Absolutely I enjoyed the expedition. To put it simply the whole experience was the best that I could have asked for or imagined for my first big climb and introduction to mountaineering. Very grateful to the whole Alpine Ascents International team. From the director of operations, the great people in the gear department, the people who transported us, and of course the excellent guides.
From the beginning, the guides demonstrated excellent leadership skills. Their requirements and expectations of us were clear, and when I needed more information they were always willing to discuss. They held the group together as a unified team, and they empowered us to make good decisions, leading to one of the clients making the very respectable decision to turn around.
Each of the guides had their own piece of what came to be a very comprehensive knowledge transfer on the basics of mountaineering, throughout the trip. In addition to passing on technical knowledge (especially Jangbu and Travis with snow school which was very well done), I greatly appreciated the guides passing on overarching values and mindset of mountaineers. This was especially true of Craig. I also learned a great deal just be watching the guides. I appreciated how lead guide Craig pointed out a couple of mistakes that I had made, and was later willing to discuss them in more detail as I am interested in learning from my mistakes. It was truly a pleasure to meet Dawa Sherpa, to climb with her, and to talk about her expedition on K2. I think that she has a tremendous amount of potential to share her vast knowledge.
The guides were very personable and easy to get along with. These are the kind of people I could spend weeks with on longer expeditions in my future. One of the things I really respect is how humble they all were, despite being very accomplished mountaineers.
The administration and office staff were extremely helpful throughout my preparations, helping me sort out everything from gear details to training considerations. The course materials and suggested readings helped me prepare for the climb, and I read everything.
The training statements, in addition to talking with Gordon and one of the guides, helped me develop my own training plan that in the end worked very well. I’m glad I took the training as seriously as I did, and the statements and reminders helped me maintain my dedication. Inadequate training reduces the summit odds and the safety margin for everyone involved, not to mention reducing personal enjoyment. Keep encouraging people to taking the DC route very seriously. For many like me, this is an important first step and habits formed preparing for this climb will continue on to bigger climbs in the future.
The camps at Camp Muir and high camp on Ingraham Flats were great. I appreciated the good food, and accommodations. Im very glad that AAI uses the high camp and bases the summit attempt out of a tent camp rather than camp muir, for me that is a big part of a mountaineering experience. Camp Muir is too ‘cush’. High quality equipment including the tents contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the experience. Great food.
The gear department was very helpful from my first questions nearly a year out from my climb, through to gear check in after the climb. During gear check before the climb they were very willing to help substitute gear to ensure good fit. Very knowledgeable crew.
The programs greatest strength was its ability to provide a complete mountaineering experience on Rainier, that allowed a novice like me to be adequately prepared and complete this first big climb. From the information materials to the guides passing on knowledge, to logistics, and gear, everything was very high quality.
My biggest challenge that I could use even more help with is preparing for what’s next. AAI has been very willing to answer questions, but Im still overwhelmed with trying to plan out my future in mountaineering. I don’t have any specific suggestions here unfortunately. Otherwise, keep up the great work. Keep the high standards that you obviously have for your organization. They show up in the details.