Expedition Guide Directory
updated late 2014
Since I am not a professional climber, I used guides on all my big trips or when I need to learn something new. This page is my personal list of favorites expedition companies where I generally only comment when I have first-hand experience or a strong reference from someone I know well. Also, please see the Selecting a Guide page for FAQs on selecting a guide.

Note: the term 'guide' has grown in definition over time. Most of the companies I list on this page offer 'guided' climbs but this does not mean a 1:1 ratio between western guide and client. It means that there is one 'leader' who is on the mountain with many clients at the same time. On large Himalayan peaks it is common to have a wide range of guide to client ratios from 1:1 to 1:4 to 1:20 The large teams supplement the guide/leader ratio with Sherpa Guides (at an addition cost) at ratios from 1:1 up to 1:4 Sherpa to client.

The best companies keep their total clients in a single push under eight with a 1:1 sherpa:client ratio plus at least one, preferably more, experienced western guides. And they have several Sherpas on standby at a high camp for emergencies.

With large groups or high ratios, if you get in trouble (fall, illness, or lost) you might not be able to reach your western guide/leader or qualified Sherpa for help. If you really want a true 'guide' then you will pay more than their top price listed but you can get a 1:1 ratio with an experienced western guide. While a company may have a good reputation, your experience could be fantastic or a disaster depending on the on-mountain leadership. Spend as much time understanding, researching and interviewing your leaders and the expedition organization as you do the company and the mountain.

The thumbs up indicates a company I would seriously consider without hesitation based on their safety record, interaction with customers, summit success and to some extent pricing value. All of this has been sustained over many years and many types of expeditions. The others are good companies but warrant further research depending on the complexity of the climb and the type of experience you desire.

Major Global Guides

  • Alpine Ascents International: I have never personally used AAI, but have seen them in action on many climbs. If money is no object, they may be a good choice for climbers who want a U.S. based company and a little extra hand holding. They run their trips in a strict manner and charge the very top price so you get a generous guide to client ratio. Their excellent web site is one of the best anywhere and has loads of information from gear to training. While they have an excellent reputation, they follow a proven formula so understand what you are getting into if you are looking for a more independent climb. See their Everest track summit list but note they do not show their summit %. My bottom line opinion: Consider them if you are wanting a bit more attention, and have a very large budget.

  • Adventure Consultants: I used them on Everest in 2003 and 2002 and Ama Dablam in 2000. They operate out Wanaka, New Zealand and run expeditions all around the world especially the Himalayas. Their prices are amongst the highest but you get many luxuries on the big Hills. They limit their teams to 9-12 climbers, have seasoned western guides and excellent Sherpas. The teams are usually very international which I prefer. Their safety record is outstanding and usually perform well on getting people to the summit. Guy runs a first rate operation, especially when he is on the climb. See their Everest track summit list but note they do not show their summit %. My bottom line opinion: Consider them if you are looking for an international flavor, and your budget is large.

  • Himalayan Experience: Russell Brice, owner, is a New Zealander living in Chamonix France. I met him on Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Everest many times. He runs excellent expeditions to Everest's south sides, Lhotse and to Manaslu at higher end prices. After leaving Everest North for a few years due to "the uncertainty in China", he is running Everest from Tibet in 2015 in addition to his Nepal expedition. He consistently puts climbers safely on the summit year in, year out. Everest 2012 was an exception but should not be a factor in the future. I have observed Brice as having a reputation of tight control so be prepared to follow his rules strictly. He often provides logistics to non-direct clients (Discovery Channel, film makers, other expeditions etc.) so you want to make sure you have his full attention before signing up. His base camps are the best of the best as is his food; as a result his prices are high but not the top surprisingly. See their Everest track summit list including their summit %. My bottom line opinion: I would use them for any climb without question if budget allowed. Himex is the best value of the higher priced major guide services in my opinion.

  • International Mountain Guides: I have climbed with IMG 5 times (Cho Oyu, Vinson, Aconcagua, Everest, Kilimanjaro). Seattle based, Eric Simonson specializes on the Himalayas, Phil Ershler on South America, Antarctica and Elbrus and the other partners for other peaks around the world. IMG is a world-class operation with steady logistics and planning. They run a no-nonsense operation that you can depend on. With their mid range prices, they offer an excellent value. They have a massive support staff on Everest and are prepared for most any emergency. Full disclosure: I selected IMG for 4 of my 7 Summits throughout 2010/2011 and made the summit on all of them-100% success. See their Everest track summit list including their summit %. My bottom line opinion: Best value/safety/independence combination of any guide service in my personal experience and I would use them for any climb without hesitation.

  • Jagged Globe: I have never personally used JG, but have seen them in action on many climbs. A UK based company. I know several people who have used them with good satisfaction. On Everest, they are trying to take culinary delights to new levels, not sure this is why people go to Everest however. They work with other companies and offer trips almost anywhere. Nice site with many pictures and trip reports. They offer a unique "pre-expedition weekend" where you meet your mates and get a little work in before the trip. They have had 90% success on Everest since 2010. They don't list rate for previous years. My bottom line: A solid choice at market prices, especially if you want to climb with a British flavor.

  • Rainier Mountaineering Inc.: RMI is best know for guiding 4,000 people a year up Mt. Rainier in Washington State in the US. I used them with some friends in 2004. I was pleased with the guiding service for our team composed of mostly inexperienced climbers but with so many people, they run a formula climb with little flexibility. RMI has expanded to offer international climbs to leverage their Rainier business. Dave Hahn (14x Everest summit) is one of their elite guide who comes at a premium and is worth it. My bottom line opinion: consider them for Rainier and Denali and some international knowing they run a fairly standard, formulamatic program. Use Hahn if you can afford it and want RMI.

Smaller, Custom Guides

  • Alpeneglow: Adrian Ballinger broke off from Himalayan Ascents aka Himex a few years ago to focus on his own company. He runs global trips including Everest. His difference includes clever, aggressive marketing, short time-frame trips designed with high support for small teams at the highest price of any commercial operator. He and most of his guides have international guiding credentials He likes to focus on mountaineering ski trips. My bottom line opinion: A good choice for people who must have maximum support and have extremely limited time plus have extraordinarily large budgets and are looking for more than a traditional climb.

  • Altitude Junkies: A company for climbers, owned and run by Phil Crampton, Altitude Junkies is a boutique operator that focuses on logistics with a strong team of Sherpas and knows how to run a solid base camp. His teams are limited to 8 maximum and are typically more experienced and repeat climbers. His prices are slightly lower than the majors primarily due to his low overhead and Phil leading* (not guiding) the climbs himself. Phil's base camps are known for their daily "happy hour" which attracts climbers from other teams. While serious in purpose, Phil creates an atmosphere of fun on his climbs. He was one of the few highly experienced guides running Everest north who returned starting in 2012 but is running a South climb for 2014. Full disclosure: He was instrumental in helping me get to Everest in 2008. I summited both Alpamayo in 2012 and Manaslu with them in the Fall of 2013. My bottom line opinion: Best of the small independent companies. Consider them if you want a smallish, boutique climb with personal attention but plan on being self-sufficient.

  • Asian Trekking: Maybe the largest and best known "logistics" operator for Nepal and Tibet climbs and treks. Caters to independent groups and individuals looking to leverage permit and logistics but do not want a guide. See their Everest summit list but note they do not show their summit %. A good option for those looking for minimal assistance.

  • Madison Mountaineering: Garrett Madison recently broke off from Alpine Ascents. He now runs global trips leveraging his 6 Everest summits plus guiding more people to the summit of Everest than any commercial guide. He runs fully supported, quality, safe trips at prices slightly higher than the market. Full disclosure: I summited K2 in 2014 with Garrett and found him competent, professional and personable. My bottom line opinion: An excellent choice for any climb with highly personal support, quality staff and credible experience; all at a reasonable price for what you get.

  • Mountain Trip: A small Colorado based company that has a strong relationships with their guides. They run very conservative programs based on a wide range of client experiences. I used them for Denali twice with no summit each time. There are six companies authorized to guide on Denali by the National Park Service so I would check out each one and make sure to ask the 10 questions. MT is well known for Denali and run the standard trip like everyone else but offers high price custom trips as well. They have expanded to offer the 7 Summits by partnering with Scott Woolums of Adventure International who has multiple 7 Summits circuit successes. Their overall pricing is with the highest offered for each mountain but bundle some extras. Full disclosure: I selected MT for 2 of my 7 Summits throughout 2010/2011 and made the summit on Carstensz Pyramid but not Denali. My bottom line opinion: Very accessible for pre-climb information but carefully consider them for value and overall on-mountain commitment for experienced climbers.

Trekking and Other Companies

  • Project Himalaya: This is a small company run by Jamie McGuinness based out of Kathmandu. I went to Shishapangma with him in 2007 and was very pleased. If you just want logistics for Everest, he is a good option. He has employed the same Sherpas for years and has good BC logistics (food, tents, power,etc.) with smaller teams. His prices are slightly lower than the majors primarily due to his low overhead and Jamie leading* (not guiding) the climbs himself. His base camp services are good as are his Sherpas who do most of the on-mountain leadership. Their website is one of the best for high quality pictures, and overall mountain information. My bottom line opinion: I would consider him for any Himalaya Trek or Everest North logistics.

  • Mountain Travel-Sobek: I used them on my first trip to Nepal in 1997. Sophisticated web site with a professional look. My bottom line opinion:: I would use them for any trek around the world if you can afford them.

  • Seven Summits Treks: Owned and operated by MIngma, Tashi and Dawa Sherpa, they are Kathmandu based and run climbs in Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan and India plus all of 14 of the 8000m mountains. MIngma and Dawa have summited all 14 without oxygen. They run a professional base camp and provide Sherpa support at additional costs. Some Sherpas complain they are not paid well. I used some of their logistics for K2 in 2014.

  • Field Touring: In 2005 I climbed Aconcagua and in 2006, Broad Peak with FT. Dave Hancock focus on basement level pricing and targets self-sufficient climbers who think they do not want or need personal guiding or expensive extra services. They run Pakistan climbs each year but get recent references as to the most recent experience, safety and success. If you select them be advised not to expect extensive hand-holding, standard base camp comforts that the more expensive companies offer and attention to details. Get recent references that are at your same ability. Leaders could be inexperienced at leading or could be first time climbers on that specific mountain based on my observations and experience.

  • Tower Guides: I went ice climbing in the famous Ouray ice park with Andy Petefish in 1999. He Guides at Devil's Tower in Wyoming during the summer. Andy is very professional and a great teacher. Good site with complete information on his services.

  • Exum Mountain Guides and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides: Both offer trips in Jackson Wyoming. I used JHMG for my Grand Teton trip. Be advised that as of 09/08 only Exum is approved to guide the Exum ridge during the popular summer months. Also speak with your guide before signing up since I found the quality quite variable.

  • St. Elias Alpine Guides: Custom trips to Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain range for first ascents and ice climbing. I did some first ascents and ice climbing with them in 1999. They are very willing to make your trip whatever you want. Employees a motivated young team of guides. Basic web site with comprehensive information on their trips.

  • Alaska Mountaineering School: Specializes in Alaska and Denali. I climbed Denali with them in 2007. It was an OK trip with good logistics and guide skills. They ran it too much like a school room (with school in their name, what was I expecting!?) for my taste but it might appeal to climbers with less experience. They were also ultra-ultra-conservative in climbing style. Nice people but there might be better choices for Denali for those looking for a more independent experience.

European and other Companies

  • Kobler & Partners: Kari Koebler's guiding company based in Switzerland. I have never used Kari but he is quite popular in Europe. The website is in German.
  • 7 Summits Club: Russia based and run by Alexander Abramov, they run the 7 Summits and cater to Russian and European clients.
  • Adventure Peaks: UK Based guide running Everest North climbs most every year
  • Wilco van Rooijen: Dutch explorer who runs expeditions around the world. I was with Wilco on Broad Peak/K2 2006 expedition. He summited K2 in 2008. He is an incredibly strong climber based out of the Netherlands. Website is in Dutch.
  • Borge Ousland: A modern day Amundsen, Borge runs expeditions to both poles. He was the first person - ever - to go solo and unsupported across Antarctica. I was with him on Cho Oyu in the late '90s. Great person with incredible stories. Website is in English.

Climbing Schools

Insurance and Travel

  • Travelex: Recommended by many international guides. Must buy within 21 days of registering for a climb. I have used them but never made a claim.
  • Global Rescue: Recommended by many commercial guides. I have used them but never made a claim.
  • American Alpine Club: Rescue insurance included with membership, travel insurance for climbers available. I'm a member
  • British Mountaineering Club: Rescue insurance included with membership, travel insurance for climbers available
  • Scan East East Travel: Highly experienced in arranging travel for climbers to any destination around the world. I used them for K2.
  • CTT Destinations: Highly experienced in arranging travel for climbers to any destination around the world. I used them for the 7 Summits.

Weather

  • Everest Weather: Michael Fagin has provided weather services for expeditions for over a decade. Based in Washington State, U.S.
  • MeteoTest: Swiss based service many consider the gold standard
  • Tomer Weather Solutions: Colorado based, a boutique operation supporting small and large clients around the world

* The term 'leading' compared to 'guiding' indicates the expedition does not have a western or lead Sherpa always with the climbers throughout the expedition. This may or may not be important to your selection.


Expedition Companies Reference
Information taken from company websites in late 2014 and are subject to correction and changes.
Visit their sites for latest information.

Company

Founded

Country

Principle

Example Prices (normal route)

Coverage & advertised expeditions

Expertise actual expeditions within last 3 years

(many advertise but do not run all climbs)

Uniqueness

Major Global Guides (extensive programs with stable guides and support staff operating for many years)

Adventure Consultants 1996 New Zealand Guy Cotter

Everest (S): $65K
Cho Oyu: $22K
Aconcagua: $5.15K
Denali: $7.3K
VInson: $39K

7 summits , Asia, North & South America, Africa, New Zealand, Polar Everest, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Mustagata, and more Same core group of Sherpas for years on Everest, Professional office staff.
Alpine Ascents International 1986 US Todd Burleson Everest (S): $65K
Cho Oyu: $22K
Aconcagua:$4.5-5.3K
Denali: $7.3K
Vinson: $39K
7 summits , Asia, North & South America, Africa, Polar Everest, Denali, Aconcagua, Vinson, Kilimanjaro, and more 7 Summits program, Professional office staff. Great for those wanting a bit more help.
International Mountain Guides 1975 US Eric Simonson, Phil Ershler, George Dunn Everest (S): $56.5K Western guide
Everest (S):$41.5K Sherpa guide
Cho Oyu: $17.5K
Aconcagua: $4.6K
Vinson: $39K
7 summits , Asia, North & South America, Africa Everest, Cho Oyu, South America, Canada, and more Full Service, highly experienced.
Jagged Globe 1987 UK Steve Bell Everest (S): $58K
Cho Oyu: $18K
Aconcagua: $5.5K
Denali: $8K
Vinson: $40.2K
7 summits , Asia, North & South America, Africa Cho Oyu, Everest, Shishapangma, and more Global climbs , UK Based.
Mountain Madness 1996 US Mark Gunlogson Everest (S): $64K
Aconcagua: $4.5K
Denali: $7.4-8K
7 summits , Asia, North & South America, Africa Everest, Vinson and more Verify recent trips and performance.

Major Niche Guides (smaller companies or focus on specific mountains or areas)

Himalayan Experience 1994 France Russell Brice

Everest (S): $65K
Everest (N): $64K
Lhotse: $21K
K2: $55K

Himalaya Everest, Manaslu, K2 in 2105 Everest experts. Expensive but worth it.
RMI 1969 US Lou Whittaker

Denali: $7.4K
Aconcagua: $4.7K
Rainier- $1026
Everest (S) $66K w Dave Hahn

North & South America, 7 Summits Rainier, Denali, Everest, Aconcagua, Vinson and more Rainier Experts, expanding internationally.
Mountain Trip 1973 US Bill Allen, Todd Rutledge Aconcagua: $5K
Denali: $7.4-8K
?Everest: $65K
Alaska, Himalaya, South America, Africa, Antarctica Denali, Carstensz, Aconcagua, Vinson, Everest and more Denali Experts, 7 Summits, unclear if running 2015 Everest

Small Custom Operators (small companies that focus on small or custom trips)

Alpenglow 2004 US Adrian Ballinger Everest (N): $80K
Aconcagua: $8.8K
Cho Oyu: $31K
Himalaya, South America Everest, Alpamayo, Aconcagua Short trips at very expensive prices. Excellent safety record
Altitude Junkies 2006 US/Nepal Phil Crampton Everest (S): $45K
Manaslu: $15K
Huascaran: $3.5K
Himalayas, Peru Everest, Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum, Alpamayo Teams of 8 max, excellent BC logistics,
Madison Mountaineering 2013 US Garrett Madison Everest: $58.5K
K2: $58.5K
Makalu: $38.5K
7 Summits Everest, K2, Makalu Best of the latest new companies
Peak Freaks 1983 Canadian Tim & Becky Rippel Everest (S):$48.5-54.5K
Kilimanjaro:$2.68K
Himalaya Everest, Pumori, Aconcagua 'Green' techniques
Project Himalaya   Nepal/New Zealand Jamie McGuinness Everest (N): $40K
Aconcagua:$3,9K
Everest, Shishapangma, Aconcagua, Treks Everest, Shishapangma, Manaslu, treks Excellent BC services, low cost.
Seven Summits Club   Russia Alex Abramov

Everest (N) $50.5K
Aconcagua: $4,7K
Cho Oyu: $28K

7 summits Everest, Denali, Aconcagua, Vinson, Kilimanjaro Climbs for 7 Summits, focuses on Russian market

Budget Logistics Operators (very low cost)

Field Touring Alpine 1997 Australia Dave Hancock Aconcagua: $3.4K
Ama Dablam: $6.2K
Broad Peak: $11.2K
Gasherbrum:$11.2K
South America, Pakistan, Himalaya Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Broad Peak, GII basic logistics with minimal service for experienced and independent climbers.
Summit Climb   US Dan Mazur Everest(S):$35-45K
Everest (N):$27-37K
Cho Oyu: $19.5K
Aconcagua: $3K
South America, Pakistan, Himalaya Everest, Aconcagua, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum, Ama Dablam basic logistics with minimal service. Attracts clients seeking low cost and/or with experience.

Ground Agents (local company that arranges logistics)

Asian Trekking   Nepal Ang Tshering Sherpa Everest (S): $36.3K
Everest (N): $29K
  Everest, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Ama Dablam Famous for their Everest non-guided trips. Prices for 2013.
Seven Summits Treks   Nepal MIngma and Dawa Sherpa   7 Summits plus the 8000m mountains Everest, K2, Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Makalu Nepal based Sherpa operated. Lower cost but pay staff low.
Adventure Tours Pakistan   Pakistan       K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum, Nanga Parbat, Spantak, Muztagh Largest outfitter in Pakistan - 70 climbs and treks a year
Grajales   Argentina       Aconcagua all types of expedition logistic support mules, guides, porters, meals and BC facilities
Marangua   Tanzania     Kilimanjaro Kilimanjaro 40+ years of guiding on Kili with local staff
Servimont   Mexico     Orizaba Iztaccihuatl, Malinche, Nevado de Toluca Iztaccihuatl, Orizaba Strong local presence. Safe, well run operation in Tlachichuca
Manado Adventures   Indonesia Franky Kowaas   Carstensz Pyramid Carstensz Pyramid Strong local operator in all of Indonesia
AlpsIndustria   Russia Sergey Zon-Zam   Elbrus Elbrus Strong local operator for Elbrus and others.
Exposure Alaska   Alaska Don Wray, Tina Green   Alaska Denali Local help with logistics only for a fair price
La Cima   Peru Chris Benway   Peru Cordella Blanca: Huascaran, Alpamayo, Chopicalqui, Millisraju, Tocllaraju, 16 years of providing local logistics for a fair price.

Please see Selecting a Guide for more information