Choosing the right guide service for a Himalayan expedition

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 14-21, 1995

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Choosing the right guide service for a Himalayan expedition
Q: Thank you for your page. I am a keen mountaineer, currently working in Hong Kong. I am trying to get on a commercial expedition to a high Himalayan peak, post monsoon '96. Do you have any contact addresses, please?
Mike Trueman
Hong Kong
[email protected]

A: You might want to start out by contacting several organizations that set standards for international guiding services. Your first call should be to the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) in Colorado at 303-271-0984 or, via e-mail at [email protected] They'll send you a referral list of all the accredited guiding services that are running trips to the Himalayas within the next year. Because they represent so many U.S. outfitters, AMGA is reluctant to recommend any one service in particular; your best bet, then, is to send away for their list and just start making calls. It's good to get a jump on the climbing season; spring '96 trips are already being scheduled, and in some cases, you'll need to allow time for pre-course training. Be aware that pre-monsoon expeditions are usually more popular, as the weather in the late spring generally gets better and better with every day; during the post-monsoon, the weather at the beginning of your trip will most likely be pretty ideal but will continue to deteriorate as time goes by. Nonetheless, there are still a number of guide services that do schedule expeditions in October and November to 20,000-foot peaks as well as shorter, three-week trekking trips to lower elevations. If you want to go farther afield, contact the International Union of Mountain Guides Association (in French, it's UIAGM) in Switzerland at 011-41-41-811-717 for a list of guiding services worldwide. Or, for general mountaineering information, try the American Alpine Club at 303-384-0110. Good luck! Related Web sites include the Shangri La Home Page, which contains more stunning photos, as well as video and useful information.

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