March 24 - May 4, 2003

[ Full Menu ]

The program has primarily been designed to accommodate beginning mountaineers with little or no experience. For our purposes we consider even seasoned rock climbers to be beginning mountaineers if they don’t have experience ascending high peaks via ice and snow covered routes. We will provide instruction and practice in all necessary basic skills including the use of equipment. With this in mind however, please know that we are able to accommodate more experienced participants. This is possible due to our low student-to-instructor ratio and our ability to break up into smaller rope teams. The syllabus is flexible and can be tailored to fit the group’s experience. Additionally, this flexibility allows us to progress from basic topics to more advanced ones as quickly or as slowly as the individual group members require to master the skills. We are therefore able to maintain a high level of challenge, excitement and instruction for all skill levels. If you have questions about your own experience and how you will fit into our program, feel free to contact us.

We are only allowing a maximum of twelve students to participate in the School. This is to facilitate personal and individualized instruction. Because of our limited enrollment, we recommend that you apply early.

Physical Fitness and Pre-trip Preparation:
Because we will be exerting ourselves at high altitudes for long periods of time, it is important to arrive in Nepal with a decent level of physical fitness. While there will be a short period during the hike in to the valley and while rafting to catch up, we recommend at least a few hours per week of aerobic and cardiovascular training. Weight and strength training is not nearly as important, but remember you will be carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time. Ideally, three days per week spent running, cycling, cross-country skiing and/or hiking for about an hour should prepare you. If you can spare more time add longer periods of exercise, and an additional day or two to your routine. Begin training early (at least several weeks) and keep it up to achieve maximum benefit. You will enjoy yourself much more if you arrive physically fit and are prepared for the demands of high altitude mountaineering ahead of time.

We accept anyone over the age of 18, and may consider younger students under certain conditions.

Altogether, the seven-week program will cost $3800 plus travel. A $200 discount will be given to all students paying according to schedule. In an effort to keep costs as low as possible for our participants, we have priced the program well below industry standards. Part of the reason this low cost is possible is because we are able to utilize local homestays and lodges to both reduce our costs and provide you with a more rewarding cultural experience. When possible, you share housing and meals with local inhabitants giving you firsthand experience of the local lifestyles and customs. Another reason our costs are kept low is due to the fact that we refrain from issuing printed materials. This has the added benefit of reducing our impact on the already burdened environment. One final reason we are able to do this is because our goal is to maximize our economic impact on the Rolwaling population, not to line our own pockets. We sacrifice our own salaries not only for the benefit of our students, but more importantly the benefit of the people we intend to help. While all this means you are getting a lot more for your dollar than many other similar programs, it also means that some costs will have to be met by the students while in Nepal. The course fee includes:
  • Orientation and instruction in Kathmandu
  • A two day rafting expedition on the Bhote Khosi (Whitewater grade 4-5)
  • Room and Board throughout our stay in Rolwaling (From arrival in Bedding to arrival in Thame)
  • Bus from Kathmandu to the trailhead at Dolaka
  • Group equipment including tents, ropes, stoves, etc

The program fee does not include:

  • Room and Board in Kathmandu, on the trail to Beding or after the program culminates in Thame
  • Travel to and from Nepal
  • Insurance
  • Personal climbing and trekking gear
  • Any additional expenses not listed above
To estimate your additional expenses calculate approximately $5 per day in Kathmandu for accommodations, an additional $5-$7 per day for meals, $1100-$1500 for airfare to Nepal, $5-$10 per day for Room and Board during the hike to Rolwaling, and an additional $5-$15 for each day to remain in Khumbu after the course. If you choose to fly out of Khumbu instead of trekking, the flight will cost around $90. This means that, if you arrive in Kathmandu on the 24th you can expect to pay from $85-$120 for expenses incurred in Kathmandu and on the trail. The amount you will need after the course depends upon how long you stay in both Khumbu and Kathmandu. These costs are only estimates to help determine your budget. Note that they do not include souvenirs or any sort of entertainment or sightseeing in which you may partake while in Kathmandu. Thrifty nickels may find it easy to spend far less than this, while more extravagant spenders can easily spend several hundred dollars. We suggest bringing a minimum of $500 to get you through the beginning and end periods of the course. Those of you staying in Khumbu for extended periods should bring closer to $1000.

The Summiters mountaineering school can be broken up into four main parts. The first section will consist of orientation, sightseeing, and practical lectures in Kathmandu. There will also be ample time for exploring, shopping and purchasing last minute gear and supplies. The second section is a two-day rafting expedition on the Bhote Khosi. This exciting experience through class four and five rapids is designed to strengthen the group’s teamwork skills and allow more time to get to know each other in a fun setting. Following the rafting portion of the course, we will jump directly into the third section that consists of a five-day hike through the low hills of Nepal and up to the remote Rolwaling valley.

Once in Rolwaling we will spend just over four weeks in our intensive mountaineering curriculum. Here we will teach a variety of skills ranging from first aid, to avalanche forecasting, to technical ice climbing. For a complete synopsis of all the topics taught see ?????? Since we will be based out of the small village of Beding (3600 meters), there will also be time to get to know the local inhabitants, learn about their customs and help with the numerous volunteer opportunities associated with the Bridges to Rolwaling program. While in the valley we will attempt to summit Ramdung Go (???? meters) and Yalung Ri (5555 meters). Conditions permitting, we may also approach the Menlung La (???? Meters), the historic pass where Eric Shipton captured his famous Yeti Photographs. Shorter day hikes will take us to the south wall of Gauri Shankar, the beautiful lake of Oma’i Tsho and other spectacular places.

At the conclusion of training, we will cross the infamous Tashi Lapcha pass into Khumbu. During this technical traverse, we will have the opportunity to tackle an additional major summit. Pacharmo rises ???? meters above sea level and will be the ultimate test of your newly acquired skills. After navigating the difficult icefall leading to the pass, we will camp at over ???? meters before attempting the summit. Following our summit bid, we will descend into the popular Khumbu valley and the town of Thame. At Thame our program will end, but you will have the opportunity to trek throughout Khumbu, participate in the Namche Conference (LINK! To Namche conference info or Seth’s paragraph about credit…) and Fiftieth anniversary celebrations in Namche, or simply return to Kathmandu. Whatever your decision, you will have gained the necessary knowledge and skills to plan and execute your own mountaineering expeditions throughout the world.

During our time in the Valley, we will be accompanied by numerous staff members to facilitate your learning experience. Based on an expected group size of 12, we will have two experienced Everest Summiters who were born and raised in the Rolwaling Valley. Not only have they participated in countless expeditions throughout the Himalayas, but they grew up in the valley and know it better than any outsider could possibly hope. They were crossing its passes and visiting its lakes before most of us ever dreamed of visiting Nepal. The two Summiters we expect to accompany us in 2003 are Dawa Chhiri and Tsering Dawa. (or Nima Dorje). They are a few of the younger members of the Everest Summiters Club, and organization made up of around thirty Rolwaling natives. These mountaineers will be responsible for most of the technical climbing training and in charge of our summit attempts. Helping the Summiters with the school will be Pepper Etters, our American Field Manager. He is responsible for more of the theoretical training and logistics planning. Pepper comes from the Mountains of Colorado where he has spent a large part of his life working and playing among the giants. In addition to working as a Climbing Instructor and Backcountry Guide, Pepper has worked as a Raft Guide and is an avid Kayaker. Rounding out our instructional team will be one other support climber whose job it will be to assist our team in providing you with the best instruction possible. These four instructors give us a maximum student: instructor ratio of 3:1 allowing us to provide

Some of the most important members of are team, are the ones who often go unnoticed. In order for our expedition to be successful, we will enlist the services of numerous porters, cooks and helpers. These individuals make our experience more enjoyable by helping with the less glamorous but necessary aspects of mountaineering such as hauling gear, cooking and cleaning. We hope to fill most (or all) of these positions with Rolwaling natives.

Instructional Topics:
As mountaineering is a generalized sport that draws countless skills from other more specialized disciplines, we plan to cover numerous topics during our time in Nepal. While in Kathmandu we will discuss such ideas as: Group Dynamics and Expedition Dynamics, Leadership, Minimum Impact techniques, Packing, Expedition Prep, Planning and Logistics. We will then encounter more practical hands on topics during our hike in as we learn a “knot-a-day” by the time we reach Rolwaling you will have mastered all the necessary knots for climbing. We will also touch on the more academic and information based ideas surrounding weather, nutrition, high altitude medicine and acclimatization. As our learning progresses we will have opportunities to apply this newly acquired information in our day to day exercises in the mountains.

Once in Beding, we will pick up the pace with intensive avalanche and snow dynamics courses, and first aid practicums utilizing scenarios so that we may “learn by doing.” In addition to our first aid training, we will discuss accident site management and emergency response procedures, both necessary in remote areas such as the high Himalayas. Once we have a firm understanding in the issues learned in the first few weeks, we will discuss how it all figures into decision making and the choices we make while on an expedition. Another important aspect that figures into this decision-making process is hazard evaluation, we will learn about the unique hazards that are encountered in the mountains and how each figures in to our decisions.

As we begin the climbing portion of the course, we will begin with a thorough introduction to the equipment, its uses and its care. We will quickly progress to more exciting ideas such as Glacier travel and movement on snow and ice. We will learn important techniques such as the Self-Arrest and Self-Belay as well as several different ways to belay our fellow teammates. We will also spend time on the glaciers practicing Self-rescue and other rescue techniques. During this time we will also learn about the proper use and placing of now and ice protection, those important pieces of gear that we use to protect ourselves in the event of a fall or other mishap. Once we have become comfortable in all of these techniques, we will progress to topics such as leading, fixing rope, and other more advanced ideas. Conditions permitting, we may also have the opportunity to learn introductory rock climbing and repelling. When all of this is accomplished, most of our time will be spent ascending peaks and practicing the skills until they become second nature. By the time we attempt the crossing of Tashi Lapcha and the summit of Pacharmo, what once seemed like impossible mountains and difficult techniques will have become as normal as riding a bicycle. Following the program you will have developed the skills necessary for ascending peaks throughout the world.

During our time in Nepal, we hope to enhance the learning opportunities of our students through topics that are not directly related to mountaineering. These include background lessons in basic Nepali, geology, geography, Anthropology/Cultural studies and an introduction to the valleys flora and fauna. We will also have the opportunity to evaluate tourism, tourists and their role in development. Hopefully, we will have time to participate in volunteer opportunities in Beding, including the installation of a micro hydropower project. In addition, we hope that each group member can share personal insights and experiences from their own lives to enhance our understanding of each other and the world around us.

There are countless books on mountaineering, climbing and other related topics out there. While almost all are excellent sources for more information, those listed below are recommended as they follow closest to our instruction.

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the hills (6th Ed.) by the Mountaineers – Widely considered the “Bible of Mountaineering Literature,” this is the closest thing you will find to a textbook on Mountaineering and it covers almost all the topics which we will touch upon during our course.

The Avalanche Handbook by David McClung and Peter Schaerer – Detailed and well-explained information on snow physics and the causes, forecasting and avoidance of one of natures most powerful forces.

More to follow, I am to tired now… alt med, nepali, self rescue, ice climbing, glacer travel, etc… also nepal history, culture, mountaineering, etc. Application form- medical release, legal release, physical fitness now/planned, previous experience, etc….