The 1998 American Mount Everest Expedition
Wally Berg, Expedition Leader
One of the world's leading mountaineers, Wally
summited Mount Everest for the third time in 1997.
A quintessential Khumbu old hand, Wallly has made more than 16 trips to
the Everest region of Nepal, often twice in one year. He is one of the
most active climbers on 8,000m peaks and
one of America's top high altitude
climbers as well as one of its premier mountaineering guides.
successfully summited such Himalayan
giants as Cho-Oyu
and Lhotse, which he climbed with Scott Fischer to
achieve the first American summit of that Everest neighbor. Other
noteworthy climbs include
Antarctica's Vinson and an outstanding track record
on Kilimanjaro. Over the
years Wally has developed particular expertise on the
mountains and cultures
of Elbrus and Kilimanjaro that rival his long
experience in Nepal among his beloved Sherpa friends. His patience and
expert skills establish him as one
of the most respected guides in the mountaineering
community. In the past year, Wally has recently
guided trips to Everest, Denali, Elbrus, Vinson and
Charles is an expatriate Brit who resides in the Silicon Valley,
a disk-drive's throw away from Stanford campus.
He got the bug for climbing out of an early formative experience with
army instructors at a wet and slippery crag in the Pennines (UK), where
he learnt that army boots were not quite as good as modern stealth
rubber soles. Undeterred he racked up a number of ascents at college in
Cambridge, England, mostly to do with placing bedsteads on top of buildings, the
same suspended beneath bridges, and exterior art and fashion improvements to
ancient buildings, which the original architects had somehow overlooked.
Charles has climbed around the globe including Alaska, the Andes,
Antarctica, Californian Sierras, and the Himalayas.
Last December he was on a successful winter ascent of Ama Dablam, which overlooks the trekking route into Everest basecamp.
This is his third expedition to Everest he claims that he has
pretty good time (better living through altitude and chemistry),
and to have set the high altitude record for Latin and quantum field
He trained as a mathematician at Cambridge University England and went
on to do research in astrophysics, and can still be found lurking around
astronomical observatories on occasion. When he isn't climbing he is
at work bringing new technologies to market in the world of Silicon
David Mencin, 32, traveles the world as a hired gun in the esoteric field of GPS science. Recently, he has been working at an NSF research facility called UNAVCO where he is part of a specialized group that focuses on the
application of GPS to problems in geophysics. Mencin develop software to deal with what he calls "cool" GPS applications like real time volcano monitors and atmospheric tomography.
He has traveled in the capacity of GPS scientist to six continents:
Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Greece, Italy, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbijan, and
South Russia, Central Asia (Kazakstan, Kyhrgizia, Uzbekistan), South
America, India, Europe, and good old US of A. His travels include
extensive time in the Himalayas, and most of his work "on the hoof"
relates to crustal deformation measurements.
When he's not traveling the world with a gravity meter and GPS
receivers, Mencin is an avid climber who enjoys living in Boulder,
Eric Simonson, 42, lives at the base of Mt. Rainier in Ashford,
Washington that is when he's not huddling in a tent somewhere on one of
highest mountains. Eric's passion for mountaineering has led to a
successful career for the past 26 years as a professional climber and
guide. He is a partner in International Mountain Guides,
a guide service specializing in high altitude
international climbing expeditions. Eric's typical international
schedule in a given year includes climbs to Vinson, Kilimanjaro,
Oyo, Island Peak and Mount Everest from the north side. As co-owner of
Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides, one of the newly permitted guide services on
Mt. Rainier, Eric will also lead several climbs in 1998 on Rainier via
the Emmons Glacier.
Eric has been on over 60 high altitude expeditions including over 15
climbs in the Himalayas, over twenty trips to Mt. McKinley and the
Alaska Range, and many expeditions to Africa, South America, New
Zealand, Antarctica, and Russia. He has climbed to over 27,000 feet on
four of his five Everest Expeditions, making the summit in 1991 via the
North Ridge. Eric has over 250 climbs of Mt. Rainier.
Greg's experience guiding and climbing spans more than 20 years. Wilson
spent a decade guiding for Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., where he
accumulated more than 100 summits of Mt. Rainier. His international guiding career
began in 1983 with International Mountain Guides. He continues to guide
for IMG and the newly formed Mount Rainier Alpine Guides, in addition to
operating his own international guide service, HORIZONS, which
in climbs, treks, and adventure travel to Latin America.
A guiding trip to Mexico's volcanoes in 1977, followed by an expedition
Cordillera Blanca in 1978, sparked a keen interest in climbing and
guiding in South America. Greg has since participated in over 75 high
mountaineering expeditions worldwide, including Alaska, Mexico, Ecuador,
Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina (18 expeditions to Aconcagua), Russia,
Tibet, Nepal, and Antarctica. In 1989 he climbed Kangchenjunga, the
third highest peak in the world at 28,162 feet, without oxygen. He has been
on four American Everest expeditions and climbed to the summit of Mt.
Everest in 1991.
Character Building Insight from Mom and Dad: When Greg was about 14 months old, we found
him sitting on top of a dresser. He had made stair steps by pulling out the
drawers and had climbed to the top of the dresser. This was the first of many
summits of dressers and anything else he found to climb. We probably hexed
him for life because we dubbed him "our little mountain goat".
Gail and Ron Wilson, Reluctant Mountain Zone Contributors
Expedition leader Wally Berg noted the team takes a great deal of pride in the experience and number of summits of their Sherpa members, saying they are the "cream of the crop of the elite climbing Sherpa." He has known some of them for 12 years and considers many to be good friends. Climbers from the villages of Thame, Khumjung, Phortse, Pangboche, and Chulemo (a village near Thakshindu monastery) live in the shadow of Everest and are traditionally the strong performers on expeditions.
The Sherpa's names are followed by their home village and role in the expedition (click for photos):
- Pasang Sherpa, Thakshindu, sirdar (lead Sherpa). Pasang has a long history of climbing expeditions. In 1973, he was the second sirdar for the Japanese team and spent 57 consecutive days in the Western Cwm at Camp II (21,500'). He's a man of few words, is modest, and of impeccable integrity. He was the sirdar on Wally Berg's first expedition in '86.
- Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Phortse, climbing sirdar, with two summits of Everest. Interesting note on Dawa Nuru: both of his summits were on May 10th, in '90 and '93. Both times with Wally Berg. So the team is hoping May 10th will be auspicious for him again this year.
- Dorjee Sherpa, Thame, climber, 6 summits
- Nima Tashi Sherpa, Pangboche, climber, 4 summits (with Wally in 1997)
- Dawa Pemba Sherpa, Thame, climber, 3 summits
- Ang Pasang Sherpa, Pangboche, climber, 2 summits (with Wally in 1997)
- Lakpa Galyzen Sherpa, Phortse, climber lead, 1 summit. Galyzen trained for years in a monastery and helped conduct the team's puja
- Tensing Gyatso Sherpa, climber who for the past five years has worked with the Kiwis (New Zealand based guiding company called Adventure Consultants previously run by Rob Hall and Gary Ball, and now owned by Guy Cotter.)
- Dawa Sherpa, Thakshindu, climber who was on Wally Berg's expedition to Miro peak in '97
- Dorjee Sherpa, Tapping, climber
- Phu Tashi Sherpa, Pangboche, climber
- Concha Nuru Sherpa, Khumjung, climber
- Lakpa Sherpa, Thakshindu, Camp II cook
- Pasang Tesring Sherpa, Thame, camp II assistant cook
- Chhongba Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp head cook. For the past six years, he's worked with the Kiwis (New Zealand based guiding company called Adventure Consultants previously run by Rob Hall and Gary Ball, and now owned by Guy Cotter.)
- Pasang Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp cook (for Sherpas). Two kitchens are maintained in base camp: one to specialize in western food and one in local food so that all members of the expedition can eat what they are accustomed to.
- Nima Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp kitchen helper or "spare," what the Sherpas call an all around hand or utility guy in base camp
- Nima Lama Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp kitchen helper or "spare." A common occurrence among Sherpas is to run into someone with the same name from the same village. To differentiate, and because one has studied at a monastery, he is called "Nima Lama" and the other guy is Nima.
- Namka Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp kitchen helper
- Pasang Sherpa, Thakshindu, base camp kitchen helper
- Dawa Sherpa, Thakshindu, mail runner
- Nawang Galygen Sherpa, mail runner