Climb Pisco and Chopicalqui

18 Days in Peru / (Skill level: Intermediate)

Price per person

$3,950.00

About this trip

Build basic high altitude mountaineering skills. Become familiar with expedition living, carrying a pack on crevassed terrain, and camping at two camps above Base Camp. Pisco and Chopicalqui are a great step toward bigger Himalayan peaks or the Seven Summits. Small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (3:1).

Overview

  • skill level

    Intermediate

  • Duration

    18 Days

The Cordillera Blanca (translated as The White Mountain Chain) mountains of Peru have been a focus of alpinists from around the world since the 1960’s. This tightly packed chain offers a huge variety of terrain, including 22,000 foot (6,700 meter) massifs like Huascaran, steep fluted ice faces like those of Alpamayo, and technical rock and mixed faces like those of Cayesh. It also offers many peaks that are ideal for building on basic high altitude mountaineering skills, all sitting above lush grassy valleys fed by clear alpine lakes.

On this expedition we will climb two of those intermediate peaks. Pisco (18,972 feet/5,783 meters) and Chopicalqui (20,848 feet/6,354 meters) are perfect next steps for climbers who have climbed glaciated peaks such as those in the USA, Mexico, Ecuador, or the Alps and want to continue building their skills and attempt a bigger peak. Our itinerary allows for plenty of time for acclimatization. This time is also ideal for skills seminars. Chopicalqui requires that each team-member feels comfortable camping in a harsh environment on an active glacier, carrying a large pack on crevassed terrain, and climbing fifty degree plus ice slopes on summit day. Our goal on Pisco is to ensure each climber has the time to build these skills, to acclimatize, and to summit one of the most beautiful peaks in Peru.

Both of these peaks require at least two camps above Base Camp before our attempt on the summit. This is very different from the day trips we often do in the USA or the huts we use in the Alps or Ecuador making Peru an ideal step toward bigger Himalayan peaks or the Seven Summits. You will become very familiar with expedition living by the end of this 19 day expedition. You will also have experienced the best of the Andes. The people of Peru are incredibly open and friendly, and we will spend time traveling through their farming communities on the way to the mountains. We will work with a local staff of friends who will be our cooks, camp guardians, and occasional porters, and will provide insight into the culture of the local Quechua people.

Our Pisco and Chopicalqui Expedition will be guided by one or more of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our lead guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in South America and know the Peruvian Andes intimately. Their knowledge of Andean culture as well as the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember!

We combine our guides’ experience with the local expertise of our close friend and expert Peruvian logistics operator, Alfredo Ibarra. An incredible cook, waking up each morning to Alfredo’s smile, hot coffee, and incredible pancakes will be a highlight of your trip. And our small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (3:1) ensures that you stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Altitude Experience

    It is required that climbers have prior experience at altitudes up to 14,000' and it is strongly recommended that climbers have prior experience at altitudes over 15,000'.

  • Technical Experience

    Prior roped climbing, cramponing, and ice axe skills are required.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Arrive in Lima in the evening/night. (Wednesday)

    • Day 2 — Drive to Huaraz

      Drive to Huaraz (8 hours) in our private van, where we are based out of a small but beautiful hotel (10,000 feet/3,050 meters).

    • Day 3 — Acclimatize and Organize

      An acclimatization and organization day in Huaraz.

    • Day 4 — Drive to Pisco Base Camp

      Drive to Pisco base camp in the Llanganuco valley (12,500 feet/3,810 meters). This 3 hour drive takes us through beautiful farming communities and past the famed Llanganuco lakes.

    • Day 5 — Hike to Cave Camp

      Carry a load to Cave Camp on Pisco (14,000 feet/4,267 meters) and return to base camp.

    • Day 6 — Move to Cave Camp

      Today we move to Cave Camp on Pisco.

    • Day 7 — Acclimatize at Cave Camp

      Acclimatization day at Cave Camp. Today we review glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills, while our famed Peruvian chef Alfredo brings up a hot lunch from base camp.

    • Day 8 — Climb to Moraine Camp

      Climb from Cave Camp to Moraine Camp (16,000 feet/4,877 meters). This climb crosses a challenging rock glacier before climbing steeply into camp in a small sandy basin just below the toe of the glacier.

    • Day 9 — Summit Day

      Summit Day at 18,872 feet (5,752 meters)! The climb to the summit of Pisco begins on 3rd class rock slabs before stepping onto the glacier. From the toe of the glacier we climb moderate slopes to a saddle on the ridge between Pisco and the Huandoys. As the sun rises we climb steeper exposed slopes crossing frequent crevasses to the final summit bulge. This final slope is often very steep, necessitating excellent crampon and vertical axe technique and a tight belay! After our climb, we pack up high camp and return to base camp.

    • Day 10 — Rest Day

      Rest in base camp, where we enjoy the best food the backcountry has to offer from our Peruvian cook and good friend Alfredo Ibarra.

    • Day 11 — Rest Day with Active Option

      Another rest day, with an optional excursion to Laguna 69 (15,500 feet/4,724 meters), one of the most beautiful high altitude lakes in the world.

    • Day 12 — Move back to Moraine Camp

      Leave base camp, and ascend to Moraine Camp (16,000 feet/4,877 meters) on Chopicalqui, with the help of one or two high altitude porters.

    • Day 13 — Rest Day

      Rest in Moraine Camp, possibly doing a load carry to high camp.

    • Day 14 — Climb to High Camp

      Move onto the glacier and ascend to high camp, which sits on a flat glacier bench at 18,000 feet (5,486 meters).

    • Day 15 — Summit Day

      Attempt Chopicalqui’s 20,846' (6,354m) summit. The route ascends a knife-edge ridge for over 2,000 vertical feet (610 meters), with long traverses regularly interrupted by short but steep headwalls. This is a summit to be incredibly proud of. In most years only a few strong teams from around the globe are successful. After the summit we descend to Moraine Camp.

    • Day 16 — Descend

      Descend to base camp.

    • Day 17 — Drive to Huaraz

      Our van picks us up early in the morning and returns us to Huaraz, where we celebrate with hot showers, a great meal, and salsa dancing at the local discotheque.

    • Day 18 — Departure

      Catch flights home from Lima.

      • Head

      • Smith I/O goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses that are appropriate for bright and low-light conditions. Ventilation and anti-fog features are recommended.

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      • Kaenon Klay sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap recommended (Chums or Croakies).

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      • SmartWool Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet still comfy.

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      • Patagonia Lined Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that your beanie fits under a helmet. We also recommend the Marmot Summit Hat.

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      • Marmot PreCip Baseball Hat

        A great hat to help keep the sun out of your eyes and keep you cool on warm days.

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      • Hands

      • Black Diamond guide glove

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). The warmer the liner the better.

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      • Marmot Windstopper glove

        You will rarely take these gloves off.  They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.

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      • Feet

      • LaSportiva Bushido hiking shoe

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. High top hiking boots are heavy and unnecessary.

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      • LaSportiva Batura

        Boots should have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking.

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      • Darn Tough 1/4 cushion hiking sock

        These are your every day sock, good for day hikes, trekking and town days.

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      • Darn Tough Cushion boot sock

        Your go-to mountain sock. It is very important to dial in your boot/ sock combo, as everyone will have a slightly different fit in their boots. Merino wool has become a guides favorite, and we have found these socks to be a solid performer.  NO COTTON.

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      • Upper Body

      • Icebreaker long sleeve Top

        A merino or poly-pro base layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying.

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      • Marmot Greenland Jacket

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. PacLite® is preferred for lightweight.

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      • Marmot ROM softshell jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation.

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      • Patagonia Nanopuff jacket

        Warmer than your expedition weight top, but not as extreme as your big puffy jacket. Full zip is recommended.

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      • Patagonia R1 hoody

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation.

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      • Patagonia tropic comfort hoody

        This lite weight hoody has become a guide favorite for almost every day spent in the mountains. This layer can be worn on hot or cold days, and shields you from the sun during long hours spent outside.

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      • Icebreaker Tech Lite shirt

        Light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.  We have found that merino wool is the superior material for base layers, as they regulate body temperature very well, and are extremely odor resistant.

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      • Lower Body

      • Arc'teryx Atom LT insulated pants

        Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Pant

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets.

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      • Marmot Scree Pant

        You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot.

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      • Patagonia expedition weight bottoms

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

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      • Icebreaker long underwear

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. This base-layer will get you through a wide range of temperatures. NO COTTON.

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      • Patagonia Shorts

        Throw these on under other layers for when the sun begins to beat, or you have a sudden urge to jump in a glacial lake. Lightweight, durable and comfortable. NO COTTON.

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      • Equipment

      • Black Diamond HotWire Carabiner

        Lightweight, non-locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond VaporLock Screwgate Carabiner

        Lightweight, locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond ATC-XP belay device

        Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes.

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      • Black Diamond Raven Ultra ice axe

        Non-technical ice tool, 50-60 cm long. Make sure axe has a comfortable hold, and is lightweight.

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      • Nalgene 1 liter water bottle

        Two Lexan 1 liter, wide mouth bottles.

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      • Black Diamond Trekking Poles

        Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable. You must have at least one, but we recommend 2.

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      • Black Diamond Serac crampon

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. * crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Petzl Sitta harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable or stretchable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required.. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.

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      • Marmot Col sleeping bag

        Rated to -20º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Granite Gear Compression Sack.

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      • Therm-a-rest NeoAir Therm sleeping pad

        72 inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.

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      • Marmot Long Hauler Duffel

        These bags should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big! You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying.

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      • Black Diamond Bullet pack

        A small pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). This pack is also great to use for your carry on luggage.

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      • Black Diamond Speed 50 pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. This pack should be comfortable, lightweight and fitted to your body.

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      • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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    • Would you consider organizing a custom expedition to Pisco and Chopicalqui?

      Yes, custom expedition requests are always welcome. Give us a call or send an email!

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • Do I really need to purchase trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing both types of insurance. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard and Global Rescue. You can find links to both of these insurance companies by heading over to our Partners page.

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is a AMGA certified Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Jaime Avila

Jaime is Alpenglow Expeditions’ senior lead guide. A native Ecuadorian, Jaime has been guiding and climbing throughout South America and the world for twenty years. He has successfully led groups on challenging routes like the Southwest Ridge of Ama Dablam (Nepal), the Shield Route of Huascaran (Peru), the Polish Direct on Aconcagua (Argentina), and El Altar (Ecuador). We have been guiding, climbing, and traveling with Jaime since 1998 and the feedback from members is always the same: there is no better teammate. Whether climbing a tough ice route, humping a huge pack, or stuck in a storm, Jaime will keep you laughing, learning, and glad to be in the mountains. He is an ASEGUIM certified mountain guide.

 

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Topo is 25 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM

Brian Warren

IFMGA/AMGA Aspirant Mountain Guide

Brian is a very passionate climber, skier and mountain guide.  He has been climbing for over 13 years and has spent the last 8 of those years skiing as many days as possible.  Brian currently works as a professional mountain guide year round and can be found guiding in various parts of the world including Jackson Hole, WY, the Pacific Northwest and the European Alps in the winter months.  Brian has also spent time climbing and guiding in Alaska, Canada, South America and the Himalaya.  He currently enjoys beautiful alpine traverses, warm desert rock and technical ski mountaineering.  He recently completed a ski mountaineering traverse enchaining the East Face of the Grand Teton, the Chounaird Couloir of the Middle Teton and the South East Couloir of the South Teton in a one day push car to car.  He is also an accomplished rock and ice climber and is always looking for new and exciting venues.  Brian presently holds IFMGA/AMGA Aspirant status as well as a Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Masters, and an Avalanche III certification.  Brian is always excited to guide people in the mountains and to help individuals obtain their personal goals of mountain travel.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Gaspar Navarrete

Gaspar Navarrete

ASEGUIM Certified Mountain Guide

Gaspar hails from Ecuador, and has been guiding for over 18 years, and climbing since he was 12. He has extensive experience in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Patagonia, Aconcagua, the Himalaya, the Cascades, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Gaspar has established new routes in both Ecuador and Bolivia. As an active instructor with the Ecuadorian School for Mountain Guides, he has trained in Ecuador, Bolivia and France. He is a Wilderness First Responder, and has spent a great deal of time working at high altitude.

Gaspar joined one of Quito’s oldest climbing clubs at a young age, which gave him the opportunity to mentor under very experienced climbers. He considers the Andes, including Patagonia, his home, and he love to share his enthusiasm for the mountains, the Andean traditions, food and culture with his guests.

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM

Logan Talbott

Director of Operations / Guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over 10 years in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an IFMGA aspirant mountain guide, a certified Ski and Rock Guide through the AMGA, an Avalanche course leader through AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and spotted dog Arlo.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is a fully certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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