The climbers, scientists, and correspondents

The Alpine Ascents Everest 1997 Climbing and Support Team in Base Camp

Climbing Guide & Expedition Leader
Todd has achieved unparalleled success in the mountain guiding industry and is considered among the top guides in the world. He has led seven expeditions to Mt. Everest (summiting twice) and has led successful expeditions on every continent, including all of the Seven Summits. Todd has excellent guiding success throughout the world. In addition to instructing mountaineering training courses, he has recently led successful expeditions to Carstensz Pyramid, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Cho-Oyu, Mt. Vinson and Mt. Everest.

Expedition Sirdar
Lhakpa has been the lead climbing sherpa (sirdar) on Burleson's team for years and helps organize much of the expedition on and off the mountain. Extremely strong at altitude, he has guided numerously on Everest (with 2 summits), Makalu, Pumori, Cho-oyu, and Ama Dablam among others.

AAI Climbing Guide
Exuberant in his love for the mountains, Wally is one of the most active American's on 8,000m peaks. He has summitted Mt. Cho-Oyu, Mt. Lhotse (first American to summit) and Mt. Everest twice. Other noteworthy climbs include Mt. Vinson and a fantastic track record on Kilimanjaro with three ascents in the past two years.

His intimate knowledge of Nepal and the Himalayan regions have helped make him a highly respected climber. Last season Wally taught a number of mountaineering courses and led expeditions to Mt. Everest, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Elbrus.

Team Computer Expert
This is UK climber Charles Corfield's second expedition to Mount Everest, where he will be part of the summit team. He has climbed extensively around the world including Antarctica, the Andes, and North America.

Charles is a graduate of Cambridge University, England, where he majored in mathematics and theoretical physics. He is a certified EMT and has a keen interest in high altitude physiology.

Climbing Guide
Simonson has been on Everest five times and made more than 20 Himalayan climbs including Cho-Oyu. He recently resigned a 25-year position with Rainier Mountaineering to establishing his own new guide service on Rainier, called Rainier Alpine Guides and will be running its first trip this summer. He's tall, easy going and right out of the Central Casting Department. He lives near Mount Rainier.

Climbing Guide
Wilson lives in Sun Valley, ID; he's a short, stocky, strong guy who's funny and very unpretentious. He's been to Everest four times, but always from the north side, this is his first time in the Khumbu.

Leslie is a New Yorker who has retired and returned to a life of adventure in the mountains. On a guided climb with Eric Simonson and Greg Wilson, he's already taken some heavy flak for his photography jones, or as Charles Corfield likes to say, "his too frequent Kodak-moments. He'll be 68 on May 3, 1997.

Plate-Tectonic Geophysicist
Fred is the on-site science manager for the expedition. He'll be working with the AAI climbers who intend to carry GPS technology to the summit to not only gauge movement of the peak, but attempt to measure, with radar, the exact location of the mountain's bedrock hidden beneath snow and ice. Fred's PhD work at the University of Colorado in Boulder involves using the Survey of India's 1950 height-and-position study of Everest to determine details of the earthquake history and future of the Himalaya. In the last two autumns ('95 and '96), he's walked from Tibet to India leading an 8-man expedition using equipment similar to that being carried up the mountain this year.

Other skills and interests include: Certified Nordic Downhill Instructor, Professional Ski Instructors of America; FAA Private Pilot; Expedition Mountaineering Experience in South America, Europe, Alaska, and North Africa. (We suspect he may in fact also be Spiderman.)

Mountain Zone Correspondent
Reporting during the early part of the climb this year is Mountain Zone editor Peter Potterfield, who will accompany the Alpine Ascents International 1997 Everest Expedition to the mountain. Potterfield is a veteran mountaineering writer who has contributed to Outside, Conde Nast Traveler, Readers Digest, Summit, Backpacker and other national magazines. His latest book, In the Zone, chronicles epic climbing stories, including Scott Fischer's ascent of K2. Potterfield will file dispatches as frequently as time and satellite phone batteries permit.

[Click here to see a surround video of the team.]
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  • Chewang Nima
    (4 Everest Summits)
  • Nima Tashi
    (3 Everest Summits)
  • Kami Rita
    (2 Everest Summits)
  • Danu
    (1 Everest Summit)
  • Gelzen
    (1 Everest Summit)
  • Dawa Tshering
    (3 Everest Summits)
  • Norbu
    (3 Everest Summits)
  • Pemba
    (1 Everest Summit)
  • Ang Dawa
  • Karsang
  • Mingma Tshering
  • Pemba Norbu
  • Passang Norbu (Nawang)
  • Fu Renjee
  • Fur Gelzen
  • Daw
  • Ong Chu
  • Gopal

Photos by Peter Potterfield, Todd Burleson, and Wally Berg