Mount Rainier 3 Day Muir Climb Testimonials

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.

Nicholas

I had a fantastic trip on Rainier. One main point I noticed from beginning to end was the level of professionalism and planning involved. From Josh’s equipment check, which was spot on, to the food bags prepped, and climbing equipment in a Job-Box, it felt like I was climbing with a quality company rather than a backyard crew. One of the main differences I noticed between my climb with Alpine Ascents from other guiding companies was that food was cooked for the group and the quality of food. It’s a weird thing to focus on I guess, but it was amazing the difference in stress levels knowing our food was taken care of vs. knowing we had to figure it all out and ration. The guides were really great. This group of four in particular were an extremely well-balanced crew in regards to personalities meshing together. Brent and Josh established themselves early as being the vocal leaders and the people to go to for help, beta, chitchat, stories, etc. The other two guides held their own in a different way, both with phenomenal experiences and resumes, they tended to be a little more quiet, but always steady.

I feel somewhat seasoned as a climber having a lot of ascents and lead experience on my own, so there was a lot that I felt aware of on ascent day that enabled me to see our guides objectively as very high quality. This year’s climate for Seattle and the northwest has been no mystery – I have never seen Rainier look so brown and exposed before, so I knew going into it that we would have icier conditions, more exposed slopes, and lots of route-finding challenges over crevasses. The climb did not disappoint in that department. In addition, we were climbing in consistent winds with solid gusts and I noticed the two lenticular clouds the second there was light. Given the climate conditions as well as the weather conditions mixed with the heat, I felt this route up Emmons was fairly sketchy. They made efforts to minimize this in all ways from being upbeat and chipper to having strong words for climbers when necessary to ensure safety. While other parties decided to wait until 3 am and some of them 7 am, our guides wanted to be the first out, waking up at 11, and out around 12am. During our ascent every rope team leader maintained.

Then there are softer leadership skills like socializing with clients during the hikes, break time, and dinner/breakfasts. I had multiple hours of conversations with Josh and Brent and not all of it was about climbing, which to me is the strongest indicator of quality. If I can converse for hours about thoughts and ideas outside of climbing beta, then the guides are actually investing in their clients.

Strengths were the level of prep prior to the climb. This includes walking into the welcome room for gear check and already having the t-shirts and climber permits lying on the benches with names. That kind of walk-in prep and service says a lot for first impressions. Josh took the baton from there with an equally professional gear check and climb. I was under the impression the whole time that the guides had everything that could be expected within their control. There were no cowboy guides, they were professionals.

The expedition was a great way to let clients feel out what a high altitude expedition might be like and how one might acclimate. The logistics and level of preparation were planned down to every detail from not only the minimum requirements for climbing but also what layers to wear and when, how many calories are needed, what to bring and how much water should be consumed. Outstanding. AAIs reputation precedes itself and the guides held it up very well. Our guides were very patient and seemed to enjoy their work. These guys worked their asses off and the overall level of service and attention to detail is unparalleled. The training goals were very clear and I felt physically prepared having trained for six months and doing what was asked in terms of the training load and back to backs.

The guides were amazing and dedicated to their craft and would definitely like to climb with AAI again. I was especially impressed with having a world class alpinist as our lead guide and meeting with Pete Athans and having him taking the time to chat with us about some of the archaeological projects he is involved in (I forgot that I had seen one of his documentaries). The icing on the cake was meeting Lakpa Gelu Sherpa which was also a great honor and wonderful surprise. It has become sort of a cliché that mountaineering is a selfish endeavor for rich dilettantes (or not so rich ones like me). However, AAI approaches it with a sense of purpose through environmental stewardship and cultural resource management. This is exemplified by not only the high technical skill of the guides, but their knowledge of environmental impacts, local people and their relationship to mountains as a sustainable resource.

2016 Climber

Very much so! Our group had a great time. The comforts provided for an outdoor experience are phenomenal including a hot breakfast and dinner both days on the mountain. I felt this led to better performance by all of the climbers including myself. I was very happy with the quality of the expedition including the guide staff who were terrific. When called on to make the tough decision to turn one of our rope teams around (which is exactly why we went guided) our guides came through for us and did not compromise the safety of the group. Our guides provided us with excellent demonstrations during snow school and critiqued our ability to follow instructions correctly during that time. In addition, I was given constructive criticism for things I was told to avoid during snow school. All in all it felt like our guides were watching to ensure we followed their instruction and to ensure the safety of our group overall. We very much enjoyed our guides. They were friendly, funny, and generally just excellent company. Our group got along with all of our guides very well and it was a pleasurable experience being around them. I’d be happy to join any of our guides on future climbs. The administration, office staff, website, correspondence, and course materials were key in making our trip a success. I constantly found myself referring to the website to check items off my gear list. The staff at the AAI office during gear check were very friendly and helpful. Correspondence regarding training for the climb were a very useful for measuring progress and readiness for the climb. The administration, office staff, website, correspondence, and course materials were key in making our trip a success. I constantly found myself referring to the website to check items off my gear list. The staff at the AAI office during gear check were very friendly and helpful. Correspondence regarding training for the climb were a very useful for measuring progress and readiness for the climb. The food provided was outstanding!!! I never would have expected to eat like a king during a climbing trip. Ropes used by our guides were high quality and appeared to be in great shape. Strengths: Outstanding guide staff – from start to finish all of our guide staff were very knowledgeable, friendly, funny, personable, and likeable. Unbelievable food for a mountain experience – I rarely eat as good at home as I did on Mt. Rainier. Our guide staff prepared some amazing meals in places I would’ve never expected it. Ride to and from the mountain – Our drivers were wonderful and it was great not having to drive to and from the mountain before and after the climb. With the fatigue that undeniably takes place after a long day of climbing it was great to be able to rest a bit during the return trip back home. In addition, having our drivers show up at the mountain to greet us with cold refreshments after a very long day of climbing was just what the doctor ordered. Weaknesses: Can’t think of any

Absolutely – the expedition was outstanding in every aspect. Compared to other mountaineering trips I’ve taken with Alpine Ascents’ competitors, I found the trip to be extremely well organized, informative and instructive. What I will remember most from this experience is not my actual Rainier climb, but rather my interaction with the Alpine Ascents guide team. They are truly an amazing and special group of people, and I greatly appreciate their thoughtfulness, empathy and good humor.

Although Nik was likely the youngest member of the guide team, he was by far the most compassionate and thoughtful out of all of the guides on the trip. Nik led the rope team right behind me during summit day, and instructed me throughout the last parts of the climb to the summit – both in terms of using the ice axe to climb through steep pitches, as well as giving kind yet firm encouragement to keep me moving forward. I doubt I would have summited Rainier if he were not there. Additionally, because I had altitude issues and no appetite on the last day, my pace was significantly weaker than the rest of the group during the descent. Nik was incredibly patient in waiting for me to descend the mountain at a snail’s pace, and never showed any irritation at my frequent rest breaks or inability to take down food. He truly cared about my well-being, and I have no doubt he would do the same for any other climber. I would like to relay my sincere thanks and appreciation. Alpine Ascents is very fortunate to have him on its staff.

Kirah led my rope team during summit day. She was very strong and patient in guiding myself and another climber down the mountain early after summit, and making us descent as fast as possible in accordance to our abilities. I was moving fairly slowly at that point, had loose footing during the rocky portions of descent to high camp, and sometimes freaked out while crossing over crevasses on steel ladders. Kirah took it all in stride, dealing and working through all issues calmly.

I really learned a lot from all of the guides on this trip, especially from Devin and Kirah. Kirah’s tutorial on glacier travel, proper footwork, and appropriate equipment was extremely clear, well thought out and informative. Her presentation was intuitive, easy to follow and remember. Devin was a wealth of information during our initial gear check, as well as during the climb. All of his recommendations were spot on. I especially appreciated his suggestions to bring real food that we would enjoy, rather than the usual power bars. I had little appetite during the trip due to altitude issues. I would have eaten far less food if I had not adjusted my snack options according to Devin’s recommendations.

They are personable, thoughtful, fair, hardworking, and exhibit an emotional maturity and tenacity that is severely lacking in most of corporate America. These guides make Alpine Ascents what it is. I had been on a previous mountaineering trip where one of the guides was very arrogant and disdainful of our lack of backpacking/climbing knowledge and/or physical fitness levels. This was not the case with the Alpine Ascents team at all – they were all eager to help and make sure we were having a great experience. Devin and Nik were the most thoughtful of the group. Ben also helped distribute and carry a portion of my belongings down from Camp Muir during the last day, which helped me get down the mountain faster.

The food on this trip was the best that I’ve had. It is truly a luxury to have non-dehydrated, real food while camping. Strengths: superb organization and logistics, excellent and high quality guide team. Weaknesses: None that I can think of. I look forward to many future trips with Alpine Ascents.

Fantastic experience. The guides were experts and imbued a confidence that translated to all client climbers. And the weather couldn’t have been better. Superb. All 4 guides did a wonderful job of explaining vital information for safety, preparedness and route planning. They also did a great job of preparing the group mentally for what was to come. I almost felt guilty arriving to camp with tents already pitched and meals prepared for me!

I cannot say enough about how amazing the experience was. Every bit of it – even the challenges – were simply incredible. I feel quite lucky to have had this group of guides. Their accomplishments as mountaineers were not lost on our group. They were top notch in every way. Each guide stood out as being humble and sincere. I don’t know how common that is amongst guides – but there was never an ounce of ego or attitude. Quite honestly, their just being good people made everything they said and did accessible. It was inspiring for someone like me who would love to continue mountaineering. I wanted to literally mimic their style and grace. John is a fabulous conversationalist.and is very sincere. I truly think that he put everyone at ease with his calm, professional demeanor. His background in nursing was extremely helpful as well. I cannot say enough about Lakpa Rita Sherpa. What an honor to have climbed with him. He is absolutely hysterical and a master at his craft. I was quite sad to leave him! Alpine Ascents has some very talented backcountry chefs. The food was honestly the best I’d ever had on the trail. I will spend the next several campouts aiming to replicate the burritos that were served. Gear – Also perfect – an exceptionally easy experience. You guys know how to do it! Honestly, I have nothing to say with regards to improving. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the experience. I cannot imagine climbing with anyone else. The guides were just absolutely incredible and I would trust them with my life at any time. Top notch all the way around.

Alpine Ascents knocked it outta the park! This was my 3rd trip with AAI (Baker; Ecuador & Rainier) and each time I’m impressed with the quality/safety of your company. All 7 climbers reached the summit which is a testament to your guides. There were 4 first time climbers who had never stepped foot on anything close to Rainier. Job Well Done!!! The cool thing about this trip was the vast knowledge we had guiding the trip. Guides who have summited the tallest; nastiest peaks around the world. Each guide shared their experiences both good and bad with our group. Each guide was very encouraging during skills training and each climber walked away better prepared. I had booked all 8 spots on this trip and let me tell you.I bet our roster changed 10 times. AAI’s office staff never once complained and Chris Thalman was awesome to deal with. Same is true for Ellen. Each time we made a change the appropriate emails/paperwork was sent out to the new climber. If there’s a complaint in this department it would have to be pointed back at us for not getting everything turned in timely. Your folks were great! AAI has this program nailed down in my opinion. We seemed much more organized; prepared and in better spirits compared to others on the mountain. Thanks again to AAI for another unbelievable trip! Everyone left impressed with your staff/guides and for most an experience like no other.

The climb was awesome! Always a butt kicker but it was a fun experience, especially going with a bunch of friends and family. The weather was beautiful, the guides were friendly and professional, and the mountain provided a unique and challenging route thanks to all the hard work the guides have been putting in to it. Compared to the long summit day itinerary and freeze-dried meals that we saw another company’s clients munching on at Muir, there is never a doubt in my mind that AAI is the company to climb with.

We could not have asked for more from our guides. Ben was a great lead guide who provided the perfect combination of friendliness, humor, and professionalism. He always laid out what to expect for each day’s itinerary and made sure everyone was prepared for the next step. His “tough motivation” for some of the climbers definitely ensured a higher level of success on summit day. Danny is/was a friend to majority of the climbers on the team so he was able to customize his teaching/knowledge to fit the individual whether he/she needed “tough love” or humor to get through each part of the climb. Joe was awesome working with the “slower” members of the team. On summit day we had to switch around rope teams due to differing climbing speeds halfway through and Joe was able to provide one-on-one treatment on his rope. His patience and motivation led to a successful summit for that individual. As a female it’s always great to work with female guides and Pasang was no exception. She has a ton of experience and knowledge and was always on the lookout to help out anyone with their struggles to include hurt feet, dehydration, and excessive fatigue.

The guides were always helpful in answering our endless stream of questions. Ben entertained our curiosity about the various international expeditions he leads and motivated many of us to want to climb other peaks. His knowledge and experience is extensive but it was also evident that he gave each of the other guides the opportunity to share their expertise as well. When it came to teaching skills Danny was very knowledgeable about the different walking techniques and how to conserve our energy on summit day. Joe had great advice on how to pack a light and easy to access summit day pack. Pasang was very helpful teaching self-arresting techniques but even more importantly she was great with my mom. My mom had a difficult summit day experience and Pasang ended up giving her a lot of one-on-one treatment which really helped her out. Due to that time with Pasang my mom was able to come off the mountain not summiting but with a very optimistic and happy attitude.

The guides were very easy to get along with. We were a rowdy group and the guides joined in our ridiculous jokes and storytelling making it a fun climb. They shared their personal life stories and made everyone feel welcome and a special part of the climbing team. My experience with the administration and office staff was seamless. The course materials were very helpful with making meal plans and training. Camp Muir was great. I love the fact we get to use the gombu as it provides a little more comfort for the first night. Having the tents set up and ready to go at High Camp is also super helpful. The extra sleeping mats at both locations was great as well! The group equipment and tents were fine, no complaints there. The food was awesome! The warm cooked meals were a great way to start and end the day (I always recommend AAI to others because of their fabulous meals). Guacamole burgers and crispy French fries were a great way to end day one and the blue berry pancakes were my favorite breakfast!

I loved every second of my trip. I was lucky enough to reach the summit, and look forward to trying Mt. Baker with your outfit next year. I don’t often use the words “World Class”, but the team assigned to us was exactly that. This was my first mountaineering experience, and while I was physically fit enough for the trip, I wasn’t prepared for how technical this climb is. If not for Craig, Tom, Troy and Thomas’s considerable experience level I would’ve probably quit on multiple sections of the ascent. Every time I started to panic and think this is WAY too dangerous, I was able to relax knowing I was working with some of the most talented people I’ve come across. The food was much better than I expected. Best quesadillas ever! The entire trip was amazing and I will use AAI again for any future climbs. Please be sure to pass along my notes on Craig, Tom, Troy and Thomas, because without them I would’ve never made it!

2015 Climber

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