A Brief History
Founder Todd Burleson has traveled the globe incessantly (from 8 Everest expeditions and the 7 summits, to Greenland, Mongolia and Iran) not only for his love of guiding but his never-ending pursuit of perfecting the Alpine Ascents approach. In 1986 there wasn't much of a business model for international guiding, but making a living at something you love has its merits. While Todd's proficiency in climbing was well regarded, he had a propensity for not only guiding and teaching, but looking at mountains as to how they might be successfully and safely guided (routes, camps, guide ratios, supplies and itineraries). From our early successes on Himalayan Peaks, this approach soon took hold on mountains around the world.
Willi Prittie joined on with Todd and added his relentless pursuit of perfection and joy of the mountains to the zeitgeist of Alpine Ascents. This unique combination snowballed into some of the finest logistics, training and guiding in the industry.
With this recipe, Todd and Willi began sculpting a reputation - as a climber's outfitter. This included Willi maniacally developing the Alpine Ascents Mountaineering School, with the theme that any graduate should possess enough safety skills to call themselves a climber. Enter Gordon Janow who brought his eclectic background of writing, business and many years of traveling through Asia to galvanize Alpine Ascents as a business and mind set. This led to other strategic and opportune partnerships with old climbing friends such as Vernon Tejas, Peter Athans, and Jose Luis Peralvo, as well as recruiting, developing and training a host of younger guides that eventually became the core of the Alpine Ascents guiding staff. The office staff, not to be outdone, put the expertise of Matt Lepisto and Kristine Kitayama, followed later by Brent LaDoux, Alayna Cullen and most recently Ellen Cravens, Melanie Hodgman and Gary Harrington, along with Todd and Gordon to the task of organizing and creating all that manifests the visions of guides and climbers alike. Most of the original members are with us today, keeping it a jovial and enthusiastic (bordering on obsessive) team.Alpine Ascents International Today
Alpine Ascents International leads expeditions that have become benchmarks of quality in the climbing community and operates what we believe is the finest mountaineering school in the country. This expertise is based upon years of accumulated experience, not just from individual mountain guides, but through experience on particular mountains where details are fine-tuned over time. We maintain our ongoing process of multi-leveled and critical evaluation for each expedition. Innovations like daily weather reports, established season-long base camps, environmental pioneering, and operating our trips with small climber-to-guide ratios led by Alpine Ascents guides are just some of the factors that keep us in the forefront.
Our guides are the primary reason that Alpine Ascents has built such a unique reputation. Many of our guides have been with us for most of their careers and have had the opportunity to participate in a wealth of climbs and programs. Our guides are generally not seasonal employees, who teach a few courses and head back to "other lives", but are dedicated and committed to a life of climbing.
Along with these elements, our commitment to the environment and ethical global business practices make Alpine Ascents the most respected and well-rounded mountain guiding company in the industry. Alpine Ascents is proud to be one of a small minority of companies authorized to guide on Denali, Mt. Rainier and throughout Washington's Cascades.Program Philosophy ~ Mission Statement
Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally-conscious mountaineers and offering courses and expeditions of unsurpassed quality throughout the world. Our business practices stress ethical and culturally aware travel.
Alpine Ascents is one of the few outfitters to be fully accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association The AMGA accreditation process generally focuses on instruction and reviews areas such as operating guidelines, permits, business practices and guides training. "Accreditation provides a consistent and meaningful standard by which to judge the reliability and professionalism of a climbing service. It informs the general public that all guides in the program have received formal training appropriate to the terrain they guide."
Our safety record stands as the finest in the guiding industry. This is not simply a promotional statement but a testament to our conservative nature when it comes to decision making. While mountaineering has inherent risks, route planning, camp selection, student instruction and leadership training start with a concern for the well-being of climbers. This holds true for both the mountaineering school and expedition climbing. When making decisions and organizing climbs, avoiding injury and sickness is our primary focus. At the conclusion of each program our prevention program is reviewed and updated and climber and guide recommendations are implemented as we constantly update our injury prevention program.
Mount Rainier Award
In 2006 Alpine Ascents was awarded a highly coveted guiding concession on Mt. Rainier. This prestigious honor was granted to Alpine Ascents based on our 1) Safety Record 2) Environmental Leadership 3) Quality of Services 4) Experience and qualifications of our guide staff. We are honored to have the privilege of guiding such a beautiful peak.
About Our Climbs & Mountaineering School
Our reputation began in the Himalayas and quickly spread to climbs around the globe. Today, our guides are recognized as leaders in the international climbing world and act as a resource for climbers, publishers and media organizations. The Alpine Ascents Mountaineering School is considered one of the premier climbing schools in North America. And we have been repeatedly praised and acknowledged for our expertise by a variety of media sources and industry professionals.
All Alpine Ascents expeditions are carefully prepared. This means investigating quality climbs, selecting optimum routes, supplying top quality provisions, and developing safety programs for each journey. Before departing on any expedition we provide climbers with a wealth of pre-trip information and guides are available to answer questions. We realize helping climbers achieve personal goals starts well before the climb. We make great efforts to be accessible and respond quickly to all phone calls and email inquiries. Unlike many organizations, we plan and lead our own climbs. The majority of our team members come from personal recommendations and many are repeat climbers.
Leading cohesive groups is fundamental to our philosophy. Before any member joins our team, we require background information on conditioning and a climbing/hiking biography. This helps to ascertain each climber can be a safe team member and allows our guides to galvanize the most effective groups.
The Seven Summits
The Seven Summits Company since 1986, Alpine Ascents has been guiding the highest mountain on each continent with more consistency and success than any other guide service. As of May 2008, 25 of the 64 Americans (39%) and 50 of the 198 overall (25%) to complete the seven summits have climbed with or guided for Alpine Ascents International. We have put more people (136) on the summit of Everest than any other company. Fueled by an integrated passion of travel and climbing, we feel privileged to have second homes on each continent and look forward to sharing these glorious peaks with you.
We believe that most of the guiding world is eco-friendly, but taking leadership in environmental matters can be costly and present obstacles. Pioneering the use of Wag Bags in the Cascades, offically partnering with Leave No Trace for over 10 years, removing trash from Everest, Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro are a few of the efforts that depict our spearheading of environmental causes. More than simply the right thing to do or a marketing angle, we look to keep the mountains and wilds clean because this is our second home (first home for many guides) and we want to return each year to pristine environments. Environmental Leadership is axiomatic, yesterday's ideas are simply not good enough, and we constantly challenge ourselves by asking, what's next, what more can we do, is this really helping?
Leave No Trace principles are fundamental to our program,and we encourage all who climb and trek with us to understand proper wilderness practices. We help facilitate this effort by passing on Leave No Trace training and literature to every Alpine Ascents climber.
While many companies market their eco-friendliness, we feel business ethics is a more encompassing term; a principal which we test most every decision against. While businesses are faced with many difficult decisions, we believe organizations have a responsibility towards "the greater good" of the planet and we strive to meet that goal. More than the right thing to do, ethical decisions and actions make operating a business like Alpine Ascents even more interesting and satisfying. It also helps to develop like-minded climbers who share similar values.
Whether you are attending our Mountaineering School, climbing with us to the summit of Everest, trekking in the Himalayas or climbing in Antarctica, we feel personal attention, prompt and courteous responses are of utmost importance. Gear, locations, fitness levels, in-country knowledge are crucial elements in preparing for a trip and we treat every correspondence with utmost care and consideration.
We have always felt that personal attention is an integral part of putting together team-oriented expeditions. We understand that being a premier mountaineering company is not only about offering quality services, but about helping each individual achieve their personal goals.www.AlpineAscents.com
Alpine Ascents' award winning website is where one can find up-to-the-minute information on current expeditions, staff, gear and new trips. Detailed expedition information, including itineraries, gear lists, reading lists, climber's comments, slide shows and helpful links offer folks the chance to delve deeply into what is going on in the mountaineering world. The web site is the primary resource for all things Alpine Ascents.
A benchmark in the field of cybercasts, the site provides family and friends the opportunity to follow many of our climbs, as team dispatches are regularly posted. Not only can one feel the excitement of watching a team move up and down the mountain, the archived cybercasts provide an excellent resource and learning tool for researching expeditions. Please take a few moments to immerse yourself in our cyberspace and enjoy the show!
What We Expect
Though our courses and expeditions vary in difficulty and skill level, we expect participants to have a positive attitude and be physically and mentally prepared for the demands of the journey. We take the "team effort "idea very seriously and presume each climber shares our passion for mountains, cultures and environmental issues.
Connections Abroad & How We Operate
Nearly all of our expeditions employ local climbers, porters and/or guides. These local outfitters are carefully reviewed, not only for their expertise but as long-term partners with Alpine Ascents. Though we send an Alpine Ascents guide on each expedition, local guides are an excellent resource to understanding the climbing, trekking and culture in each of the areas we visit. Many of these outfitters have been with us since inception as we believe long-term relationships help foster environmentally sound and high quality expeditions.
Climbing as Exploration
Climbers are indeed modern-day explorers with particular dreams and visions. We look to carry the rhythm of exploration by highlighting not only our climbs, treks and courses, but the overall experience of these journeys. Whether attending our mountaineering school, trekking in the Himalayas or attempting an 8000m peak, we treat each expedition as a unique exploration. We realize that every team member is an adventurer in their own right, and joins us to embrace a challenge and learn through experience. We encourage you to contact us for specific brochures and visit our website to gather additional information about each expedition.