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Testimonial for Mount Vinson

Yes, I very much enjoyed the expedition. We enjoyed a fantastic weather that made everything easy. I would say this trip was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Obviously, Vern is a wealth of experience and knowledge and historical context, given how long he has been in the business. Ben is also very, very good guide. Both exhibited strong leadership skills. They were diligent and granular in their approach, but at the same time explaining the context and ramification of decisions and routs. Very good.

Both of them have a strong ability to articulate how things should be done and why. They were always calm and clearly managed to focus on the main issues and skip the minor things that don’t matter. Their cooking was excellent as well 🙂

The participants were strong. Guidance was good. Nothing in particular comes to mind. You can be proud of your services and staff.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Mount Vinson

Yes, definitely.  Antarctica is basically another planet and so much has to go right to make this expedition a reality… weather, logistics, unforeseen circumstances.  Aside from some very late luggage, this expedition went flawlessly.  Alpine Ascents has considered every single detail and executed the trip beautifully.

I took the 6-day Baker course to fill some gaps in my mountaineering skills (knots, rope team travel, crevasse rescue).  Something about the way Vern taught/explained these skills made everything just click in ways they hadn’t before.  Ben is so experienced and personable that I could definitely see him guiding me up Everest.

Strengths would be the overall organization and availability of staff to answer all questions.  I felt like this trip was well organized and which makes me very likely to choose Alpine Ascents for future expeditions.  Also, Vern and Ben are obviously some of your best guides.  I appreciated having them for this expedition.  I’d be hard pressed to come up with any weaknesses.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Aconcagua

I loved it. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. (My guides) were excellent, professional, and fun. World-class. They were cool as all get out. Strengths were the organization.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Mount Vinson

Yes, very enjoyable. Very quick replies on emails. Very good website

2018 Climber

Testimonial for The Matterhorn

I can’t say enough positive things about my experience. We did not get to summit (weather conditions prevented us from attempting it) but I consider the trip a great success.
Most important to my feeling the trip was a success is Jonathon Spitzer. He has the right blend of leadership, knowledge, encouragement, and a sense of humor that made the trip a learning experience and alot of fun. Jonathon is obviously an accomplished mountaineer but, in addition, he knows so much about the mountaineering culture in Zermatt that I felt very much at ease traveling around those areas with him and the other guides. The hut culture is also something I had no awareness of, and Jonathon, with his unique blend of seriousness and humor, taught us about this.

The other two guides, Eric and Dylan, were also top notch. And I felt a genuine camaraderie among the three of them which made the trip all that much more enjoyable. All of us on the trip had many questions and any of the guides would be able to give us very thoughtful answers; and if their opinions deviated, they would explain why. From gear, to food, to weather reports, to particulars with Zermatt guides….any question. Plus, they are all very encouraging and offer suggestions to problems and provide distractions when the going gets tough. They are all great conversationalists — there is, after all, a lot of time spent together hiking and talking. It was a true pleasure to climb with any three of them.

I had no misgivings about doing what any three of the guides told me to do. They are not arrogant or preachy. Just very sincere in sharing their deep knowledge of the mountain and the culture around the mountain. It is very evident that all of the guides are really pulling for us to summit. The fact that weather shut down our attempts seemed to be a disappointment for them, not just us. But safety first! None of us ever doubted any of the guides’ decisions.

The prep in advance of attempting the Matterhorn was rigorous but made sense and built confidence. There is no way to know what the Matterhorn will be like but our various climbs and especially the Weissmies summit simulated it as much as possible. The scenery was spectacular, too, and we got to sample a bit of what is available in the Alps. We ended the trip with the Gorner Gorge via ferrata which was amazing and a great way to do something fun and easy off of the Matterhorn.

I have written a lot about the climb but prior to the climb, I have to praise Jonathon for being so on-the-ball and responsive. Really remarkable how quickly he answers on email and how thorough his responses are.

Which leads me to comment on the logistics of the trip…all very well handled and carefully thought through. From early check-ins, to showers before heading to the airport, to having time to buy snacks before the climb….all handled exceptionally. And Jonathon was very flexible to make changes in plans if needed. The huts are terrific. The hotel in Zermatt was good — the rooms are a bit small with the big duffel bags I had but very clean and serviceable and the staff were friendly and accommodating. The guides are 100% spot on regarding gear and clothing and snacks. Do not deviate from the recommended packing list! And if Jonathon says 10 snacks, get 10 snacks. Seriously.

On the topic of gear and clothing, Matt Miller was extremely helpful in picking out gear and telling me what features were important and why. Matt answered all of my questions thoroughly and quickly, and he was really great about swapping out a pair of gloves right before I left for the Matterhorn. It is very helpful to have the gear department know exactly what the guides require and why.

My final comment will hopefully illustrate how highly I thought of Jonathon and the rest of the guiding team and of Matt Miller and of Alpine Ascents in general (shout out to Chris Thalman). From my experience on the Matterhorn trip, I think Alpine Ascents is represented by serious professionals who know what they’re doing, take no risks, and have fun all at the same time. I can’t imagine climbing a mountain with any other professional guiding company. In fact, I am returning to Matterhorn in July 2018 on a private guided trip this time. Hopefully to summit but I know it will be fulfilling regardless.
Highly highly recommend!!!!

2017 Climber

Testimonial for Mount Kilimanjaro

Best trip ever. Scenery, nature and ‘culture shock’ (first time in Africa) contributed to a large extent. Eric was in control of the group and the support staff at all times, gave repeated updates on what to expect next etc. Excellent job. The strengths of the program are as advertised: strong western guide, excellent local staff (perhaps the highlight of this trip!), enough time to acclimate on the mountain etc.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Mount Kilimanjaro

We both very much enjoyed the expedition. Logistics were seamless, high quality of the local staff and guides and Eric was outstanding. Would note that this is my third Kili summit with Alpine over the past 4 years and the consistency across the experiences has been remarkable. Unquestionably. We also had a large group of climbers – 17 in total – of various skills and also varying degrees of feeling unwell on the mountain. Eric was outstanding at managing the group, maintaining control and helping everyone get to the top. Eric was very good at passing along tips and techniques for dealing with the mountain – whether that be from pace to breathing to rest-stepping to self-care. Very useful, easily presented and easy to grasp.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Mount Vinson

Vern and Ben were fantastic and Vinson was one of the more memorable climbs I’ve been on.

2018 Climber

Testimonial for Sacred Valley Trek to Macchu Picchu

What a fantastic trip! I loved the combination of hiking Inca trails over high mountain passes with a daily dose of culture in the form of exploring archaeological sites. Plus, it was always a treat to end the day at a beautiful luxury lodge with delicious food and dip in a hot tub! Getting a chance to visit so many archaeological sites and learn quite a bit about pre-Columbian Peru really helped me appreciate our visit to Machu Picchu. Not to be missed!

Mary B

Testimonial for Volcanoes of Ecuador

I thoroughly enjoyed the expedition. Every member of the A.A.I. team and all independent associates were professional, courteous, and friendly. All planned activities were entertaining and relevant toward expanding my knowledge of Ecuador. The acclimatization process was very effective. Photo opps. were abundant, lodging and meals were outstanding.

Jose Luis has outstanding leadership skills. From our initial acclimatization hike up Rucu Pichincha, He established a professional, conservative approach to mountaineering. For example, ordering gear changes, then backing off the summit attempt due to deteriorating weather. These actions provided a crucial foundation of trust as we negotiated the crevasse fields during our successful summit bid up Antisana. Jose Luis thoroughly reviewed all the fundamentals that were learned during the 3 day Muir climb. He reinforced our knowledge of leave no trace principals and pressure breathing. Later in the expedition, we learned glacier travel for alpine mountaineering, how to make a Prusik harness, and crevasse self arrest and rescue. Jose Luis and all the Ecuador staff were very patient and easy going. In addition to mountain guide, Jose Luis has a encyclopedic knowledge of all things Ecuador.

All interaction that I’ve had with A.A.I. staff has been personable and pleasant. Never had the impression that I was merely a customer, or received an impersonal response to any question. I normally do a lot of research and shopping before making a product or travel purchase, I haven’t found an alpine travel company that can compete with A.A.I. The quality of lodging was first rate. Beginning with our stay at the beautiful Hotel Quito, through our visits to historic and lovely haciendas, I simply couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience.

The camps where we pitched our tents were set in photogenic and remote areas. Manolo Vegas’ cooking made them home. All the equipment was of superior quality, either new or well maintained. The food was fresh and nutritious, presented in a clean manner. Including participation in the 3 day Muir climb, I have purchased nearly all of my own gear in accordance with the gear list. This has made for a simple and streamlined expedition.

My idea of a good time is being in a rough alpine environment, successfully, or very nearly, achieving ones objectives, then returning exhausted to be spoiled in a luxurious place. If you are faced with the choice of compromising this experience or raising prices, raise prices. I’d pay.

2017 Climber

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