Website- Peak Freak Expeditions

Friday, 31 October 2014

Lobuche East Summit Success!

Tim just called in to say....

At 06:30 the entire who made it to the final third Peak Freak team summited the false summit and at 08:00hrs NPT they stood on
Our solar cooker
top of the true summit and are now just below the summit enjoying a bite to eat. They're pretty tired and happy with their accomplishments. They'll be down at base camp in about 3 hours from now.

Romano made it up and summited. The rest at Lobuche village served him well.

Karsung Sherpa, Desh and crew have the soup on on the solar cooker heating up for their arrival.

The past three years on Everest we've been using this to supplement the use of fuel as part of our green theme. We haven't seen any other teams using it yet and hope it will be of the norm in the future. It just makes sense. Tim first saw the one being used near Gorak Shep and made a replica of it. Now they have a more upscale one.

 The final summit of Peak Freaks Triple Crown 2014" a job well done.  Photos will coming out sometime tomorrow when they start moving down the valley and get on wifi.

Congratulations team!

Triple Crown Mountaineering Course

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cheyne Stokes at Altitude

Peak Freaks once again enjoyed a day of instruction at the base of Lobuche Peak. Rope rescue and
other survival techniques were rehearsed.

Romano from Australia has beens struggling with a condition related to altitude known as Cheyne Stokes, it's inhibiting his ability to sleep soundly. I've experience this myself at altitude and typically a very small percent of our participants will - especially on Everest at Camp 3 if they are not supplemented with oxygen. For that reason we supplement all our Everest climbers at Camp 3 to get the full rest they need pre-summit push.

Tim and Romano discussed his options as he's not been able to sleep for several days and as a result is losing much needed energy for the summit push. He decided to retreat to the village of Lobuche to enjoy two full nights sleep before the summit bid tomorrow.

Cheyne Stokes are related to low oxygen saturation and for some who suffer from this , their body is alerted to gasp for air and this reaction jolts the climber awake each time he or she starts to relax as the result of taking in less oxygen. Or for some, they don't wake but their tent mate is kept awake listening to irregular breathing patterns of the person next to them. They will sound as though they've quit breathing and then gasp but never wake themselves from their slumber.  If this goes on for more than 2 or 3 nights it can be the end of a climbers ascent higher as the only cure is to retreat, spend more time at the elevation they were last comfortable and gradually try to ascend again. For some they can hit the wall each time at the same elevation no matter how long they are there, and try.

Another thing we see on high altitude climbs is a condition that has nothing to do with altitude. It's claustrophobia. Anyone that has not experienced life on a major expedition that requires sleeping in tents for multiple days may learn something new about themselves. Something they wouldn't have known till they tried it. This condition is more common than most would think. We've already lost a few participants on this expedition at this stage of the climb. Once again this can be for some- the"boot" in boot camp.

These are two very good reasons to join this program and spend only $7K instead of $20K or $50K to find out your body chemistry just doesn't work for you up here or expedition style climbing is not for you before making the big investment in time away and money.


High camp tomorrow, rest, hangout, summit push at some gaud awful hour in the middle of the night.


Wind will be the highest it is this week and Tim said that is exactly what he was hoping for. Just another reality test of what to expect on big mountains such as Everest and what it feels like to climb in harsh conditions. It won't be that bad, but they will get a bit of a simulation. 

Stay tuned!

"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Lobuche East Route and Weather information

Tim called in a quick namaste as they were coming down Kala Pattar at 07:30 NPT yesterday. They
Lobuche East

got their morning sunrise shots and were on their way to Lobuche base camp where they'd be now all tucked in.

They are obviously getting spoiled living in the comforts of camp. He grumbled about having a bad sleep last night because a trekker next door in the teahouse where they lodged, was snoring. He said he couldn't wait to get back into his tent.

That's just some of the joys of this expedition: Small scale, off the beaten track, moderate altitudes for the Himalayas, learning some mountaineering skills and about staying safe,  good and clean cooking at base camp and your own space to sleep at night in your tent, quiet and with great views. All of the above is why we created these trips.

Not to forget that it's a great tool for climbing big mountains. Here's a testimony that just came in from a past participant that I thought I'd share.

"If you aspire to climb Everest there is no better training program that I am aware of that puts you right on the spot. Tim and his professional crew puts you to the test in the exact environment you will eventually meet on the big E.  A complete and good set-up of camps  is all important in high altitude climbing, Peak Freaks is second to none when it comes to quality camps.
Lars, Norway, Summited Everest 2012."
Ha en fin dag

Med vennlig hilsen
Lars Haugen

Tomorrow Lobouche East? either a rest day or begin their ascent. Not sure what their plan is, I'll update when I hear.


There are two distinct summits on Lobuche Peak- Lobuche East (6119m/20,75m) and Lobuche West (6145m/20,016ft.) Although a continuous ridge connects them there is a sharp gap and a considerable distance between them. Lobuche is an attractive summit, offering a variety of existing routes and a wide scope for new lines. Seen from Pheriche, the dark triangle of its rocky East Face rises above the moraines of the Khumbu Glacier to an icy skyline. The skyline forms the South Ridge, the junction of the East Face with the glaciated South-West Face and the line of the normal route of the ascent. This in turn leads to the summit ridge running northwest from the top of the East Face through several small summits to the East Peak.


All holding just fine, clear in the morning a few skiffs of snow in the afternoon. It looks like they'll get their climb in before the wind starts to impact the area if they push it. The seasonal high winds that increase the windchill factor is in the forecast. If they get going earlier rather than later, they'll get their summit in under the wire.

Looking good!

Triple Crown Expedition

Monday, 27 October 2014

Triple Crown- Photo Upload

Great! We finally get some photos of the group who are now in Gorak Shep for the night after crossing the Konga La pass and grabbing that photo opp at the entrance of Everest Base Camp.

They came over the pass from Pokalde while the animals went down Chukung way and back to Pheriche because the pass was a bit too icy for them. They'll have camp setup late tomorrow afternoon  at the base of Lobuche and in the meantime the team is going to go up Kala Pattar tomorrow to catch some views and photos of the Khumbu Icefall, Everest North and South, Lhotse and Nuptse. Afterwards they'll retreat and make their way to Lobuche base camp.

Nothing more to report other then they are doing great and it's life as normal in the Himalayas for our team.  That's why Tim loves this climb: no crowds of people, off the beaten path and no politics. Climbing as it should be!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Not sleepless in Pokalde base camp

Team reports having a great day working more rock and ice skills tuning up for Lobuche East (6119m-20,075ft) in two days time. The tired team is all checked into their tents early tonight and getting some serious shut eye.

Our base camp trek team members are in Lukla tonight celebrating their last with Ang Nima and crew and are hoping for clear skies tomorrow morning for flights in and out of Kathmandu on schedule. The morning skies have been beautiful with an occasional skiff of snow just 1 or 2 cm here and there, nothing significant. Most of the precipitation appears to be hanging lower in the valley so it is possible Lukla could experience a few hiccups getting flights in and out on schedule. Nothing big in the horizon that would warrant trapping them there for days on end that can, and has happened in the past.

Tomorrow the TC team will pack up and head over to Lobuche base camp and prepare for their final ascent on this adventure. Everyone is holding strong and having a lot of fun.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Adventure Full Circle

Photo of Triple Crown climber John Forestell attempting to lift a porters basket.

We first met John with his mother and father two sister from Lethbridge, AB, Canada while on a Peak Freak EBC trek in 2001, he was only 8 years old. He still holds the record for our youngest trekker. 

He's come full circle returning to Nepal to climb some of those peaks that impressed him at such a young age. 

We think that's very cool. 


Friday, 24 October 2014

SUMMIT SUCCESS Pokalde 5806m

Tim just called in from the summit with the entire team at approximately 10:00hrs NPT.

Everyone is cheering!!!!!!!    He said there wasn't much room on the summit for all of them but they're squeezed in tight to for photos that we'll hopefully see sometime soon.

He said its been a great climb and they are all having so much fun. They are on their way down now to celebrate and then tomorrow make a move on over the Lobuche East, the final climb of the three peaks.

Congratulations team!!!

"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

Thursday, 23 October 2014

EBC Team on top Kala Pattar right now!!!

Tim just checked in 07:00hrs NPT. Everyone is sleeping in this morning at Pokalde base camp except for him and Ang Karsung and Paulden who he says are giving me a big wave.

Our Everest Base Camp trek group are on Kala Pattar right now getting the sunrise on a beautiful morning.


Today they team will be getting out on some rock and ice. Tim said John Forestell in particular is super stoked for this part of the trip. He's fully recovered now and is wired for energy.

Tomorrow the plan is to make their summit push on Pokalde, retreat and spend the night there at camp and then tackle objective number three- Lobuche East-the grand finale .


I see a light dusting of snow probably 1 to 3 cm of snow that won't cause any avalanche concerns but the view may not be as good as it can be from the top of Pokalde.

That's it for now.....  here's a little video I found from someone showing the view panorama from atop Kala Pattar for those who've not seen it before.

Stay tuned for the next summit push.

"Tripel Crown Mountaineering Course"

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The "BOOT" in Boot Camp

Everyone had a great dinner and sleep last night post Island Peak summit push. Unfortunately a few
people had a run in with a gastro infection that's very common in the this part of the world. It's thought to have been picked up somewhere in the valley in one of the lodges. Dang!! as hard as we try to keep it at bay it's just so hard to control in this part of the world. We had success last season asking everyone to bring their own mug and clean it themselves instead of using the lodges cups but that didn't seem to work this time.  The good news is that it's passing through those infected quickly as everyone has recovered and is on for Pokalde. A few struggled yesterday on the summit push and only one person is calling it a climb and heading home today.

Climbing Island Peak is typically the "Boot" in our Boot Camp, usually we lose a few after the first climb to 6189m (20,305ft) but the team is holding strong and moving forward.

The team was having breakfast when Tim checked in just now at 06:50hrs (NPT). Camp was being unassembled around them and once they're done eating they'll be on their way to Pokalde, the second objective on this expedition.

Their plan is take the Kongma La pass at 5200m instead of retreating back down to Dingboche. A
few days ago when Tim checked it was plugged with snow and ice from the cyclone spin off but it appears to be all good to go now so they're going for it and will be checking into Pokalde base camp at about 14:00hrs (NPT).  They'll probably rest a day, work on more climbing skills and then head up to high camp and summit early morning the next day. I'll keep you posted with the plan as they proceed.


Bright sunshine, t-shirts and sunscreen.

So there ya have it!

"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Summit Success- One down- Two more to go!

Ok, Tim didn't bother to call from the summit, instead he called from the glacier where the team is now. They will be pulling in to camp really soon.  Congratulations to everyone who participated in this climb! Good work!


1. Sahil Bhagat - US/India
2. Craig Falkenhagen -USA
3. Philip Stover- Canada
4. Maria Granberg - Sweden
5. Adam Mason- UK
6. Derek Jarvis- Canada
7. Dekel Berenson- Israel
8. Tim Rippel - Canada

Over and out till tomorrow,

"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

Island Peak Summit- ETA

The team should be topping out in about 3 to 4 hours from now. That would be around 23:00hrs (PDT).

The weather is perfect for a summit push. Clear skies, wind around  8 to 10 km/hr. Temperatures hovering at -12c with a wind chill factor around -18c. 

I see a scant of snow in the forecast for tonight so camp will be all cozy when they return. 

Ang Karsung prepped tea and lunch for them and took  it up on the route for them yesterday so they're being well nourished. 

They're busy right now prepping the celebration dinner for when everyone is back at camp and lunch to take up again for their trip down. The climbers can easily carry for themselves but our staff are keeners to get out of camp and join in the fun. 

Stay tuned!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Staying Safe in the Himalayas 101

I was recently asked about a quote I made to the Globe and Mail stating that adventure enthusiasts coming to Nepal need to take more responsibility.  Tim and I stand behind that 100%. The Himalayas are some of the most impressive peaks in the world rich in culture and the lure of extreme adventure is on the rise. The risks are definitely underestimated and sadly not known to too many who venture this way. It's no secret Nepal has been experiencing growing pains in tourism and with it being its mainstay everyone wants a piece of it.

When the rescues started on Annapurna this past week, I got news that the helicopter pilots where reporting dead bodies scattered on the routes. I hope it's now safe to say that they've all been recovered by now.  I didn't want to alarm people until there was time for rescues to come in.  I also wanted a better understanding of the situation and what went on. Now stories are coming out of there and are they gut wrenching and disturbing to say the least.  I have been sick to my stomach for the loss of so many lives in one event and so shortly after the Everest disaster that took 16 Sherpa climbing guides lives. Mountain climbers ascending peaks such as Everest are aware and accept the risks and the fact that they may not come back because of the Khumbu icefall's uncontrollable icefall hazards. They survive blizzards at altitude because they are roped in and have tents for shelter, these people had nothing but the clothes they were wearing that day.

Octobers victims were on what they thought was a harmless and relatively safe high altitude walk and the workers were just doing their semi-annual job. I'm spilling my guts in this blog now because I feel it's important information to anyone playing in an uncontrolled mountain environment to take responsibility in their own hands as well as Nepal to avoid this happening again. An uncontrolled environment means there's no one clearing the way to make safe passage, things like blasting potential avalanche hazards, no snow cats pushing snow out of your way, no safety patrol and no one closing the park entrances due to hazardous conditions or making snow pack observations.

Mountains of the Himalayas are remote and hostile environments. To have a teahouse at your disposal when needed is actually quite unique to Nepal's popular trekking and climbing routes, never mind having the privilege of so many people eagerly awaiting to carry your bags for you. Majestic routes are accessible to anyone with two feet and heart beat to gain access up high in the Himalayas by foot into unforgiving territory. When things get bad at altitude, they go really bad fast. At altitude the human body's circulation is affected causing your extremities to get cold quicker than they would at lower elevations. Your energy level drops, you feel like there's cement in your boots and like someone has put a pillow over your face.  In some cases good judgement is impaired, lethargy and confusion comes to the mix. Good leadership and solid decision making makes the difference between life and death and prevention should always be priority.

Questions you should ask yourself when considering a mountain adventure in the Himalayas: 

If something were to go wrong are you prepared to look after yourself? what if something happened to your guide, would you be able to make decision for yourself? Are you comfortable with that? What if you need to help someone else? could you do that and not put your own life at risk?

Then there's the things adventures here should most certainly wonder about: Were the risks explained to me and how would they be managed. Is my leader experienced in this region? Have they been to altitude before?  Do they have rescue protocol, do they share knowledge of what will happen in an emergency, what about avalanche awareness and knowledge in terrain management? Do they have communication equipment? are they checking in to a base to get weather reports? Are they clothed properly for inclement weather? Do they hold local guiding credentials? Professional guides are paid to manage risk and not just host or carry your bag for you. Sadly mistakes can be made right at the beginning of planning your trip in prevention.

Big one..... do you trust their judgement? If not....... you shouldn't be there. 

Local politics can also affect your experience. Nepalese citizens want to take the trekking and climbing industry out of the hands of foreign guide outfitters and that can be good thing, but sadly they are losing ground fast. There are regulations as to who can form a company in Nepal in tourism. Agents are required to be a member of TAAN the trekkers association and hire NMA certified guides and insure them.  However in todays world where online offers are in the hundreds combined with illegal street tour vendors on every corner in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepals reputation is being damaged when safety standards are being bypassed.

In Nepal or abroad, it's possible for anyone to take a template for a website off the Internet, add a few photos, append an email address as the contact and attract customers.  There are many companies cropping up in Kathmandu whose owners haven't even been trekking before, never mind addressing safety considerations. Sometimes travel agents or organizers from countries aboard will hire someone from Facebook solicitation or surfing the Internet. More often than not they've never met the people they have engaged in business with. This is risky business.

We are also hearing about people who find a "great deal" surfing or social networks. When, they arrive, the organizer says he now needs twice the amount of money quoted for all kinds of reasons misrepresenting their offer, or changed the proposed itinerary altogether because they didn't ever have the means to secure required park permits, or they quoted too cheap just to get you in their grasp, upon your arrival the plan has been changed altogether. Some people will walk from those situations looking for the price they were quoted elsewhere and dig an even deeper hole with street vending tour guides.

We've witnessed ill prepared guides huddle around the stove all night keeping everyone awake in the lodge because they haven't been provided a sleeping bag by their employer or a proper jacket. The lodge owners shaking their heads not knowing what to do to prevent this.  It's dangerous practice to come here and contribute to this way of doing business and it's harmful to Nepal's tourism industry.

Another sad example of a bad deal. Headlines;  2012'- Everest- Canadian woman dies - reports revealed she booked with an operator who appeared on the scene overnight, no one had heard of them before. She was led to her death while the owner of the company summited and then proceeded to pass her on his way down, she was already in trouble and he made no efforts to turn her around or offer assistance. He walked away as she begged for him to not let her die. It's all good for the operator, he made a lot of money off her and got to the top of Everest for a photo and his name in the summit records and with zero accountability.  The scary part is that he was more than likely up there again in 2013 under a new name with new customers who found him on the Internet featuring his summit photo highlighting " book with me!!! "    

Another scenario we are seeing is people who were lucky to have trekked in good hands previously,  return home with a name and email address of a local trekking guide they met on their trip and who asked for their referrals and business directly to him instead of the agency that would normally employ and insures him.  People think this is a good thing putting money directly into the hands of the guides. But what if something goes wrong? What if something happens to him, he gets hurt or sick? What would his family do if he died and his family was left with nothing because he was not insured?  What if something happens to you? is your guide able to communicate with a helicopter company to get you out? do they have an account with the helicopter company? fly now-pay later relations?  Is he/she trained medically to increase your chances of survival? Is anyone accountable? Is there an office with dispatch personnel to coordinate rescue protocol or communicate with insurance companies, family and doctors? If you're hiring a guide directly, likely not.

Nepal knows they've got to pull the reins in and are going through the motions to make improvements and have been learning some hard lessons. I don't blame Nepal, the industry just blew up too fast. We've been coming here since 1991 and remember well the days of being the only ones on the trail, the only ones on Ama Dablam, summits on Everest when climbers stood alone on top. That's certainly not the case today, those days are gone but could potentially come back if the affects of climate change aren't managed properly and people keep dying here.

This year we were told to get all permits issued before our participants arrived in Nepal to stop the above mentioned situations and to help bring everyone through proper channels by means of using reputable operators and agencies to protect tourists and the industries failing reputation.  Sadly it appears that these new regulations were not put into practice yet in the Annapurna and other remote regions. I'm still fielding emails from people asking for help to locate their loved ones in the area of the recent tragedy. Most missing trekkers families are saying they hired a guide when they got to Pokhara or Kathmandu. They didn't know their itinerary or who they were with. This is why so many are still considered missing,  they have no means to get in touch with family or someone to reach out on their behalf like a reputable operator would.  To note- we track and do regular check-ins.

I'm writing this today because I think it's important that climbers and trekkers need to know what they're up against and I'm NOT writing in the name of competition or to get more business by any means. There's the good- the bad -and the ugly here and anyone venturing into dangerous terrain really needs to do their homework and be diligent in thorough research before committing to a trip in a country where there are so many variables and hazardous situation that you are exposed to.

We state on our webpage "the most important question you can ask is - who doing the guiding? if you are not completely satisfied, keep asking." That's only one part of staying out of trouble.  Weather is out of your control but survival skills and good personal governance is and especially terrain management when trekking, knowing when to stay or go and to ask for credible guidance. Having established trust and respect for when guidance is needed is crucial.

We have an expedition underway right now for the sole purpose of educating responsible and self-reliant climbers and trekkers while enjoying the Sherpa land and the mountains. Here's just some of what we teach on this adventure, it's all relevant to what just happened and Tim is currently using the this recent event as an example to his participants as they move along.

"Developing educated self-reliant climber with the ability to evaluate subjective/objective hazards including:

  • Rock Fall
  • Glacier Conditions
  • Critical decision-making
  • Group experience
  • White out navigation
  • Mountain Weather
  • AMS- Acute mountain sickness: signs, symptoms and treatment
  • Safe travel on trails and routes, including maneuvering around pack animals and porters and rules of the trail in Sherpa land. 
  • Avalanche Awareness and Safety Skills
This is what is being taught on the Avalanche section of this course: 
excerpt from the Canadian Avalanche Association website.

Factors Contributing To Recreational Avalanche IncidentsThere are a number of common mistakes that many backcountry recreationists make that put them at increased risk of being involved in an avalanche accident. These include:
  • Poor trip preparation
  • Lack of knowledge of recognizing avalanche terrain
  • Inability to assess snow stability
  • Unskilled backcountry search and rescue techniques
Increasing Chances of Survival Through Risk Avoidance
  • Designating a leader to help ensure effective decision-making
  • Putting people at front of pack who are skilled at assessing snow stability or selecting routes
  • Ensuring that “back in the pack” people don’t simply follow the track, but pay attention to the terrain or snowpack
  • Don’t fall into the “blue-sky” attitude that draws recreationists to upper slopes where unstable snow can remain days or weeks after a storm
  • Don’t focus on being goal oriented even after learning of unfavorable conditions such as rain, heavy snowfall, drifting snow, 0° C temperatures and poor visibility
  • Knowing when you are tired so that fatigue doesn’t cloud judgment and narrow the margin of safety
  • Recognizing that a sense of “it won’t happen to me” invincibility can be fatal.

Tonight I light a tea candle for all the lives lost this past week.  Tim and team were not affected by this years cyclone, however last year they were and responded accordingly and everyone stayed safe and had a great climb. They stayed put, they let the snow pack settle, they preformed educated observations and solid decisions on terrain management and then they proceeded. Sadly the victims local and foreign in this disaster had no idea what was coming and how exposed to danger they were or what to do.

As someone said to us, I hope they didn't suffer.

Tashi Delek

Peak Freaks- Triple Crown Mountain Course - Everest Training

Beacon Practice and Puja

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the late post, I was occupied this morning writing something that I feel is important and someone has to say it about the past tragic disaster in the Annapurnas.


Tim called in at 08:00hrs NPT to say they were all settling in for their Puja ceremony to receive their blessing, bless the foo and their equipment and to ask for safe passage. It's a fun time, interesting cakes piled high with expedition food are made, juniper is burned and lots of chanting. This signifies the beginning of the climbing part of their journey.

The trekkers are all doing well and were able to participate in the ritual before making their way back down the valley to begin the next leg of their journey- Everest Base Camp. After they left the team got into beacon practices and more hands on avalanche skills and other criteria including in this program to prepare them for the three peaks they will ascend.

Tim said the weather is outstanding, beautiful blue, clean and fresh skies. I would think the cyclone did a good job giving the air a good cleanse from pollution in the lower elevations.


They are all nestled in their tents by now and will get up early and begin they ascent up to high camp on Island Peak. They'll rest there then leave before the sun comes up, probably 3 or 4 in the morning and summit with a sunrise if all goes to plan or a bit thereafter.

All good news for our team. Healthy, happy and moving forward.

Stay tuned!
"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

 Peak Freaks Triple Crown 2013'
Photo: Kuntal Joisher

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Everest 2013' Tragedy Story & Current Avalanche Concerns

I Writer Chip Brown with National Geographic has pieced together a very good article after speaking
directly to some of those involved. It's officially released today and we'd like to share it with you.

There's been too many avalanche related deaths this year in Nepal.  16 Sherpas lives lost on Everest in April ( Nepal's peak spring season) and currently 38 avalanche deaths + in the Annapurna and Manang region in October (Nepal's peak autumn season).

I found this information on the Canadian Avalanche Associations website today.

There are approximately 150 avalanche fatalities reported every year by the 17 countries that are members of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). 

I wonder what that figure will look like in the years to come. Climate change is making the mountains more dangerous than ever before and this is cause for concern in our mountain town of Nelson, B.C. and surrounding areas.

Autumn is now upon us now here in Canada. I look out the window and the peaks are slowly turning white in higher elevations, indicating the ski and board season is about to begin. Typically mid November the accumulation adds up enough for backcountry skiers to begin testing slopes, well before the controlled ski areas are open. This can be a very dangerous time of year as heavy snow falls will need time to heal and bond to the warm earth underneath.

Where we live it's a backcountry mecca. We have the highest concentration of helicopter and Cat Ski operators in the world and access to some of the deepest untouched-skiable-powder routes on the planet, and all are in avalanche in terrain.

In the weeks to come outdoor enthusiast will start tuning their equipment, theatres start pumping out adrenalin flicks like Warren Miller, and people get pumped. It think it would be safe to say that 80% of the people that live here are ski and board enthusiast. Getting educated in avalanche awareness and skills and sharing your knowledge and daily findings in the snow pack is a way of life in the Kootenays. Just a reminder it's that time of year again to tune your avalanche awareness along with your edges.

On another note- Peak Freaks has been sponsoring Nepal's one and only ski team with proper clothing. Anyone wanting to donate jackets and pants and lightly used gloves, they would be very much appreciated. The Nepalese people are small people so perhaps some teen or women gear would fit nicely.

Triple Crown- Mountaineering Safety Course  team are now at base camp at the base of Island Peak. Everyone is doing well and in the morning, NPT they are having their Puja. This will be their second one this season. First the one with Lama Geshi in Pangboche and now the one at base camp where their food and equipment will be blessed.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nangkartshang Peak (5,050m) - Summit!

All I received today is this photo from team member Chris Boyce of team Peak Freaks on top of their acclimatization objective above Dingboche. Tim has switched up his check-in time to Nepal mornings (12 hours difference from my time PDT) instead of evenings so I don't have the details of their day yet. Satellite signals appeared to be better in the the morning for reception, but this may change now that usage has settled down post avalanche tragedy in the Annapurna region and weather. 

Our weather reports are what we'd call a mixed bag which is a good thing. In the mountains this means stability. No high winds that typically come with clear skies, no extreme day time melt and flurries with just 1 to 2 cm on the horizon that will bond to the snowpack nicely.

Tim did tell me in his last call that there's already been some summits on Island Peak by other teams and the routes are in good shape here in the Khumbu. Though the snow pack is stabilizing, passing under steep exposed snow loaded slopes or seracs need experienced and professional observations to determine the risks. 


Nangkartshang Peak (5,050m)
Photo - Chris Boyce

Friday, 17 October 2014

Pheriche-4,371 m (14,340 ft)

Peak Freak members are all checked-in at the lodge in Pheriche.

 They are doing well, just a couple headaches due to the rise in elevation today.  This is considered normal at this point in time of their itineray. To help eleviate their headaches and to push the their bodies into acclimatizing, they will rise above the village tomorrow to approximately 300m/1000m to  the top of a non-technical peak. After lunch in on top and hanging about and shooting photos, they will return to Pheriche to sleep. The "climb high-sleep low" rule for proper acclimatization practices. 

You can read more information on Acute Mountain Sickness- AMS, click on the link.

Day after tomorrow they move up to their Island Peak base camp and settle into the comforts of life on a major mountaineering expedition. Private sleeping tents, great meals, warmth and begin workshops on various aspects of mountaineering.

Our Everest Base Camp trekkers will join in on the fun before moving up to Kala Pattar and the Khumbu ice-fall.

Tengboche Monastery with  Everest and surrounding mountains.
Provided by: Craig Falkenhagen

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Photo Upload from the Triple Crown Team

I would think these photos show exactly how well our team is doing, the weather and conditions they are experiencing in the Khumbu (Everest Region) right now.

Hope this helps alleviate concerns of families at home. They are currently in Pangboche, the home of Lama Geshi who will be preforming a blessing for the team tomorrow. To ask for clear passage and safety for the team.  They are all doing well and looking forward the days to come.


List of rescued trekkers in the Manang/Annapurna region

TAAN- The trekking association in Nepal has put up a list of persons rescued so far from the avalanche zone.

You will see it here on their Facebook page:

"Triple Crown Mountaineering Course"

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Nepal Avalanche Hazards- To climb or not to climb?

We are getting asked this question as result of the recent avalanche that has taken life once again in the Himalayas. The answer to that would be that a professional guide outfitter is paid to manage risk and should have all the expertise to back their decision making and make a call to the best of their educated knowledge. We saw this cyclone coming. We wonder if the people in this incident did?

We weren't there and don't have all the details on the situation that these people were in and our heart felt condolences go out to their families. It's a sad sad day. I pray for all those lost in this tragic cyclone event both on and off the mountains and other parts of the world that are experiencing the same thing right now. Global Warming is real, it's here and it's now, and people around the world are living the nightmare.

Last season we were in this situation and responded accordingly. Another non-seasonal cyclone hit the region the exact same day as this year, it covered the mountains in the Khumbu region where our team is right now. Usually we deal with cyclone events formed in the Bay of Bengal in the spring, rarely do they come in the autumn.  Last October we had three peaks to climb on our schedule with both climbers and a group of trekkers. We waited and we watched for two of the three peaks to shed and become stable before climbing. The third peak we cancelled altogether without hesitation.

In both scenarios the first thing a guide would do is pay very careful attention to the accumulation of snow, wind loading the slopes, terrain, and temperatures. Most importantly after the storm, the guide would make close observations on the shedding of the snow load and temperatures before moving up or down, and especially under exposed areas or tight areas. Tim says from what he sees in the footage on the Nepalese televisions there was an accumulation of about 2 feet of snow that would definitely warrant staying put.

When a climber or trekker joins a professionally organized expedition with experience in avalanche evaluation and risk management, potential hazards are addressed on the information provided to the customer- stating that the outfitter reserves the right to change, alter modify and cancel an expedition for many reasons, and especially a snow storm that makes passage very dangerous. We've done exactly this on several occasions. You have to - it's the mountains! They are constantly changing and so should we.

We aren't seeing the snow loads in the Khumbu where our team is right now. However things can change and so will our itineraries if needed to keep everyone safe.

Buyer beware! There is an abundance of amateur- uneducated -operators working in avalanche risks  areas in the Himalayas. The Nepalese government and industry has been sadly damaged the past few years by loss of life and misinformation and they are working hard to make it harder for just anyone to guide people in the Himalayas.  Thank- goodness!!

One of the main components on our "Triple Crown" Everest Training Climb taking place right now, is a section on Avalanche Awareness and Safety Skills. Tim is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association here in Canada and shares his knowledge to both our Sherpa staff and our participants. Far too many people climb in the Himalayas with guides of all walks without even thinking about getting this valuable and life-saving education beforehand for themselves, and instead rely on the guide-outfitter to make the sole decision on their behalf. We urge anyone going into any uncontrolled snow environment to take a course. We can't express this enough - take our course! do it for your family! avalanches aren't going away.

Becky Rippel
Peak Freaks

Meet the Team- Triple Crown 2014' Expedition

Peak Freak members escaped grounded flights in Kathmandu and most of snow that has created deadly avalanches in the Annapurna region. They are safe in the Everest region that did not get the direct hit from cyclone Hudbud as it passed over the Himalayas. 

Their photos coming out of there today are showing sunny skies and no snow on the ground. Tim said the team is watching on TV right now at the Zamling lodge in Namche Bazaar the local Nepal news who is reporting 12 dead so far and at least 50 rescues in other areas, not the Khumbu- Everest region. 

Email from one member just now:

Hi Becky.  Greetings from Namche!

Thank you so much for that completely unexpected birthday cake last night at Zamlings.  It had to be one of my best and most memorable birthdays ever - starting with a great walk up from Monjo, a fun afternoon in Namche and spectacular lightning and thunder in the evening.

Hsrd to believe, but this trip might even be better than my trip last year to EBC.  We have a fantastic group, and Tim is blast to be around.  He really makes things fun.  What a guy.

The weather cleared today and we had spectacular scenery on our day trip up to Khunde and Khumjung.

What a trip!

Best regards,
Craig Falkenhagen



1. Sahil Bhagat - USA/India
2. Craig Falkenhagen-USA
3. Philip Stover - Canada
4. John Forestell- Canada
5. Maria Grandberg- Sweden
6. Priya Singh- Canada/India
7. Chris Boyce- USA
8. Adam Mason- UK
9. Dean Gabriele- Canada
10. Romano Mihailovic- Australia
11. Derek Jarvis- Canada
12. Dekel Berenson- Israel
13. Tim RIppel


1. Colin Evans- Australia
2. Doug Thompson- Canada
3. Karen Jungnitsch- Canada
4. Jason Simons- Bermuda
5. Chris Walbourne- Canada

Craig Falkenhagen photo of Tim on the trail near Namche Bazaar
Triple Crown Expedition 2014'

Avalanche Deaths in Nepal update #1

We just got this news in from our office in Nepal. Peak Freak members are all good and there are no avalanches or deaths in the Everest region.

Hi Becky, 

We are getting grim reports of trekkers deaths in the Annapurna Thorong pass, Manang area after the 2-3 day of bad weather we had due to the cyclone in India.   Tim and his group were lucky to get to Lukla.

Hope all goes well with our treks.  So far we are lucky, no treks of ours are affected adversely.


Here's what Trekking Agents Association has just sent:

TAAN coordinating rescue works in Annapurna Region

Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has deployed two helicopters for rescue works in Annapurna Region after massive snowfall left many trekkers stranded in different trekking areas in the region.

TAAN executive members Pasang Tendi Sherpa and Ang Temba Sherpa are coordinating rescue works in Manang. An Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter has been deployed for rescue works in Manang. The chopper was deployed for rescue work from early morning.

Similarly, MI-17 helicopter has been deployed for rescue works in Mustang.
Quoting Mahendra Thakali, assistant CDO of Mustang, TAAN executive member Bidya Hirachan said a chopper operated by TAAN has brought four dead bodies and 14 injured trekkers to Pokhara.
Five bodies have been recovered from Phu area in Manang. Four of the deceased are Canadian and one is from India. Panorama Himalaya has confirmed death of its three Canadian clients in an avalanche. It has rescued three Canadian trekkers. Similarly, Nepal Hidden Trek has confirmed death of a Canadian woman.
Many trekkers are missing or stranded in different areas in the Annapurna region like Tilicho Lake, Dhaulagiri Base Camp, Phu and Thorang Pass and Larke Base Camp in Manaslu Region.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cell Tower Struck by Lightening

Dear followers,

 Sorry to say that the blog for this years Triple Crown are going to be short and sporadic. Ncell, the Nepalese cell service tower was struck by lightening three days ago in the Khumbu (Everest region). Being this part of the world one never knows when it will be up and running again. Back to the old way of doing things. Hit and miss signals on sat phones and living with "no news is good news". We'll try our best to get tidbits out when possible.

 Added to this are other obstacles keeping Nepal's army and workers extremely busy. This monsoon season an enormous amount of rain caused a landslide on the trade road between Tibet and Nepal early August. The slide blocked the Sun Koshi river; a major river running north to south creating a massive lake that threatened many villager lives below.

 Early September the lake breached in the middle of the night and washed away the Nepal Army excavators that were working to contain it. The flood didn't appear to be very large (thankfully) so no casualties were reported.

The Chinese have built a bridged access road for trucks only to keep the trade going but travellers are required to take a six hour detour to get around it.

 Weather?  Tim tells me that the snow line is low as result of the cyclone and current temperatures, but expects daytime warming will likely melt quite a bit of it making easy travel for the team. Then our connection got cut off.......

 Stay tuned! Becky
Triple Crown Expedition

 Photo: Sun Koshi - Friendship Highway landslide - August, 2014

Monday, 13 October 2014

Triple Crown 2014' Expedition Launch - Nepal

Blast off!

That's the feeling our Peak Freaks team felt today as they were lifted out of Kathmandu on the first twin otter this morning to Lukla. They were being pushed up the valley by killer cyclone Hudbud. An extremely severe cyclone moving up from the Bay of Bengal. Hudbud warranted 300,000 to be evacuated from eastern India and are reporting today that 24 people are now confirmed dead in that region.

All flights will be cancelled for several days as Hudbud passes over the Himalayas. Our team is hunkered down tonight in the village of Monjo at 2804m, just a 3 hour walk from Lukla. The rain is pounding hard tonight and communications are not possible. I received a very quick and broken signal around 12:45hrs NPT, they were moving fast to get to shelter and are all doing well.

This is not new to us. The same scenario came down on us last season as Peak Freaks got out on the last flight before cyclone Phailin hit on the exact same day- October 12th. What's the chances of Hudbud hitting the exact same day?

The aftermath of this storm will no doubt lay a significant amount of snow on the mountains and temperatures will dictate how it bonds to them.

Let the fun begin!

Becky Rippel
Triple Crown Expedition- Nepal