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The Days Before Adrian Heads to Everest

Happy Everest Season! Adrian Ballinger and our teams are wrapping up logistics before they leave for Tibet in less than two weeks. We asked Adrian all about his final preparations. We wanted to know what’s exciting and what’s nerve-wracking this season.

Q: Adrian, what do the last couple of weeks before Everest entail for you?

A: Mostly the last few weeks are just logistical stress! We’re trying to make all the moving parts come together and that’s everything from Chinese visas and permits, to all the equipment and food we need to bring over,  to our Nepali staff and the months of work they have been doing to get everything in order and up to base camp. Plus, we’re 21 climbers and trekkers this year, so we need to make sure everybody feels 100% ready and prepared.

Q: Are you pre-acclimatized?

A: I’m sleeping in my Hypoxic head tent every night. I try to spend at least 8 hours in it so I try to do some reading or some emails while I’m in there for the full 8 hours. I’m up to 16,000’ feet right now and I still have about 10 more days to get up to base camp elevation of 17,500’. I’m feeling good!

Q: What’s your training plan been like this season?

A: I work with Uphill Athlete especially when I have a big goal like K2 this summer. Getting ready for Everest has just been a part of that training program for K2. Most days I’m either doing long low-intensity training like ski touring or I’m doing some sort of shorter-high-intensity-max-effort workout on a steep hill down near Reno. Today is a good day because I have a recovery day so I just have to go run for 90 minutes in the Valley.

Q: That’s a recovery day?!

A: Yes! That’s a recovery day because I don’t have to do any real uphill but um, it’s pretty snowy out there so I’m going to get wet! At least Cat {my dog} will be excited.

Q: How is packing going?

A: I can’t say packing is going “good.” I think we currently have gear in piles in Maggie’s shed, Logan’s shed, my carport, my spare bedroom, and the office in Squaw. Somehow we need to pull it all together and get it into duffle bags. That’s next week’s project.

Q: What are you getting excited about for Everest this season? Any interesting projects you can tell us about?

A: Mostly I’m excited to see it all come together and for us to start working as a team. This is the most stressful time of my season where the logistics feel like none of them are going to work. So what I’m most excited about is the 10th of April when I’m in Lhasa and I’m meeting teammates and we’re just going climbing- that’s what we’re there for.

In terms of specifics- so excited to support Cory and Topo on their attempt on a new route. It’s been 2 decades since a new route has been put up on Everest and I really think those guys are prepared and strong and I want to see them pull this off.

I’m also excited for some of the members from last year to come back. They had this oxygen system failure that kept them from summiting just an hour or so below the summit. Some of them have been able to come back again this year and I just can’t wait to see them have the opportunity they deserve to stand on top.

AND I’m excited to work with the guide team. This year’s guide team is unique. Of course, Chad is back for his umpteenth season and I’ll be there guiding… but this year we also have Carla and Lydia- two of the strongest women on the planet guiding with Alpenglow Expeditions. I’m going to learn so much from them and we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.

Q: Who’s going to Everest this season? Give us a rundown of the teams.

A: We’re 21 foreigners total and 18 sherpa, plus 5-6 base camp support staff.  All together, we’re like a small town! We’re 40-something people and there’s really a big mix. We have our Rapid Ascent team, which is kind of like the bedrock foundational program of Alpenglow (A 35-day climb of the mountain with five members and two guides.) We have a Lightning Ascent which is something I’m really excited about. We have one member trying to climb Everest door-to-door USA-to-USA in less than two weeks which has never been done- so I’m really excited to support that.

Of course, we have Cory and Topo along with his support crew and then we have one more team with another 6 climbers.

Q: Do you have any climbing goals you can tell us about? What’s the next step after Everest for you?

A: Of course, I’m excited to climb Everest this year, but this season, it also serves as a training block. I’ll be getting ready for this summer when I’m going to the Karakorum range in Pakistan to try to climb K2 without oxygen for the first time. I’ll be joined by Carla, who is also guiding for Everest this year, and all-star guide Topo (after he climbs his new route on Everest without oxygen, he’s going to come and support Carla and me with oxygen on K2.) K2 has been a dream of mine since I started reading about mountains. It looks like one of the most beautiful steep mountains on the planet and it’s everything I love- both high altitude and also technical ice/rock climbing (not just walking on snow). I just can’t wait to see it, regardless of whether I can get on top or not.

Q: What’s it like to climb an 8,000m peak without oxygen?

A: Above 26,000’ you can’t eat, you can’t sleep- it’s like you have a terrible hangover but you still need to perform as an athlete. In a regular race, if an athlete pushes too hard, they DQ and head to an aid station. On an 8,000m peak, there is no rescue if things go wrong up high. Nobody is strong enough to carry the weight of another person at that altitude. To summit without oxygen, you have to carefully navigate that line of when you are suffering the right amount versus when you are pushing too hard.


For more information on Everest Rapid Ascent or any other of our expeditions, visit our website or call us in the office at 877-873-5376.