The Team
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 is considered one of America's top high altitude climbers as well as one of its premier mountaineering guides.

He has 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 Kilimanjaro.

Charles Corfield
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 theory.

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 Valley start-ups.

David Mencin
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, Colorado.

Eric Simonson
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 the world's 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 guiding schedule in a given year includes climbs to Vinson, Kilimanjaro, Everest, Cho 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 Wilson
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 specializes in climbs, treks, and adventure travel to Latin America.

A guiding trip to Mexico's volcanoes in 1977, followed by an expedition to Peru's Cordillera Blanca in 1978, sparked a keen interest in climbing and guiding in South America. Greg has since participated in over 75 high altitude 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

Dorjee Sherpa
[click to zoom]
Climbing Sherpa
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):