Our expedition is fully staffed and no extras or add-ons are needed. The smaller team ratios and thoroughly organized expedition facilitates better team dynamics, closer communication, individualized attention, and helps avoid the fragmentation inherent to larger expeditions. We believe this creates the strongest, safest, and most enjoyable climbing team possible.

With over four decades of mountain guiding experience RMI has rightfully earned our standing as one of the most distinguished guide services in the world: we maintain strict standards of safety, climb with small ratios, offer an unparalleled level of service, provide you with the best and most experienced guides, and have an infrastructure that is geared entirely toward your individual safety and success in the Himalayas.


Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America's oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Denali and a leader in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our experienced guides are some of the best in the world, more than 40 of whom have reached the summit of Mt. Everest, some multiple times. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge necessary to create the best possible trips. We work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader.

In 2011 a strong team of RMI Guides, including Elías de Andrés Martos, successfully climbed Shishapangma via the Northwest Ridge without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. Their knowledge and experience serves as the foundation for your adventure. Read about the 2011 climb on the RMI Blog.


Safety has always been RMI's top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides and Sherpa focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. By purposefully staffing this expedition with a low climber to guide ratio we maintain the highest high degree of personal service from RMI's guides and Sherpa staff, increase our margin of safety on the mountain and improve your chances of success.

Our climber-to-guide ratio is 3:1, and our Sherpa-to-climber ratio is 1:1.

Our camps are stocked with comprehensive medical kits and we have two Gamow bags on the mountain throughout the expedition. Our guides and staff are highly trained in emergency mountain medicine and work to maintain our strict standards of safety. When problems arise on the mountain, away from medical facilities, the level of training and experience RMI's guides have makes them some of the most sought after guides in the profession.

Careful planning and vigilant care are taken as we venture into high altitudes. Our well-planned use of climbing oxygen dramatically improves a climber's chance of success on Shishapangma. It is expected that first-time 8,000m climbers use bottled oxygen. Personal exceptions/considerations will be addressed individually with the guides. Oxygen equipment will be carried to high camp and worn on summit bid. All oxygen will be purchased prior to the expedition.


Participants on our Shishapangma Expedition must have a solid understanding of mountaineering skills. We require that each team member have previous high altitude experience, such as Denali, Aconcagua or other 7,000 - 8,000 meter peaks. Screening and final selection will be done on an individual basis after we have reviewed your climbing resume and our Shishapangma Guides have spoken with you directly. Climbers on this adventure will be expected to be confident, competent and ready to participate in this adventure of a lifetime.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

  • Upcoming Climbs

      • September 1, 2016 Guide: Elías de Andrés-Martos
  • Price
    44 days
    Level 5
Table of Contents

Why Climb Shishapangma With RMI?

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. is one of America's most reputable and long-standing guide services with over four decades of mountain guiding experience. Simply stated, we excel at bringing climbers to the highest mountains of the world. Our commitment to leading extraordinary mountain adventures, our unparalleled logistical support, and our world-class leadership make our Shishapangma Expedition unmatched.

RMI's Approach

  • Safety is RMI's number one priority and nothing trumps its importance.


  • The most experienced and renowned guides in the profession.
  • Our guides are well-regarded climbers and mountaineering instructors. They are highly trained in technical rescue and in wilderness and mountain medicine.

Climbing Ratios

  • Small team ratios of 3:1 climber-to-guide.
  • Small team ratios facilitate stronger team dynamics, excellent communication, and individualized attention.


  • RMI is involved in every step of the planning, preparation, and packing of our expedition.
  • Our behind-the-scenes logistics are not left to others, ensuring that each and every detail of expedition planning is addressed and met.

Expedition Execution

  • Small ratios and extensive logistical support give us a high level of flexibility and the individual focus needed on the mountain, from acclimatization scheduling to individual food preferences.
  • We intentionally avoid locking our expedition into predetermined itineraries and plans, choosing instead to tailor our climb to the needs of our climbers and the realities of the mountain conditions.


  • With years of experience, our phenomenal Sherpa staff is among the most experienced and well regarded in the Himalaya. They each have dozens of Himalayan summits and offer superior attentive support for our expedition.
  • Our Sherpa pursue ongoing technical training between expeditions under internationally accredited guide training programs.
  • All of our Sherpas receive equipment stipends as well as First Ascent down suits for each expedition.

Base Camp

  • We outfit a comprehensive and comfortable Base Camp on the mountain, including heated dining tents, hot showers, communications tent with re-charging equipment, private toilets, individual sleeping tents, full-time cooks and great food, as well as a selection of entertainment and games.
  • We address all of the necessities, as well as luxuries, to keep our climbers comfortable and happy - and ultimately strong and healthy - throughout the climb.


  • Dedicated professional cooks at Base Camp who prepare excellent, healthy meals.
  • We have well-stocked inventories that include hundreds of pounds of specialty food brought from the U.S., offering excellent variety and selection.
  • A flexible and diverse menu accommodates our differing tastes and changing appetites.

On-Mountain Camps

  • Our mountain camps are well stocked with emergency supplies, and medical and rescue equipment.


  • Our guides are highly trained in medical and technical rescue and carry medical and rescue equipment with them at all times.

Weather Forecasts

  • We use a private weather forecasting service with Himalayan experience to keep us current with the latest trends and developments in weather patterns throughout the expedition.


  • All of our climbers, guides, and Sherpa are outfitted with personal radios.
  • We can help arrange personal cell phone, email, and satellite communications equipment as needed.

Expedition Dispatches

  • RMI posts daily expedition updates to our blog, including photos and audio dispatches, to help keep friends, family, and general followers up-to-date with the latest progress of the climb.

Environmental Impact

  • RMI has pioneered and championed Leave No Trace ethics on mountains all around the world and we hold ourselves to the same high standards on Shishapangma.
  • We remove excess packaging before the trip to minimize waste and carry all of our trash and unused supplies off of the mountain.
  • We use biodegradable bags to ensure proper human waste disposal.
  • Our custom-built solar photovoltaic power system supplies 100% of our electric needs. We have not used the standard noisy generator on our HImalayan expeditions in over two years!
  • Our efforts keep camps clean and quiet, reduce our use of fossil fuels, and minimize our overall environmental impact.
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Day 1


Most climbers fly to Kathmandu (KTM) via Thailand or Korea with a possible overnight in Bangkok or Seoul. During your flight you will cross the International Date Line and travel time is approximately three days.


Day 2




Day 3

KATHMANDU  •  4,383'

Arrive in Kathmandu. We are transferred to our hotel for some rest and recovery before our evening reception and welcome dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu. (D)


Day 4

KATHMANDU  •  4,383'

Situated in a bowl-shaped valley in central Nepal, Kathmandu is the largest city in Nepal and the cosmopolitan heart of the Himalayan Region. Today the itinerary focuses on a thorough team meeting / orientation and equipment check, fitting for oxygen masks, and any other last-minute preparations.The rest of the day is spent enjoying the city and local cuisine. Overnight in Kathmandu. (B)


Day 5

ZHANGMU • 7,544'

Leaving Kathmandu, we travel the Friendship Highway towards Tibet. We reach the Chinese-Nepali border which we cross on foot via the Friendship Bridge. Once in the Chinese town of Zhangmu, we check in at our hotel for the day. (B, L, D)


Day 6

NYALAM  • 12,460'

We drive across the spectacular Nyalam Thongla Pass and through the Nyalam Gorge, into the town of Nyalam. In Nyalam we see the first displays of typical Tibetan buildings and attire. (B, L, D)


Day 7

NYALAM  • 12,460'

Today we spend our time acclimatizing in Nyalam after this big jump in elevation. A short hike in the nearby hills helps us in the process and provides the first view of the higher Himalayan mountains. (B, L, D)


Day 8


After an early wake-up in Nyalam, we jump into the vehicles for the last time on our way to the trailhead at "Chinese Driver's Camp." (This is the furthest point that the vehicles from the 1964 Chinese expedition made it). These idyllic meadows on the Tibetan Plateau serve as our camp for the next few days as we continue to acclimatize and sort out our gear to be carried to Base Camp by the yaks. (B, L, D)


Day 9 & 10


Driver's Camp to Base Camp requires a 10-mile hike. While not steep (gaining only 2,000' over that distance), it takes the majority of the day. The views of Shishapangma from Base Camp are astonishing. Upon arrival to camp, we pitch and move into our tents and establish what will be home for nearly the next month. (B, L, D)




Once at Shishapangma Base Camp the itinerary can vary greatly; this is only an outline of the expedition’s movements. If weather and conditions allow for all team members to summit earlier, then the program schedule will be moved accordingly. We are permitted a total of 28 days on the mountain.


Day 12 until Completion


Once at Base Camp, we rest for a few days and allow our bodies to adapt to life at 18,400’. Using nearby terrain, we review our climbing techniques, becoming comfortable and proficient on steep terrain and fixed lines. Shortly after our arrival, we take part in our Puja Ceremony, a deeply meaningful and solemn Buddhist ceremony led by a local lama before the start of any climbing expedition.

With our bodies acclimatizing to Base Camp, our Puja ceremony completed, and our training accomplished, we begin our acclimatization rounds on the mountain. Over the next weeks we slowly work our way up the mountain, acclimatizing to higher and higher elevations and becoming stronger at altitude and familiar and comfortable with the terrain. Above Advanced Base Camp (ABC, 19,500') we establish three camps. Camp 1 (20'990) is at the top of a long snow slope, which is accessed by crossing an intricate field of seracs. We follow a gentle slope which steepens on its second half to take us to Camp 2 (22,650'). At Camp 2 we can contemplate the summit, and the beautiful sorrounding mountains, like Pola Gangchen and Porong Ri. The ascent to reach Camp 3 (24,250') starts out crossing a relatively long flat section under Shishapangma's North Face. At the end of this snow plateau, we encounter the steep headwall under the Northwest ridge where and establish Camp 3 at the base. Summit day consists of climbing intermediate snow slopes, only interrupted periodic by small rock outcropings.

Once at the Central Summit (8,007m/26,270') we use our best judgment to address the crossing to the South Summit (8,013m/26,289'), a typically corniced knife-edge ridge that poses the most difficult part of the climb.

The number of days this takes our team varies due to weather, acclimatization, team strength, the number of caches we make, and other such circumstances. Our guides use their vast mountain experience, knowledge, and decision-making abilities to maximize each climber's chance of reaching the summit of Shishapangma.



NYALAM • 12,460'

We make the descent from Base Camp back to Driver's Camp, marveling at the riot of green that we find after so many days at high altitudes. Upon arrival back at Driver´s Camp, we unload the yaks and transfer to the waiting vehicles, to make the drive back to Nyalam for a well deserved hot shower and night of sleep in a bed. (B, L, D)



KATHMANDU  •  4,383’

We descend the Friendship Highway on our way back to the border. After crossing into Nepal, we are expected back in Kathmandu by dinner time. (B)



KATHMANDU  •  4,383’





Depart Kathmandu. Most climbers and trekkers fly from Kathmandu to Bangkok or Seoul and then onto the United States. An overnight in Bangkok or Seoul is standard for most flights.




Flight: Arrive home.

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Travel Consultant

RMI has partnered with Pirjo DeHart to provide comprehensive travel support to Punta Arenas. As a Travel agent for CTT Destinations, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe. Pirjo has worked with Vinson Massif climbers for many years and understands the travel needs of this program. Please call (425) 831-0367 or email Pirjo.DeHart@CTTDestinations.com.

Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation

Due to the remote nature of this program, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Additionally, we encourage participants to consider travel insurance and a security evacuation policy.

Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. For this reason, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Travel insurance providers typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.

We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.

Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.

*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.

Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.

For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.

AIG Travel Guard

Pirjo DeHart

Global Rescue

Travel Advisories / Warnings

Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the U.S. Department of State.

Getting There

During your flight to Kathmandu (KTM) you will cross the International Date Line. Travel time is approximately three days. If you want to see the mountains as you fly into Kathmandu, make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the plane.

Entry Requirements

A valid passport is required for entering Nepal and for entering Tibet. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected date of return. U.S. passport holders can stay up to 90 days without special visas.

We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.


Nepal: All foreigners (except Indian Nationals) require visas, which can be obtained in advance or upon arrival with one passport photo and payment in cash (U.S. Dollars).

Tibet: All arrangements for our Tibet visas will be made in Kathmandu. The cost of the Tibet visa is included in the price of your program.

Airport Arrival

Upon arrival at the Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport (KTM), follow signs to the Arrivals Building. Proceed to the visa counter for Visitors without a Visa. The debarkation and visa application forms you need are available both on your incoming flight as well as in the arrivals building. You will need one passport photo for your visa application.

Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. Be sure to keep all your bags together.

Outside the arrivals hall there will be a large group of taxi drivers and agents from many hotels and travel companies. Look for a sign with the name Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. A private vehicle will take us to our hotel.

In-Country Transportation

The provided transportation as stated in the itinerary is via authorized taxi or private vehicle.

Immunizations & Travel Medicine

For the most updated information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

Traveler's Health

Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.

  • Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
  • Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe excess moisture from drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
  • Food - If it is cooked, boiled or can be peeled, you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.

Medical Emergencies

Excellent care for minor illnesses and injuries is readily available. In the event of more serious illnesses or injuries, we recommend transport to any of the Level 1 care centers in Kathmandu.

Nepal Country Facts

Nepal is one of the world's richest countries in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation. The country is roughly 497 miles long and 124 miles wide, with an area of 56,827 square miles. The collision between the Indian subcontinent and the Eurasian continent produced the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Nepal lies completely within this collision zone, occupying the central sector of the Himalayan arc, nearly one third of the 1,500 mile-long Himalayan Mountains.

The first civilizations in Nepal, which flourished around the 6th century B.C., were confined to the fertile Kathmandu Valley where the present-day capital is located. It was in this region that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born c. 563 B.C.

Nepali rulers' early patronage of Buddhism largely gave way to Hinduism, reflecting the increased influence of India, around the 12th century. Nepal is now primarily a Hindu country, with more than 80% of the population adhering to that faith.

Until the Kingdom of Nepal became the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in May 2008, it had been ruled in relative isolation by monarchs or a ruling family for most of its modern history. Nepal is now home to nearly 29,000,000 people. The population is primarily rural. Kathmandu, the largest city, has less than 1 million inhabitants.

Tibet Facts

Tibet is bound by the high Himalayan Mountains at its south and is predominantly high plateau (between 13,000 and 16,400 feet) resulting in its nickname “the roof of the world.” Because of its harsh mountainous and geographical features, Tibet is the least populated province in China, currently with approximately three million people.

Tibet is an internationally recognized autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China, though many Tibetans dispute the legitimacy of China’s rule. Officially, China refers to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). However, the TAR only comprises a small part of the area included in traditional Tibet.

Tibet is the source of five of Asia’s largest rivers, providing water for over one billion people. They are the Mekong, the Salween, the Yangtze, the Tsangpo and the Yellow River. Tibet is known as the world’s “Third Pole” as, after the North and South Poles, it holds the largest quantity of glacially stored water.


Nepal: Nepal’s lowlands have two seasons: the dry season and the monsoon. The higher mountains have a cold winter as well. The dry season runs from October to May and the wet (monsoon) season from June to September. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) ring nearly perfect weather and are definitely the best times for trekking and climbing.

Tibet: In general, Tibet experiences lower temperatures due to its higher altitudes. The annual monsoon runs from July through September, with July and August bring half of Tibet’s annual rainfall. Our climb takes advantage of what are generally considered the best weather, road and mountain conditions of the year. Temperatures on the Tibetan Plateau generally drop below freezing, even during the days; rainfall, however, is negligible during these months.

Cultural Etiquette

Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Except at swimming areas, it is generally considered offensive for a man to take off his shirt in public and, equally, women should be conservatively covered.

When eating, you should only use your right hand. This practice extends to passing food containers and plates with your right hand only.

A person’s head is considered the most revered/spiritual part of the body and therefore it is important that you do not make any kind of physical contact with it. This means that it is unacceptable for you to pat a child on the head.

Don’t take photos of people without permission. Most monasteries are off limits for interior photographs, or perhaps a small fee is required.

"Namaste" is perhaps the most important phrase you should learn when visiting Nepal. It is a greeting that means "salutations to you" or "I bless the divine in you." It is said while at the same time pressing your two hands together palm to palm in front of your chest.

Nepal has a huge population of beggars. Some are professionals. Others are genuine. The number of street children in Kathmandu can be heartbreaking. Giving money or sealed food to them, however, is also not recommended. To keep from being hassled, a polite but firm "No” is generally sufficient.


Electricity in Nepal and Tibet normally comes as 220 Volts/50 cycles (Hz). It is advisable to carry voltage converters and plug adaptors with you while traveling. Voltage converters and plug adaptors are easily accessible at shopping malls in the cities of Nepal and the U.S.


Nepal: The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). In Nepal you are almost always required to pay for goods or services with the Nepalese Rupee. It is recommended that you change only as much money as you think you may spend as local currencies cannot be removed from the country or reconverted easily. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.

We suggest bringing $700 - $800 total for personal spending money and the Mountain Staff Tip Pool. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and agencies. You will find a large number of ATMs in Kathmandu and using ATMs is an easy method for obtaining cash.

Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.

Tibet: The official currency of Tibet is the China Yuan Renminbi (CNY). Your guides can help you exchange your U.S. Dollars for CNY as needed.


Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard. Restaurants and hotels add a 10% service fee to bills in which case no further tip is required. It is customary to tip guides and porters on treks and climbs. Elsewhere it is not customary to tip, but gratuities are always appreciated.

Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the trek. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.

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This expedition is open to individuals in excellent physical condition who have a solid understanding of mountaineering skills. Additionally, we require that each team member have previous high altitude experience.

This trip is open to individuals who possess:

  • Excellent physical fitness
  • Previous experience at altitude (Denali, Aconcagua, or other 7,000 or 8,000 meter peaks).
  • Formal mountaineering skills training with competency and proficiency with the following skills:
  • Crampon use
  • Team rope travel skills
  • Knots & slings - prussik, butterfly, Münter, etc.
  • Snow and ice anchors
  • Belaying
  • Crevasse rescue (from both the victim and rescuer perspectives)
  • Fixed line travel with mechanical ascenders
  • Ice axe self and team arrest, with and without a backpack
  • Snow camp construction

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

Physical Fitness Training

Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.

  • Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
  • Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
  • Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.

For Shishapangma, you are preparing for:

  • Steep climbing with a 40-50 lb load
  • A 10-12+ hour summit day
  • Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility

Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!

Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.


The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.

Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.

Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.

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What You’ll Need

The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items.

  • RMI Climbers Get 10% Off
    All New Equipment At
    Whittaker Mountaineering

Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb

Equipment List

    • ICE AXE

      The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


      The 12-point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot.


      A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


      For traveling on fixed ropes. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.


      You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.


      Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.

    • Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.


      Medium weight insulated gloves for climbing and working around camp. These should be both durable and dexterous enough to allow you to perform activities like setting up or taking down tents while wearing them.

    • We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

    • We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


      A new breed of composite boot like the Millet Everest or an expedition-style plastic double boot in combination with a full overboot is mandatory. Price is the best indicator. Though expensive, the function of footwear is of crucial importance. Select a brand's "top of the line" model and it should be sufficient. The boot needs to be roomy enough to allow for good circulation. Anticipate a sock combination when sizing them (single sock, liner and sock, or two heavy socks on each foot). Wear the boots as often as possible before the climb, to determine proper fit, comfort and performance. It is recommended that you keep your boots in your carry-on luggage for all of your commercial flights in case your luggage is mis-directed.


      These are not necessary with all-in-one boot / gaiter models. Expedition overboots add significant warmth, especially at high altitude and need to be compatible with the style of crampons used.


      We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • MEALS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


      Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.


      Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.

    • 4 - 5 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE)

      We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.


      For avalanche transceiver.


      For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.

    • CAMERA
    • SHORTS
    • SHIRTS

      For hotel dinners and while traveling.


      Pee bottle should be 1 to 1 1/2 quart size.


      Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.


      Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.

    • TYLENOL #3

      Tylenol 3 for pain


      For Altitude Illness

    • iPOD

      A small solar panel is a great way to charge your iPod or camera.


      Valid for six months beyond your return date.


      The first two pages of your passport.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following group equipment and technical hardware for your climb: tents, upper mountain community sleeping bags and pads, stoves and cooking equipment, climbing and fixed ropes, climbing anchors, shovels, route wands, radios for on-mountain communication, and comprehensive first aid and repair kits. Two bottles of climbing oxygen will be provided. Additional bottles are available upon request.

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All meals and an assortment of snacks are provided during the expedition. The value of careful planning cannot be overstated for a high altitude expedition and we work diligently to keep our climbers fit and content.


While the food in the mountains is excellent, it is nice to bring along a few of your favorite snacks and drink mixes to enjoy after a long day. We recommend that climbers bring 10 - 12 lbs. of their absolute favorite snacks and comfort foods to have throughout the expedition as a supplement to the foods that we provide.

You will want to have a few snack items with you everyday to fuel you up the trail. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner!

The importance of having snacks and lunch foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.

Recommended snack items: dry salami, smoked salmon, Jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, Sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Breakfasts consist of most typical choices. Eggs, toast, hash browns, corn flakes, muesli, oatmeal, pancakes and the local specialties of chapatti and Tibetan bread are all common menu items. Breakfast is accompanied by juice, coffee, tea, cocoa and other hot drinks.

Lunch and dinner options include a variety of choices. Soups (commonly tomato, vegetable, noodle, or hearty "sherpa stew") are excellent starters. Main courses like chicken and yak dishes, pastas, pizzas, and even fries are served alongside vegetable fried rice or noodles. Be sure to save room for a dessert such as apple pie, chocolate cake, or "snickers pie"!

On the mountain, similar meals are served. Lunches and dinners include several courses, beginning with soup and ending with dessert.

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Deposit Payments: A deposit payment of $3,500 per person secures your reservation. Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, check, or wire transfer.

Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 120 days prior to the start of your program, and we will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your balance payment is not received within 120 days of the program, your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 120 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation. Please note that balance payments may be made via check, e-check or wire transfer only.


Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, there will be no refunds for cancellations.

Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.

Land Cost


  • RMI Leadership
  • Transportation to and from the airport in Kathmandu
  • Visas, permits, and administration required for entrance into Tibet
  • All group camping supplies such as mountain tents, stoves, fuel, cooking tent, dining tent, shower tent and storage tent.
  • All meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Hotel accommodations as stated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
  • Park fees and climbing permit fees
  • Liaison and Sirdar officers
  • Sherpa support
  • Camp staff and cooking staff
  • Radio communications, including hand held radio for each team member
  • Power supply at Base Camp
  • Porter support
  • Yak support
  • Portable hyperbaric chambers, emergency medical oxygen
  • Climbing oxygen and Top Out Mask
  • A single tent at Base Camp with a foam trekking mattress
  • High-altitude camp equipment and supplies, and Sherpa support on summit day
  • Climbing Sherpa will establish camps, carry group equipment (including sleeping bags and pads), establish the route, etc.
  • Weather forecasting


  • International round-trip air fare and travel expenses to/from Kathmandu
  • Accommodations and meals in Kathmandu not included in itinerary
  • Medical Evacuation insurance of $500,000 (required)
  • Travel insurance and security evacuation insurance
  • Personal clothing and equipment
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Airport taxes and Nepal entry visas and re-entry fees
  • Mountain Staff Tip Pool (we recommend that each climber contribute $500).
  • Tips for RMI Guides
  • Rescue costs or costs associated with early departure from the expedition
  • Personal communications expenses (Satellite phone, phone, fax, email)
  • Personal expenses, room charges and laundry
  • Personal drinks and beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Nepal Custom Duties / Chinese Custom Duties
  • Additional personal Sherpa support is available, but must be arranged before the expedition.
  • Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
  • The cost of delays due to weather, road or trail conditions, flight delays, government intervention, illness, medical issues hospitalization, evacuation costs (by helicopter or any other means), or any other contingency which we or our agents cannot control are not included.

* Accommodations are based on double occupancy.  A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. reserves the right to modify the land cost of a trip at any time before departure.

Risk Management

Managing risk is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them.

Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.

Climber Responsibilities

Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:

  • is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber’s own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
  • honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.

Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions

RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.

  • Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
  • Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
  • Ages 18 & above: No restrictions 

An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.

Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.

Under-aged participants on Private Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.

Summit Attempt

RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

General Policies

Any Participant under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the trip by a parent or legal guardian and both the Participant and parent or legal guardian must sign all forms.

RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.

We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).

If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.

RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.

The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.

RMI recommends and strongly advises that the Participant have or purchase personal life, medical, accident, travel, baggage, trip cancellation, and other insurance that may pertain to participation in the program. The Participant understands that RMI provides no such insurance coverage in connection with the trip.

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