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Successful Summits in South America

Earlier this week our Ecuador Climbing School had a fun acclimatization hike on Rucu Pinchincha (15,700′ / 4785m). The team rode a teleférico from the city of Quito, they hiked for two hours to the rock ridge, and then climbed the ridge to the summit. This climb is a proud peak on its own and it is also important for acclimatization before the other peaks on this expedition.

Today was a successful summit on Cayambe (18,996′ / 5790m) for our Ecuador Climbing School team members, Daniel and Alex. After a midnight wake-up call, they began their climb. Most of the climb was…

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Successful Climb and Summit of Everest

Their patience paid off! Both teams had a successful climb and summit of Everest during an almost perfect weather window.

The summit push really began when the teams left Camp 3 (27,390′ / 8300m). The #EverestNoFilter team (Adrian Ballinger, Cory Richards, “Topo” Esteban Mena, Mingma, Palden, and Pasang-Rinji) left C3 at 11:30pm on Friday May 26, Cory and Mingma left at 1:30am Saturday May 27.

Our Mount Everest North Side Rapid Ascent expedition team (Brooks Entwistle, Zeb Blais, Chad Peele, PaNuru, Dorji, Phurba, Nawang) left Camp 3 (27,390′ / 8300m) at 12:30am Saturday May 27 for their final summit push!

SUMMIT  at 5:43am on May 27…

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SUMMIT PUSH is happening!

The teams have been watching weather all month, and on May 21 the #EverestNoFilter team left Base Camp (17,000′ / 5200m) to begin their summit push!! Next stop was ABC (21,300′ / 6400m). Adrian and Cory were able to join the Alpenglow Rapid Ascent expedition team and celebrate Brooks Entwistle’s 50th birthday with him in ABC on May 22.

The teams are making good progress on their summit push! They left Advanced Base Camp yesterday (May 23) and arrived at North Col camp today, May 24.

“This is all that’s left. Climb. We leave ABC tomorrow. 24th…

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The jewel of the Khumbu

 

My original reason for climbing Ama Dablam was very simple: It was the most beautiful mountain I had ever laid eyes on. From the first moment I saw a photo of the peak I was hooked. The way she rises from the valley, its snowcapped flanks glimmer like a jewel high above the Khumbu valley. The name Ama Dablam actually means “mother’s necklace”.  The two main ridges visible from the valley resemble outstretched arms of a mother (Ama), and the iconic hanging glacier (the Dablam) is named for the traditional pendant worn by Sherpa women. The journey to…

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A snapshot of Ecuador, Part 2

 

 

Dawn found us high on the mountain. The last several hours had been filled with the rhythmic crunching of crampons, interspersed with stories of past adventures and thoughts of the route to come. The angle of the ice and snow demands good crampon technique, and my team is showing me that they were paying attention during the training the day before.

 

 

 

 

By the time the sun hits us, we were at the base of the summit headwall. The morning light rejuvenated the team, along with some hot tea and snacks. The challenge…

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A snapshot of Ecuador, Part 1

While I have climbed and guided all over the world, I had never visited the high mountain world of Ecuador. Even before the wheels of the airplane touched down, I had an idea of what was to come. The lush, green valleys of the Quito area are surrounded by multiple massive peaks, cloaked in thick blankets of ice and snow. The flight was quick and easy, with no significant time change from the west coast.

My friend and our senior guide in South America, Jaime Avila, met me at the airport and soon we were cruising towards downtown Quito and…

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Patience, Skiing, and Good Vibes

Photos: Zeb Blais

Yesterday the Rapid Ascent team went for a ski tour up the East Rongbuk Glacier on Mount Everest. A fun way to pass time and train while they wait on a weather window!

 

Both teams, Rapid Ascent and EverestNoFilter, are still waiting for a good weather window for safe and successful summits. This is something that cannot be rushed.

 

Patience, respect, and experience lead to good decisions for the team as a whole. Working with the weather is part of the game on Everest and that’s one of the main reasons why…

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What Is the Big Deal With Everest Base Camp?

Photos & Text: Zeb Blais

 

“Flames shot up, licking the delicate nylon fabric of Bali’s jacket.  He was not dissuaded as another ball of fire came dangerously close to his flammable clothes.  Evidently this wasn’t his first time serving flambe chicken at Everest Base Camp.  I realize you’re thinking “why the &@#$ are they having flambe in the middle of the Tibetan plateau?  What is this place?”


I’ll admit that I was simultaneously impressed, terrified and curious why the &@#$ we were having flambe in the…

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Why Does It Take So Long To Climb Everest?

Text & Photos: Zeb Blais

“My heart pounded in my chest, overpowering the music blaring through my headphones.  I was skipping between large granite boulders, ascending a ridge line 3,000′ above Everest Base Camp.  I wasn’t scared.  I wasn’t moving fast.  At sea level, my heart wouldn’t have bothered itself to increase more than a few beats per minute.  At 6,000 meters (20,000′) on my first high hike above camp, it was a different story.  I could feel the thin air slowing me down and taxing my body.  If moving at 6,000 meters is this

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Mount Everest: The Routes

Text & Photo: Zeb Blais

Mount Everest: The Routes

“Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.  It looms 29,035′ (8,848 meters) above sea level and sits directly on the border of Tibet and Nepal.  There are two commonly climbed routes up the mountain, the South Col Route and the Northeast Ridge.  

The South Col Route.   Teams start in Kathmandu and fly into Nepal’s Khumbu Valley where they trek to 17,300’ South Side Base Camp over a number of days to acclimatize. The Khumbu is incredibly beautiful and

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