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Top 5 Things Alpenglow Expeditions Does Differently on Mt Everest

Approaching the summit from the northside of Everest
Approaching the summit from the northside of Everest

We’ve always done things a bit differently than most other guide services, and it all starts with Adrian Ballinger’s visionary Rapid Ascent™ approach to pre-acclimatizing for mountains across the world. Read on to see how our Mount Everest Rapid Ascent Expedition is different than other international mountain guide services.


1 . Rapid Ascent™ Approach

While nearly all other mountain guide services continue to approach mountains the same way as has been done for decades, Adrian Ballinger knew there was another way. His main goal was to reduce the amount of time spent sitting around in tents while acclimatizing in-country. His vision included acclimatizing while at home, continuing to follow through on career and family obligations instead of wasting time that could otherwise be productive. Our Rapid Ascent™ approach to Everest takes what was once a 45-60 day expedition and reduces it to 35 days. We pre-acclimatize using Hypoxico Training Systems for 8 weeks before leaving for Tibet and we arrive later than traditional teams feeling fit, happy, and healthy.


Guide Topo Mena = the most stoked

2 . Strict Prerequisites for Everest Team Members

To join an Alpenglow Expeditions open enrollment team on Mt Everest we require all members have experience on at least one 8000m peak. Experience with fixed ropes, oxygen systems, working with Sherpa, and generally understanding the psychological pressure of the massive Himalaya all add up to a well functioning team. We believe that this experience not only has a direct impact on safety, but it also creates strong teams who have the best shot at success on the tallest peak in the world.


Adrain on summit morning just before dawn
Adrain on summit morning just before dawn

3 . North Side vs South Side of Mt Everest

If you’ve read John Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air”, or casually followed the news that comes from Everest every season, you are familiar with the South Side of the mountain and its many drawbacks. Alpenglow climbs from the North Side arriving into the Tibetan capital of Lhasa before making a drive across the vast Tibetan plains to base camp. The North Side is preferred by our team for a couple of reasons. 1) We avoid the Khumbu Icefall – the objective hazard posed by this piece of terrain is extreme and we cannot mitigate or manage this hazard to an acceptable level. The only way to lower the risk is to spend less time exposed to the hazard (climb faster and take fewer trips through the icefall). While guided teams might only have to travel through the icefall a few times, the high altitude workers that form the backbone of all Everest teams must make many trips through the icefall, and their exposure to the serac and avalanche hazard is much greater than anyone else on the mountain. Scores of people have been killed and injured in this specific piece of terrain, and the odds are that more will be killed in the future. While there is an inherent risk in all adventures in the mountains,  and sometimes we choose to accept an elevated level of risk, this specific threat is unacceptable to us. Our primary job as mountain guides is to manage and mitigate risk to our guests, our staff and ourselves. When we cannot do this, the only option is to choose different terrain. On Everest, this means the North Ridge via Tibet. The North Ridge route does feature Serac hazard, but it is minuscule in comparison and easily managed. 2) Crowds – less than half the amount of climbers attempt from the North Side whereas the South Side can seem crowded and lines form on summit day. 3) Access – driving to base camp allows us to access high altitude quickly and get to work almost immediately.


Look at that jetstream ripping across the sky! Eddie Bauer tents keeping us comfortable as one can expect to be on an 8000m peak

4 . Experienced Guide Team led by Adrian Ballinger

Adrian has 9 summits of Everest under his belt, one without supplemental oxygen. His intimate knowledge of the route, weather patters and leadership amongst other guides is unparalleled. The team of guides that lead clients up the mountain are all certified IMGA guides or well on their way with a tremendous amount of Himalayan experience. Our Sherpa team includes some of the most experienced high altitude workers on the planet.


Our Sherpa team includes some of the most experienced high altitude workers on the planet.

5 . Superior Logistics

Led by a devoted office staff that is available 24/7, Alpenglow’s logistics team blends U.S. based office staff with premier in-country logistics to create a seamless expedition. This translates to easy planning with resources at climbers fingertips prior to the expedition. Once on the mountain, base camp is comfortable (some might even say cushy) with WiFi to connect with friends and family, dedicated and experienced kitchen staff, and plush seating to relax the mind and body before heading up.


Find out More

To find out more about Alpenglow Expeditions and our Mt Everest Rapid Ascent™ expeditions, take a look at a few more of our blogs.


Scope view of our 2018 Rapid Ascent teams heading up to the summit



For more information on our Everest Expeditions or any of our other international expeditions check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email