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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!

Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page.  We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date.  We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”

Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours.  Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber.  Above all, have fun and dream big!

Everest 2015 – Update from Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Hello from 17,600 feet!
Scott and I arrived at the Mountain Trip Mount Everest Base Camp on the 14th of April after hiking up the Khumbu for nine days. We stayed in Namche Bazzar, Dingboche and Lukla for two nights each, taking advantage of doing some fun “casual” day hikes.  This not only helps with acclimatizing but they enabled us to get amazing views of some of the Himalaya giants including Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu, as well as many other beautiful rugged peaks and hanging glaciers.
We had great weather until we reached Lobuche, where we woke up to a foot of new snow on a few inches of old rotten crud that is always fun to walk on..!  Since then, we’ve had light snow showers and a bit of wind in the afternoons. When the sun comes out in the morning, the snow quickly melts only to be replaced by fresh snow in the evening.
The snow has slowed the progress of rope and ladder fixing in the icefall and above Camp One.
Today the 18th of April is the one year anniversary of the tragic avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall that took 16 Sherpa lives, something about which we are all very conscious and respectful. Trying to avoid a similar accident, the Khumbu Ice Doctors (the Sherpas that maintain the fixed lines and ladders through the icefall) made a route on the right side of the icefall trying to avoid the seracs on the lower slopes of Everest, the side opposite of the one on which the avalanche hit last year.
Out of respect for the fallen Sherpas who worked hard to make it possible for many of us to achieve our dream of climbing Everest, no one is climbing above Base Camp today.
Tomorrow, only the Ice Doctors will climb up, as they affix ropes and replace ladders that might have broken due to the ever shifting ice in the icefall.  On the 20th, the plan is for our Sherpas to climb up, carrying loads to establish Camps One and Two.  On the 21st or 22nd, Scott and I will head up to spend three to four nights above 21,000 feet to acclimatize.  After that first rotation at Camp 1 and 2, we will rest at base camp for a few days before going up to Camp 2 once again before making a day trip to Camp 3 at 23,800 feet.
When not on the mountain, Scott and I spend the days walking around Base Camp socializing and meeting other climbers from around the world.  It’s truly an international crowd, with 300+ climbers from around the world. Some days we will climb up to Camp 1 on neighboring Pumori or work on our climbing skills in the lower icefall to prepare for the climb up to Camp 1.

Please check back as we will try to up date the blog as often as possible.
Cheers,
Jacob Schmitz, Everest Base Camp

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A couple of snowy days at base camp

By: Mountain Trip

The Island Peak climbers, David and Alisha, left base camp yesterday with Dawa Sherpa on their way to Dingboche, and after a night at our favorite lodge, the Snow Lion, they’ll head up to the Island Peak base camp.

Scott and Jacob have been spending their time settling in to base camp and acclimating to their 17,000 ft home before heading higher up the mountain.   They’ve practiced climbing ladders and are moving through the ice with their crampons on, so they should be pretty efficient by the time they are ready to move up to Camp 1 in a couple of days.

Jacob, Scott, and DaOngchhu at the Mountain Trip Everest Base Camp

Jacob, Scott, and DaOngchhu at the Mountain Trip Everest Base Camp

The Mountain Trip Team having their Puja Ceremony on a snowy morning at Everest BC

 

Our Sherpa team is carrying loads up to Camp 1 and Camp 2 today to establish those camps for the climbers.  Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa guides last season, so it will be a day to remember and our team will not be climbing tomorrow.

The route is established through the icefall and has been getting plenty of traffic by the early teams already.  There are more ladders and the terrain is slightly more technical this season as the route has moved out to the middle of the icefall a bit in an effort to avoid the more avalanche prone areas on the climbers left under the W. Shoulder of Everest.

Here’s a great image of the route and a comparison between where it has been in previous years.

Everest Route Photo

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Team Settling in to Everest Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

They spent the day at Everest Base Camp enjoying the comforts of tent living and going over some climbing/mountaineering skills in the ice nearby camp.   Tomorrow David and Alisha will start back down the valley and towards Island Peak for their climb, while Scott and Jacob acclimatize to the high altitude tent city they will base out of for the next month and a half.   They were welcomed into base camp by our amazing team of Sherpa who have been establishing the camp on the rocky moraines of the lower Khumbu glacier.  We have a big comfortable dome tent for dining and hanging out with carpeted floors, heat, solar powered lights and a coffee grinder for a fresh cup in the morning.   It’s been a bit snowy the last few days, and that is expected to continue for another day or so before the clear skies come back over the Himalaya.

Here’s Jacob from Base Camp!

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Everest Base Camp Today!

By: Mountain Trip

They arrived at Everest Base Camp today!  They have moved into their tents at Base Camp and are settling into the big dome tent for dinner tonight.   We should get a call with a dispatch from base camp later tonight, but spoke with Jacob earlier and they are doing great!

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Everest Team in the village of Lobuche

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob’s call today is pretty garbled due to the spotty phone service up there, but they are in the village of Lobuche and excited to be heading up to Everest Base Camp tomorrow!  They are all doing great and enjoying the journey through the beautiful Khumbu Valley.  We should get much better phone service tomorrow when they continue up the valley past the final village of Gorak Shep, and on to Everest Base Camp.

Here’s the garbled call from Jacob.

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New Audio Recording

By: Mountain Trip

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2015 Everest and Island Peak Teams – Rest Day at Dingboche

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in from the team’s second day at Dingboche, a village located near the confluence of the Imja and Khumbu rivers, the latter originating from the Khumbu Glacier on the south flank of Mount Everest.  Everyone is doing great and they took a planned rest and acclimatization day to help their bodies acclimatize to the thinning air.  They hiked up to over 17,000′ to assist in the transition.

It sounds like French pastries and lattes are part of their acclimatization program???

The connection was a bit spotty and there is a bit of wind noise, so Jacob called in a second post, largely reiterating the same news.  I’ll leave both posted, as they are slightly different.

Here’s Jacob!

Post #1: 

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Post #2: 

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Posted in 2015 Everest Expedition, Everest | Tagged | 1 Comment

Trekking up the Khumbu and the Tengboche Monastery

By: Mountain Trip

They left the village of Namche this morning after a couple of nights there, and continued their trek up the Khumbu valley past the Tengboche Monastery, and on to the village of Deboche where they will spend the night.  It’s been beautiful weather for the team so far, and they are enjoying the journey.

Here’s Jacob checking in from Deboche:

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Above Namche with Everest and Ama Dablam in the background

Above Namche with Everest and Ama Dablam in the background

Posted in 2015 Everest Expedition, Everest | Tagged | 1 Comment

Everest Team in Namche

By: Mountain Trip

They had a nice leisurely trek this morning up to Namche Bazaar, the hub of activity in the Khumbu region.   This is the biggest village they will pass through on their journey, and it is a beautiful spot to take an extra day to acclimatize and enjoy the bakeries that Namche is famous for.   They’ll spend the night tonight in a nice lodge overlooking Namche, and spend tomorrow hiking around and getting their first views of Mount Everest!

Here’s Jacob with the first of what will be many audio dispatches left by the team,

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Flying to Lukla!

By: Mountain Trip

The team flew to Lukla this morning from Kathmandu and have begun the trek up to Everest Base Camp.   It’s a beautiful flight from the Kathmandu valley up to the little village of Lukla on a hillside in the foothills of the Himalaya.   They will begin trekking for just a few hours after they arrive and will spend the night in a lodge in the village of Phakding tonight.   Jacob called from Lukla, and they had a bag missing for a while after the flight, but they tracked it down and they are on their way.   Everyone is excited to be heading into the mountains and breathing some fresh mountain air!

 

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Everest Team in Kathmandu

By: Mountain Trip

Hello from Nepal!

The team is here and the bags have arrived!  We are excited to get going, but are trying to enjoy Kathmandu before flying up to the mountains and beginning the trek.

The team here is:

Scott Holder from California,  Everest Expedition

Alisha and David Germer from Alaska,  Everest Base Camp and Island Peak Climb.

Jacob Schmitz vagabond guide but most recently storing equipment in Bend, Oregon.  Expedition Leader.
We have been in Kathmandu for a few days sight seeing and enjoying the busy and culturally beautiful capital of Nepal.   After gear checks and an supplemental oxygen clinic from our mask supplier, Ted Atkins from TopOut. We are ready and excited to fly to Lukla tomorrow and start our trek to Everest!

Its going to take us around nine to ten days to acclimatize and arrive to EBC (Everest Base Camp) well rested. It’s an amazing hike up the Khumbu with incredible views of the Himalaya. One of my favorite hikes in the world.
We will be checking in often and updating the Dispatches to let all of our friends and loved ones back at home know of our progress.
Cheers,

Jacob Schmitz

Welcome to the Yak and Yeti Hotel!

Welcome to the Yak and Yeti Hotel!

Oxygen class from the man who invented the TopOut system.

Oxygen class from the man who invented the TopOut system.

photo

 

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Mount Everest Expedition 2015

By: Mountain Trip

Mountain Trip is excited to be returning to Mount Everest again in 2015 for a private expedition with one of our favorite climbers, Scott Holder!   Our Mount Everest Expedition 2015 will be led by Jacob Schmitz who is returning to the Himalaya for his 6th 8000 meter expedition and his second time on Mount Everest.

Everest slack line

Jacob Slack lining at Everest Base Camp

We are really proud of the Everest Program that we’ve developed and look forward to returning to the highest peak on the planet!

Our climbing Sherpa team will be a veteran crew who have all been working with Mountain Trip for years and have several summits of Mount Everest.

DaOngchhu Sherpa

Da Ongchhu Sherpa

Our lead climbing Sherpa once again this season will be DaOngchhu Sherpa.  DaOngchhu has been on the last 5 Mountain Trip Everest teams, and joined us on a Denali expedition in Alaska this last summer.   Samden and Da Nuru have both climbed with us several times and provide a huge amount of experience and really power the expedition.

It was a difficult year on Everest last season, and we were fortunate to not have any of our team involved in the avalanche last year.  There are going to be some significant, and other more subtle changes to the approach of climbing through the Khumbu Icefall this season that we all hope can prevent another such tragedy.

The team will be meeting in Kathmandu on the 4th of April, and we will have regular updates to our expedition dispatches as the trip gets underway including audio posts from the team, and pictures and video when we are able!

 

Samden Sherpa

Samden Sherpa

DaNuru Sherpa

DaNuru Sherpa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODD Talks – with Jacob Schmitz

By: Mountain Trip

Mountain Trip seeks the best guides in the business. Our guides are well traveled, highly knowledgeable, professional and awesome people. But, don’t take it from us, get to know our guides for yourself!

Jacob Schmitz

The irrepressible Jacob Schmitz on the summit of Everest in 2012.

Jacob Schmitz chose to become a mountain guide in the late 90s while working in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. He loved playing and working outside, and his passion was climbing so it naturally made sense. Jacob spends 250+ days each year on expeditions; that’s a lot of time! So much in fact, that he hasn’t been home for Christmas in over 15 years. Mountain Trip Director Todd Rutledge caught up with Jacob to get all the dirt on life, guiding expeditions and his love of the outdoors when he passed through Ophir, CO last week.

Todd: What relevant experience did you have when you started guiding?

Jacob: Since I was a little kid, I would go on camping trips with my family. When I was 12 I started climbing and quickly became very passionate about the sport. In my 20’s, I worked so I could climb and travel, so I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Then, I worked as an assistant for years under some great guides and tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible from every expedition. I owe so much to all my mentors.

Todd: What sort of courses, education or certifications have you taken along the way?

Jacob:  From the time I began guiding, I have always held the WMI Wilderness First Responder. I have an ARIE Level 2  Avalanche Certification, and hope to take the Level 3 in the near future. I have also taken AMGA courses along the way to help with more technical rock and alpine guiding.

Todd: For how long and where have you guided?

Jacob: I have been guiding for 15 years all around the world. Some of the more notable places I have been are: Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and Antarctica. In 2013 I completed the “7 Summits” while guiding,  that was a great way to see the world. I mostly work on high altitude peaks. I’ve done 60+ 6,000 meter peaks, and this year will be my 5th trip to an 8,000 meter peak.

Everest slack line

Slack lining at Everest Base Camp

Todd: What is the most rewarding part of the job?

Jacob: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a team member’s face when they summit. It feels great to see someone succeed, after they put so much hard work and energy into a goal that is not always guaranteed.

Todd: How do you return to the same venue over and over, yet still keep it fresh for your clients?

Jacob:: Returning to a mountain is a good thing! You get to know the area, where to shop, eat, take the team for day trips and explore. When you become comfortable on a big mountain and get to know the weather patterns and terrain, you are able to make good decisions about moving to a higher camp or summiting.

Also, each team is unique, and no two trips are alike. Being with like-minded people in the mountains is always fresh and exciting.

Todd: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are considering climbing a big, cold mountain?

Jacob:  I always try to stay as organized as possible. When I’m in my tent I know where my boots are and that they won’t fill up with snow. If I need to go out to work on the tents or put up snow walls I know exactly where my warm gloves and goggles are. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best but most importantly enjoy all of it, the good and the bad. It’s all part of being in the mountains. Sometimes you have to have a sense of humor when the wind won’t stop, for days…

Vinson tent

Yucking it up in the tent on Mount Vinson this past season

Todd: What was your first concert?

Jacob: I’m not sure… My parents took me to a few while they went on Harley rides.  I remember a Reggae Sun Splash at the Greek Theater in Los Angles was a lot of fun! I was pretty young, around seventeen.

Todd: What do you do for fun in your spare time?

Jacob: More and more, I’ve been able to travel to a lot of amazing places. I’m a history buff so I really enjoy seeing amazing historic cities in Europe or ruins in Asia and South America. It’s a small world filled with wonderful people, and spectacular places!

Todd: Any parting thoughts?

Jacob: There are still so many places I would like guide and go to travel. New Zealand is in my future and I would like to return to Peru and Bolivia. I love each and every moment in the mountains. Guiding has allowed me to follow my dreams and explore the world, I’m forever grateful for that.

Todd: Who is you favorite boss? ;-)

Jacob: You are Bill!  Oh wait – this is Todd Talks…. Of course you are Todd!  Come on – I meant Laura!

Stay tuned to meet more of our guides!

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Aconcagua Team is Back in Mendoza!

By: Mountain Trip

Howdy All!  We apologize for the delay in posting, but we had a server issue that kept us offline for a couple of days.

The team descended from high camp on the 12th and arrived at the Plaze de Mulas base camp a bit pooped, but happy after having stood on the summit on February 11th.  The descent is a whopper, dropping close to 6000′ from Camp Cholera to the warmth and thick air of the upper Horcones Valley on the west side of the mountain.

Today, the team sorted their equipment and packed loads for mules to carry out the Horcones.  They then started the long, dusty hike down the valley, hiking about 15 miles in about 7 hours, and descending another 5000′.  They arrived at the trailhead, where they were met by our friends from Fernando Grajales Expeditions, who picked up the group and facilitated their transfer back to Mendoza.

It is Carnival in Mendoza this weekend, which is one of the biggest parties and tourist weekends of the year.  We had challenging time finding accommodations, but the team is now showered and sleeping soundly at the Sheraton Hotel.

We will post some more details about their climb, along with some photos from the team in the next day or two.  Until then, we would like to once again extend a hearty “WELL DONE!”

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Aconcagua Summit!!!

By: Mountain Trip

Lisa called in from the summit of Aconcagua!

The team awoke early in the morning, and departed from high camp around 5:30 in the morning.  They worked their way up the north ridge of the mountain, first climbing directly up it, then along the east side, before cresting the ridge to make their way up the west side of the peak.  Snow fell lightly on the team, but the winds were also light, so they kept climbing.

Congratulations to everyone!!

Here’s Lisa, calling in from 22,841 feet above South America!

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aconcagua

Looking at Aconcagua from the southwest. The massive South Face is in the shade, with the summit being the right hand high point in the image.

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | 5 Comments

January 27 Aconcagua Team is at High Camp!!

By: Mountain Trip

Lance called in a nice post from 20,000′ on Aconcagua.  The team decided to push up today in light snow, but moderate temperatures.  They packed up camp at Camp 2 and made the 4.5 hour hike up to Camp Cholera (aka White Rocks), on the north ridge of the mountain.  Climbers often tend to use rather dark humor, and the moniker Camp Cholera is a fine example!  This is the first camp on the mountain where they have to melt snow to get their water for drinking and cooking.  If you don’t put in the additional effort to get clean snow, which can often require that you hike a ways, then you could experience Cholera-like symptoms.

The forecast is for light to moderate winds, so the plan is to awaken early in the dark hours of the morning, eat, hydrate, and load up for a summit bid.

Best of luck to all the climbers!   Here’s Lance:

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January 27 Aconcagua – team waiting at Camp 2

By: Mountain Trip

Dave called in from 18,000′ as the team spent the evening hours in his and Fermin’s tent, while a bit of snow fell and the wind blew outside.  The wind that had been predicted has materialized, and the team is hunkered down, waiting for it to slacken.  I spoke with Fermin today and he said everyone is in good spirits, and they have plenty of food and fuel, so they are in no rush to move higher.

Tomorrow’s forecast looks better, so the team will awaken and watch to see how the day shapes up.  If it looks like the winds are lessening up high, they will probably move to high camp at some point during the day.  The 11th looks like it could be a fine summit day, so right now, the plan is to try for the top on Wednesday.

Here’s Dave!

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Jan 27 Aconcagua Team – Carries to High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Sophie called in from Camp 2 on the Ameghino Valley Route of Aconcagua, after the team hiked up to 6000 meters today.  Camp 2 is on the east flank of the mountain, and is a fairly sheltered camp at an elevation of about 18,000′ (5490 meters).  The team has slowed their rate of ascent at this camp, in part because of a high wind event that had been forecasted for the upper mountain, with predicted wind speeds of over 60 mph.  They are in a great position at this camp, have plenty of food, fuel and time, so they decided to take their time and see how the weather shapes up, rather than move high and try to get ahead of the wind.

Today, they went for a hike up to the site of their next camp, located at just about 20,000′.  They moved well, and took their time so as not to overly tax their bodies at such high elevations.  The benefits of taking the hike are twofold: they could move some food and fuel up to the next camp and they pushed their bodies a bit by moving high, while allowing themselves the benefit of sleeping at an elevation at which they are largely acclimatized, back at Camp 2.

Aconcagua

Fermin Avila, hiking to High Camp in January 2014

aconcagua

Two teams hiking the last 30 minutes to high camp. located just over the craggy ridge line.ere i

Here is Sophie!

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | 2 Comments

Camp 2 Rest Day for Aconcagua Team

By: Mountain Trip

Lance called in this evening to report on their windy rest day at Camp 2 today.   The skies were clear, but the wind was blowing at Camp 2, but the team enjoyed beautiful views, and it sounds like they are still enjoying the food that our lead guide Fermin is cooking up.   They are doing great and will hope to climb to high camp tomorrow if the weather looks good.

Here’s Lance with the evening dispatch from Camp 2 on Aconcagua.

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | 2 Comments

Aconcagua Team at Camp 2

By: Mountain Trip

The team moved up to Camp 2 today and they are still moving strong and enjoying spectacular weather.   The weather may be changing a bit in the next few days, but this evening at camp 2 they are enjoying the views and eating steaks!   From Camp 2 they get the first really good views of the upper mountain, the Polish glacier, and are high enough to really see across the Andes.   They plan to acclimatize and recover tomorrow and strategize about moving to high camp in the next few days after looking at the weather.

Here’s Lisa with the evening dispatch from Camp 2.

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