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Marmot Athlete Adrian Ballinger Returns to Everest’s Summit
Everest Base Camp (Nepal): On May 5, Adrian Ballinger, one of Marmot’s Global Athletes, became the first western climber to reach the summit of Everest for the 2010 climbing season. Ballinger, who is an experienced IFMGA certified mountain guide, joined nine of the best high-altitude climbing Sherpas in the world above Everest’s South Col (26,246 feet or 8000 meters) for a full day of fixing and replacing ropes—preparations for spring season climbers who aspire to touch the top of the world. This week, Ballinger is leading a commercial team up Everest’s south side beginning May 19 and plans to summit on May 22.
Ballinger (34) has led technical high-altitude expeditions to the Himalaya since 1997 and is the owner of Alpenglow Expeditions, based out of Lake Tahoe, California. This season, Ballinger is serving as the lead Everest guide for Himalayan Experience—or HIMEX—considered by many as the premier high-altitude guiding outfit in the world. HIMEX and the company’s founder, Russell Bryce, have been featured on the Discovery Channel’s Beyond Everest series for the past three seasons. Ballinger was also featured on the show last year.
On his May 5 summit day, Ballinger left Everest’s South Col at 4:00 AM, fixing lines all morning. By 11:30 am, he and nine of the strongest Sherpas in the business reached Everest’s summit: 3 from Himalayan Experience (HIMEX); 3 from Alpine Ascents International (AAI), and 3 from International Mountain Guides (IMG)—totaling 100 ascents of the mountain between them.
“All the teams (HIMEX, AAI, IMG) agreed that only the rope fixers would be above the South Col so we could put 100% of our focus on fixing ropes, improving anchors, and removing old ropes—without feeling any time pressure from climbers behind us,” explains Ballinger, who was selected to join the all-Sherpa team because of his technical climbing abilities and IFMGA experience. “It was such an honor for me to be the only non-Sherpa climber working the top of the mountain,” he adds. “It was one of my best days of climbing ever!”
In just a few years, Ballinger has emerged as one of the premier high-altitude mountain guides in the world, leading clients up some of the biggest mountains internationally through both HIMEX and Alpenglow. Ballinger has led successful expeditions to more than 25 Himalayan summits over 6000 and 7000 meters, including six ascents of Ama Dablam—a highly technical 6800 meter peak next to Everest. Since 2007, Ballinger has also guided clients twice to the summit of 26,759-foot Manaslu, a difficult and less-frequented 8000 meter peak and just last year Everest (29,032 ft.). He’s also attempted Himalayan giant Cho Oyu (26,906 ft.) in Tibet once with HIMEX clients, but turned his team around because of dangerous weather conditions.
“As guides, we have to make really hard decisions—sometimes life and death calls—while our bodies and minds are also pushed to the absolute limit. Maintaining good judgment is really hard on the roof of the world and I thrive on that decision making,” explains Ballinger who at only 14-years-old dreamed of climbing and working on Everest.
“Guiding Everest tests all of my limits,” adds Ballinger
For his top-line philosophy on commercially guiding Everest, Ballinger explains, “I want my clients to also be my climbing partners. My focus is on each climber becoming a competent, independent climber on the team,” he explains.
As Ballinger leads his team of 13 climbers to the summit this week, he’ll be overseeing all client care and operations on the mountain with 5 other professional mountain guides and 24 high-altitude climbing Sherpas—a total summit team of 42 people.
What’s the endgame for Ballinger? “Through instruction and experience, our entire team becomes much safer—everyone enjoys themselves far more and takes home much more than just tagging a summit.”
Follow Adrian’s blog on www.Marmot.com and www.Alpenglow.com
About Marmot Mountain, LLC
Marmot is a globally distributed brand of high-performance, technical clothing, apparel and equipment. Since 1974, Marmot products have been worn by climbers, skiers, mountaineers and adventurers world-wide. Marmot works with professional mountain guides, world-class athletes and expeditions—pushing the limits of product innovation and technology—and pioneering what is possible on the highest mountains on earth. Marmot products are simple, appropriate and dependable.