Mount Everest North Side Rapid Ascent Expedition

35 Days in Tibet / (Skill level: Advanced)

Price per person

$85,000.00

About this trip

Summit the world's tallest peak from the North Side - without the crowds or the risk of the South Side and Khumbu Icefall. Experience the unique culture, environment, and people of Tibet. Climb Everest in half of the time of traditional expeditions, with the North Side's most professional team and best logistics.

Overview

  • skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    35 Days

Alpenglow Expeditions’ Rapid-Ascent climbs are an entirely new way to approach big-mountain expeditions. After 15 years of guiding expeditions all over the world, including more than a dozen 8,000-meter peak expeditions, we have refined and distilled the acclimatization and climbing process to maximize safety, health, success, and enjoyment. Please contact us to discuss exactly what these shorter climbs entail.

Highlights:

  • Summit the world’s tallest peak from the North Side – without the crowds or the risk of the South Side and Khumbu Icefall
  • Experience the unique culture, environment and people of Tibet
  • Climb Everest in half the time of traditional expeditions, with the North Side’s most professional team and best logistics and infrastructure

Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world (29,035 feet/8,850 meters), is an incredible challenge and experience. Alpenglow’s unique format and extensive experience gives us the ability to achieve the highest levels of both safety and success. Since 2015, we have moved our operations to the North Side of Mt. Everest. With increasing stability in Tibet being contrasted by increasing instability in Nepal, the significantly safer and less crowded route from the North Side is an obvious choice for our teams. Our team’s strengths cater well to the increased remoteness of the North Side. Our Sherpa, guides, and support staff are unanimous that responsible climbing teams must avoid the increasingly unpredictable icefall and politics found on Everest’s South Side. Many members of our team (including Sherpa, cooks, doctor, and guides) have worked extensively on the North Side and make our team one of the most experienced to offer climbs from Tibet.

Alpenglow offers an exceptional level of competency, safety, and comfort to Everest expeditions. Our team will be limited to 9 members, with certified guides and the best Sherpa and cooks available (staff we have been working with for more than a decade). Our small group size allows us to adapt to changing conditions and weather far more easily than many commercial teams, which have become so large over the last five years that they have become difficult to manage. Our member to Sherpa (2:3) and member to guide ratios (3:1), the comforts of our Base Camp, our fresh and nutritious food, and our use of maximum oxygen are details that add up to a far more enjoyable experience and successful climb.

Historically, we have seen that over 30% of climbers on other teams head home long before attempting their summit push on Mt. Everest. This is generally for 3 reasons, all tied to the amount of time teams take “acclimatizing” on the mountain: the multiple trips up and down the mountain during acclimatization cause the climber to reassess the risk and go home, the climber’s weight loss, chronic sickness and progressive weakening at altitude cause them to call off the trip, or a family or work issue at home takes priority. Our goal with a 35-day itinerary is to keep all the necessary acclimatization, training, and mountain preparation, while minimizing the unnecessary waiting and down time of traditional expeditions. Use of the best technology available (including weather forecasting, efficient oxygen systems, and pre- acclimatization in hypoxic tents) and our team’s experience (and their early arrival and late departure to pre-set and clean the mountain’s camps and ropes), allows our team to minimize their time approaching Advanced Base Camp, while maximizing their chances of success.

Alpenglow Expeditions’ logistics, guiding, Base Camp staff, food, and equipment are of the absolute highest level possible. As with all of Alpenglow’s 8,000-meter peak expeditions, Everest is organized and led by IFMGA guide, Adrian Ballinger. Adrian is one of the most recognized guides in the Himalaya, with an impeccable safety record and twelve 8,000 meter peak summits, all while guiding or rope-fixing for guided teams. Adrian has extensive experience organizing complicated logistics for large Himalayan teams (including 6 years as lead guide for one of the Himalaya’s largest companies), as well as countless hours on the mountain rope-fixing with Sherpa, guiding members, and assisting and organizing rescues.

While many downplay the difficulty and hazards of climbing Mount Everest, Alpenglow maintains a deep respect for the nature of this mountain and you will never find us underestimating its potential dangers. We require a significant amount of experience from each of our members to ensure that you will feel comfortable on the peak, both with your own skills and of those of your teammates.

Preparation

  • Altitude Experience

    Climbers must have substantial climbing experience to join our Everest Expedition. Climbers must have climbed at least one 8,000 meter peak prior to joining us on an open enrollment. Climbers must be able to climb technical terrain with an alpine pack on their back. Climbers should also be comfortable with camp craft in high- altitude camps and be able to perform at a high level for multiple days in a row at altitude.

  • Technical Experience

    Must be able to climb moderate rock, ice, and snow terrain, often with an alpine pack on your back. You should be comfortable with camp craft in high-altitude camps, and able to perform at a high level for multiple days in a row at altitude. Prior ascents of multiple 6000 - 7000 meter peaks is strongly recommended.

  • 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.

    • Day 0 — Arrive Chengdu

      Climbers fly into Chengdu, China, arriving by the evening. Team members must stay overnight in Chengdu in order to pick up their paperwork that allows travel in Tibet. Alpenglow arranges for these documents to be sent to the hotel of choice. This is considered a travel day and is not part of the Alpenglow program.

    • Day 1 — Fly Chengdu to Lhasa

      Fly by plane to Lhasa (12,000 feet/3,650 meters). These flights are usually in the morning, getting climbers to Lhasa mid-day. From the airport it is an hour drive into Lhasa, where we have a bit of time to walk around the old city, and enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner.

    • Day 2 — Visit the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastary, drive to Shigatse (12,500 feet/3,800 meters).

      The Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lama, and ancient Jokhang Monastary, are two of Tibet’s most important cultural sites, and imperative to beginning to understand this unique place. After a morning exploring with our local guide, we drive a few hours along the now paved road to Everest, stopping for the night in Shigatse, and our simple but clean hotel.

    • Day 3 — Drive Shigatse to Everest Base Camp (17,000 feet/5,200 meters).

      We continue along the Tibetan Plateau until we begin to see views of Everest. From there we leave the main road and follow the valley to the Rongbuk Monastery. After exploring the monastery and lunch, we continue driving into our base camp, where we settle in.

    • Day 4 — Rest in Everest Base Camp.

      Our camp offers excellent food, comfortable tents, and important amenities (heated dining tents, electricity, etc.). We allow our bodies to continue their acclimatization, and spend the day organizing equipment and logistics.

    • Day 5 — Rest in Everest Base Camp.

      Today we do an acclimatization hike above camp, returning in time for lunch and rest before tomorrow’s move.

    • Day 6 - 10 — Acclimatization at Everest Base Camp (17,000 feet/5,200 meters)

      Our acclimatization day are spent hiking, resting, eating and getting used to life on the mountain. We split the move to Advanced Base Camp in two, today moving 6 miles to Interim Camp. While this camp is simple, we still ensure comfortable sleeping, dining, and excellent food. The location is incredible, surrounded by penitentes (ice towers).

    • Day 11 — Move to Interim Camp (19,000 feet/5,800 meters)

      Today we move 6 miles to Interim Camp. The location is incredible, surrounded by penitentes (ice towers).

    • Day 12 — Interim Camp (19,000 feet/5,800 meters) to Advanced Base Camp (21,300 feet/6,400 meters).

      Six miles of hiking along the moraine and glacier bring us to Advanced Base Camp, our home on the side of the East Rongbuk Glacier. This camp, our main one for the duration of the expedition, is established with as much comfort as possible to balance life in the harsh environment.

    • Day 13-14 — Acclimatize in Advanced Base Camp (21,300 feet/6,400 meters).

      Our bodies need time to acclimatize to over 21,000 feet. We utilize the days re- visiting required fixed rope and climbing skills, taking short acclimatization hikes, and eating and resting in our impressive camp.

    • Day 15 — Advanced Base Camp (21,300 feet/6,400 meters) to North Col Camp (23,000 feet/7,000 meters).

      A 4-6 hour climb takes us from the edge of the East Rongbuk Glacier up progressively steepening snow slopes. The 2,000 foot climb is an excellent time to focus on crampon efficiency and fixed rope technique, and arriving at the North Col is hard-earned.

    • Day 16 — Rest North Col Camp (23,000 feet/7,000 meters).

      Again, a day of rest aids our body in acclimatization.

    • Day 17 — Rest North Col Camp (23,000 feet/7,000 meters).

      We take an acclimatization climb part way along the wide snow ridge towards Camp 2, descending back to North Col Camp for the night.

    • Day 18 — Descend from North Col Camp (23,000 feet/7,000 meters) to Advanced Base Camp (21,300 feet/6,400 meters).

      We descend quickly via rappels and arm-wrapping back to our camp on the side of the glacier. Our bodies will need rest, but now feel strong and able to recover at Advanced Base Camp.

    • Day 19-24 — Descend to Base Camp Rest (17,000 feet/5,200 meters)

      At the minimum we take 5 days of rest in BC before considering a summit push. We descend all the way to Base Camp to make the most of our recovery time before our summit push.

    • Day 24-31 — Summit Window.

      When weather, conditions and health allow, we make our summit push. We return to North Col Camp. From North Col we utilize supplementary oxygen to continue to Camp 2 (24,750 feet/7,500 meters), Camp 3 (25,600 feet/7,900 meters), Camp 4 (27,400 feet/8,300 meters) and on to the summit (29,029 feet/8,848 meters). The climbing above North Col varies, with mostly easy snow and rock ledge walking punctuated by short steeper steps, including the First, Second and Third Steps on the way to the summit. After topping out, we descend as far as possible – North Col Camp or Advanced Base Camp.

    • Day 32 — Descend to Base Camp Rest (17,000 feet/5,200 meters)

      We say goodbye to our mountain staff and hike the 12 miles back to Everest BC. We celebrate with fine alcohol and delicious food. An expedition we'll never forget.

    • Day 33 — Drive Base Camp to Shigatse

      We load our personal gear and selves into jeeps for the ride to the town of Shigatse. A long day of travel takes us across the Tibetan Plateau to our simple but clean hotel in Shigatse.

    • Day 34 — Drive Shigatse to Lhasa

      If our travel went smoothly this is a day for souvenir shopping, or palace viewing. Some team members might be able to fly home this evening, the rest of the team will depart the next day.

    • Day 35 — Depart For Home

      *Please note the above schedule is only one possible scenario. A mountain like Everest requires flexibility, and every year our climb is different.

    • I see that Alpenglow climbs on the North side of the mountain. Why is that?

      For 2015 and beyond, we have moved our operations to the North Side of Everest. With increasing stability in Tibet being contrasted by increasing instability in Nepal, the significantly safer and less crowded route from the North Side is an obvious choice for our teams. Our team’s strengths cater well to the increased remoteness of the North Side. Our Sherpa, guides, and support staff are unanimous that responsible climbing teams must avoid the increasingly unpredictable icefall and politics found on Everest’s South Side. Many members of our team (including Sherpa, cooks, doctor, and guides) have worked extensively on the North Side and make our team one of the most experienced to offer climbs from Tibet.

    • What sort of experience is needed for Everest?

      In order to join our Everest expedition, climbers must have experience on an 8000 meter peak. Many climbers gain this experience by joining our expedition to Cho Oyu. Climbers must have solid ice and snow climbing experience, including the use of ice axe, crampons and fixed rope systems.

    • I really want to climb Mt. Everest, but I don’t have a lot of climbing experience. What do you recommend?

      Climbing Everest is a lifelong goal for many people. Often, an ascent of this peak is the crowning achievement of a climber’s high altitude career. Alpenglow Expeditions has very strict requirements to become a team member on one of our Everest expeditions, and it takes time to gain the necessary skills and experience. This is a multi year project for many people, starting with basic climbing instruction at one of our multi day climbing schools. Afterwards, larger and more complex mountains are attempted, culminating in an expedition to an 8000m peak, which is usually Cho Oyu. After all of this, a climber is now ready to be a team member on an attempt to climb Mt. Everest.

    • What is your guide to climber ratio?

      1:3 maximum guide to climber ratio. All guides are IFMGA qualified or aspirants working towards finishing their certification. This is the lowest member to guide ratio in the Himalaya.

    • What is your Sherpa to climber ratio?

      3:2 Sherpa to climber ratio. Having 3 Sherpa per 2 climbers ensures we have the strength necessary to carry loads, set camps, and assist climbers. All of our Sherpa on Everest have worked with us on many expeditions.

    • Do you have an Expedition Doctor?

      Expedition doctor, Monica Piris, has been on fourteen 8,000-meter peak expeditions. She travels with the group and is in Base Camp throughout the expedition. Dr. Piris also works with each member on his or her pre-acclimatization program.

    • Where do you get your weather forecasts?

      Swiss weather forecasts. Having a quality forecast for Mount Everest maximizes both our safety and our summit success.

    • 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.

    • How much oxygen per climber do you take?

      9 bottles of oxygen per climber. This allows us to use high-flow oxygen sleeping at Camps 2, 3 and 4, and to climb on a higher flow than other expeditions (2L from North Col-C2, and 4L from C2-C3, C3-C4, and C4-Summit-North Col), maximizing safety and success. Our Sherpa also climb and sleep on oxygen, which means they have more strength to focus on you and your ascent.

    • What kind of food will you have?

      Imported and local foods of the highest quality, combined with a Western-trained cook staff. Alpenglow has the best food on the mountain, ensuring your strength and health throughout the expedition.

    • Is WiFi available?

      Unlimited WIFI Internet in Base Camp, Interim Camp, Advanced Base Camp, and North Col Camp. We understand the modern need for technology, and this allows you to stay in touch with home and office via email, text message, and phone at no additional expense.

    • Is the Pre-acclimatization equipment included in the price?

      Pre-acclimatization using Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems. An eight-week rental is included in the expedition price, and use of the system (or equivalent pre- acclimatization) is a requirement for joining our Rapid Ascent expeditions.

    • 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.

Adrian Ballinger

Adrian Ballinger is one of the USA’s premier high-altitude mountain guides, and the only American guide to have both AMGA/IFMGA guide’s certification (one of roughly 150 in the USA) and more than a fifteen summits of 8,000 meter peaks (16 total, including 8 summits of Mt. Everest, 1 without supplemental oxygen). As founder of Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian has been guiding full-time for over twenty years and has led over 125 international climbing expeditions on 6 continents.

In 2011 he, along with 2 Sherpa partners, became the first people to summit three 8,000 meter peaks in only 3 weeks (Everest twice and Lhotse once). He is also the first person to ski Manaslu (the 8th tallest mountain in the world) from its summit, and the first American to successfully ski two 8,000-meter peaks. These personal successes are combined with Adrian’s passion for guiding and teaching others. Adrian has led expeditions where more than 100 clients have successfully summited Everest, Lhotse (the 4th tallest mountain in world), Cho Oyu (6th tallest) and Manaslu (8th tallest).

Whether on skis, in rock shoes, or mountain boots, Adrian thrives on sharing the big mountains with friends and clients, and helping them to build their skills and experience to be successful on the world’s most beautiful mountains. In the coming seasons Adrian plans on continuing to enjoy big-mountain skiing, climbing, and guiding in the Himalaya, South America, Europe, and of course closer to home in Squaw Valley, CA. Adrian is a sponsored athlete for Eddie Bauer, La Sportiva, Blizzard, Tecnica, Hiball Energy, and Favre Leuba.

Learn more about Adrian at adrianballinger.com

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

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

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    Mount Everest North Side Rapid Ascent Expedition