Category: 7 Summits

Everest Team Healthy And Moving Well

Kurt Wedberg and Fred Simmons on the deck of the Everest View Hotel above Namche Bazaar. The peak to the right is Ama Dablam. Everest is obscured by clouds behind.

Greetings from Namche Bazaar at 3440m/11,286′.  This village is located in a small natural amphitheater where three major routes coming from different valleys intersect.  The location of Namche makes it a natural center of commerce for the area.
We arrived here on March 29 with the intention of staying here three nights before continuing to higher elevation.  We checked in to the Khumbu Lodge, which is a well known tea house where many famous climbers have stayed over the years.
On March 30 we took a day hike to a couple nearby villages that are higher in elevation to see the sights and acclimatize.  Our first stop was the Everest View Hotel.  As the name suggests it is possible to see Everest from its perch.  Clouds obscured Everest but we were able to see several scenic and beautiful peaks including the stunning Ama Dablam (6856m/22,493′), which is known among the mountaineering community as being one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.  We sat on the deck of the hotel and sipped hot chocolates while enjoying the vistas before continuing on to the village of Khumjung at 3780m/12,401′.  Sir Edmund Hillary was instrumental in building a school here for the Sherpa community back in 1961.  Today 500+ kids attend school here from several villages including Namche.  The kids in Namche daily walk up and down the 440m/1444′ change in elevation for their education.  We visited the school and had lunch before descending back to Namche where we had a little time to relax and hydrate before dinner.

Kurt and Fred at the school at Khumjung (3780m/12,401'). After Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest he spent much of his life work to helping the Sherpa community. He helped found many schools including this one in 1961. The statue behind is a monument commemorating Hillary.

March 31 was a rest day for us.  We visited the local market where people are selling local vegetables, fruit, meat, and grains.  Team members also took time to shop in the tourist markets where they sell Tibetan made wool and silk rugs, yak wool shawls and scarfs, locally made beads, necklaces, yak bells and much more.  After lunch, a group of trekkers walked up to the rim of Namche’s amphitheater to visit the Sagarmatha National Park Conservation Museum and the Sherpa Museum that highlights and honors some of the famous Sherpas in mountaineering history.
Feeling healthy and strong we’re ready to pack up tomorrow for our move to the next village up the valley; Deboche at 3820m/12,533′.
Below are a few more pictures taken by Kurt Wedberg.   We will keep trying to upload more to the SMI photo gallery at

The village of Namche Bazaar sits in an amphitheater in the mountains of Nepal at 3440m/11,286'.

A Nepali lady at market day in Namche Bazaar.

Yak bells for sale in Namche Bazaar.

Sherpani's conducting business at market day i Namche Bazaar.

Men buying and selling fruit at market day in Namche Bazaar.

A local porter (left) buying fruit at the market in Nmche Bazaar.

The local meat market in Namche Bazaar.

A Nepali man selling hot peppers at the market in Namche Bazaar.

Kids in Khumjung.

Everest Team Is On It’s Way!

Fred and Kurt greeted upon arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Kurt Wedberg and good friend of SMI Fred Simmons have embarked on their much anticipated expedition to Mt. Everest! After all the planning and preparation they had one last meal with Fred’s family in Los Angeles then boarded a Thai Airlines flight bound for Kathmandu, Nepal on March 24. We will attempt to share highlights of the journey through this blog. This is the first entry as written by Kurt Wedberg:

Our last meal with Fred's family before flying to Kathmandu.

Fred boarding our Thai Airlines flight to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Greetings from the town of Phakding at 2620m/8596′ in the Khumbu region of Nepal.  All the altitudes are in meters here.  To convert we multiply by 3.2808.

After 24+ hours of travel from LA to Kathmandu landing on March 26 we spent two nights and one day in Nepal’s capitol city making final preparations before starting our trek into Everest Base Camp. We organized our equipment into gear that will be shipped by yak directly to Base Camp and other necessities that will be used during our 11-day trek. Fred and I have tacked ourselved onto a large tea run by my good friend Eric who has been organizing Everest expeditions for many years. We will be using all their logistics and support and be able to climb on our own schedule.

On March 28 we left our hotel at 4:45am and soon were at the airport where local flights originate from (versus where the international flights go in and out of).  A bit of organized chaos ensued as we got 23 people plus 23 duffle bags through security.  Shortly after 6am we were called to our flight and boarded a Twin Otter that holds about 15 people.  We divided into two groups on separate planes and took off on the 45 minute flight that ended at the village of Lukla at 2840m/9300′ in the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal.  This airport is a trip.  The runway is angled at 11 degrees.  This helps the airplane stop on this short runway.  Upon exiting the plane there are several Nepali police officers who love blowing their whistles incessantly as we walk off the tarmac.

The first order of business was to get 23 porters matched with our 23 duffle bags.  While that was going on we took some time to have a little breakfast.  There are little bakery’s in Luka that have espresso and cinnamon rolls.  This mountaineering business is tough work!!  At 7:45am we took off on our trek.  Today was a very easy trek.  We had very little uphill mixed in with mostly downhill hence how we ended up 220 meters lower than where we started.  We took a leisurely pace and got to Phakding 3 hours after leaving Lukla.

We’re staying in tea houses.  These are little lodges that exist all up and down the Khumbu region.  They have simple bedrooms and a dining room.  The menus are pretty similar at all of them.  There are American dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, and chips (french fries to you and me).  They also have traditional Nepali food including dahl baht (rice with lentils) and momo’s, which are steamed dumplings with vegetables or meat.

For the next day of our trek we plan to hike approximately 6 hours to Namche Bazar at 3440m/11,286′. We plan to spend 3 nights here acclimatizing before trekking farther up the valley towards Everest Base Camp.

We will try to share a few photos from our journey on this blog. This may not always be possible though so we will also have them posted on the SMI Photo Gallery site here:

Upon arrival in Lukla we had espresso and fresh baked goodies at a local bakery before starting our trek.

Kurt at a Buddhist monument along the trekking route.

A young Sherpa watches from a distance as we trek by his home.

Fred crossing a suspension bridge over the Dudh Koshi River.

East African Safari: Plentiful Animals and Great Times!

After a successful climb of Kilimanjaro the team said goodbye to Caleb, John, and April.  Caleb and John began their journey home.  SMI guide April Mayhew stayed behind in Moshi to run in the Kilimanjaro Marathon.  Three days after standing on top of Kilimanjaro April placed a very respectable second among female non-Africans then caught up with the rest of the group for the last three days of safari.  Congratulations April!  The rest of the team took off on a game viewing safari to see up close some of the most fascinating animals on our planet.

Over the course of five days the team visited Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, and the great Serengeti Plains.  In addition to seeing a wide range of exotic wildlife our safaris are also a rich cultural experience.  We spent some time with kids at a local orphanage as has become traditional on our trips.  We also visited a local Masai Village where we were treated to traditional Masai dancing ceremonies, saw the mud huts they live in, and we were given the opportunity to purchase jewelry items.  We also visited Olduvai Gorge which is rich in archeological history.  Bones of many extinct animals have been found in this area.  It is also the sight where the archeologists Tom and Mary Leakey discovered the oldest homonid footprints.

Wildlife was prevalent throughout our safari.  Below are a few pictures.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Game Viewing Safari February 25-29, 2012

Rhonda, Kurt, Jackie, and Janet on safari at Lake Manyara National Park.

Two lioness sisters resting in a tree at Lake Manyara National Park.

Male lion in the Serengeti.

Cape buffalo with a stork on its back in Lake Manyara National Park.

Wart hog family in Lake Manyara National Park.

Wildebeest mother and calf. 185,000+ wildebeests are born within a two week period in October each year. This insures the survival of the species.

Male and female impalas at Lake Manyara National Park.

Janet, Rhonda, Kurt, and Jackie in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Female spotted hyena on the Serengeti plains.

Male agama lizard sunning itself on a kopje rock outcropping in the Serengeti.

Grants Gazelle in the Serengeti.

Zebras resting in the Serengeti.

Young teenage elephants in the Serengeti.

When a giraffe bends over to drink it is in its most vulnerable position for predators.

Giraffe eating leaves from an acacia tree in the Serengeti.

Vitelline Masked Weaver at Olduvai Gorge.

Abdim's Stork in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Male Cory Bustard bird puffed up looking for a mate in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Red Collared Widowbird

Egyptian Goose in the Serengeti.

Secretary birds on top of an acacia tree in the Serengeti.

Saddle-billed Stork in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Janet, April, Kurt, Jackie, and Rhonda at our hotel in Karatu during our safari.

Traditionally dressed Masai women during our visit to their village.

Rhonda, Jackie, and Janet were invited to join the Masai ladies in their traditional dance.

Masai warriors conducting a traditional mens dance and jumping ceremony.

A Masai man shows us inside his mud hut where he and his family live while he shares with us their way of life.

Masai jewelry for sale at their village.

Kilimanjaro Summit Success!!

February 23, 2012 6:15am. Summit photo on Kilimanjaro. Team members from left to right: Rogati Lucas, Caleb Fiske, Rhonda Bellavia, Kurt Wedberg, Janet Lacey, April Mayhew, Hillary

SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg just returned from Tanzania where they led another successful climb of Kilimanjaro.  Team members included Rhonda Bellevia, Caleb Fiske, Jackie Hammitt, Janet Lacey, and John Lafaro.  Several team members used this climb as a fundraiser for Big City Mountaineers (  The money raised will help this well respected organization bring underprivileged and inner city youth on 7 and 8 day backpacking trips this summer.

The team met in Moshi, Tanzania where we spent one day to relax after the long flights, pack our gear for the climb, take a hike in the forest near our hotel, and eat a traditional Chagga meal of banana soup.  On February 18 the team took off for Kilimanjaro National Park and the gate at the start of the Umbwe Route which would be our ascent route of the mountain.

Kilimanjaro is the only place in the world where one can pass through five different temperate zones over a 5-day period.  We start in a jungle environment at 6000’/1829m and by the time we’ve reached the summit at 19,348’/5895m we’re in the alpine zone.  Along the way we were met with every type of weather possible from warm sun to rain, foggy white out conditions to clear days, and we even had some snowfall at the higher elevations.  The team adapted beautifully to the changing conditions keeping a great attitude throughout.

For all team members (besides the guides) climbing Kilimanjaro would be a new personal altitude record.  It was a joy watching this group of people who came from California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas mold into a super fun, supportive, and efficient climbing team over the course of this 7-day climb.

Congratulations everybody on a job well done!!

A few pictures are below.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Kilimanjaro February 18-24, 2012

The team ready to start the climb of Kilimanjaro at the Umbwe park gate.

The team at a rest break in the jungle on the first day of the climb.

John enjoying a lunch break in the jungle.

Inside the dining tent at the end of day 1. One of the countless jovial moments during this climb.

Kurt Wedberg performing a little first aid on one of our local Chagga staff.

February 19, day 2 of the climb. The team leaves its camp in the jungle at Umbwe Cave headed for Barranco Camp at 3940m/12,926'.

Our first view of Kilimanjaro from the jungle.

Gladiola flower along our route.

Janet Lacey at the front of the team enjoying the hike as the route rises out of the jungle.

Caleb takes time out for a gymnastics workout during our hike!

Jackie enjoying the views as the team rises out of the jungle.

The elated team reaches Barranco Camp at 3940m/12,926'

Jackie hugs a Giant Senacio tree near Barranco Camp.

Barranco Camp with the Western Breach Wall of Kilimanjaro behind.

The team and our Chagga staff enjoying an afternoon game of hacky sack at Barranco Camp.

The team at Lava Tower during an acclimatization hike. An afternoon snowstorm would not dampen this teams spirits.

February 21, day 4 of the climb the team leaves Barranco Camp headed to the next step; Karanga Camp at 3930m/12,893'

Rhonda and Caleb en route to Karanga Camp.

The team arrives at Karanga Camp 3930m/12,893'. Back row: John Lafaro,Hillary, Rhonda Bellavia, Caleb Fiske, Kurt Wedberg, and April Mayhew. Front row: Janet Lacey, Jackie Hammett, and Rogati Lucas.

Sunset over Mt. Meru. The peak is a dormant volcano at 4566m/14,980' about 60 miles away from Kilimanjaro.

February 22, day 5 of the climb. The team packed and ready to leave for Barafu Camp at 4600m/15,100'.

The team enjoying the climb to our high camp.

April Mayhew and Rhonda leading the way close to high camp.

Team members having a cup of hot tea before beginning the summit climb.

Streaking headlamps during the pre dawn hours of the summit climb.

Rhonda and Kurt shortly before dawn as the team reaches the crater rim of Kilimanjaro.

Team members silhouetted as the sun rises over the African plains.

Summit success on Kilimanjaro!!

Kilimanjaro casting its shadow across the African plains at sunrise.

SMI guide April Mayhew standing proud on the crater rim of Kilimanjaro at the start of the descent after guiding another successful ascent of Kilimanjaro; her 3rd ascent in the past year!

Celebration dinner after another successful climb of Kilimanjaro. Congratulations Team!!

Tanzanian Orphanage Visit June 26, 2011

Steve and Sarah helped distribute dollies at the Kilimanjaro Orphanage.

As has become customary on our Africa trips we pay a visit to at least one orphanage.  HIV and AIDS is still a very big issue in Africa and orphanages are overflowing with kids who’s parents have fallen victim to this epidemic.  What little SMI can do to bring a little cheer into these kids lives we feel very humbled and honored to be able to do.  Sarah MacDonald and Steve Schumm joined SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg for this visit.  As we did with our visit in February we brought with us hand made dolls courtesy of Cindy Simon and a group of talented ladies who sew these to distribute to kids all over the world.  A big thank you to Cindy and all the ladies who help make possible delivering these special dollies to the kids.

A few pictures are below.  The entire photo gallery including some video can be found here:

Kilimanjaro Orphanage June 26, 2011

Sarah giving out some of the dollies.

Kurt handing out dollies to some of the kids.

Steve with one of the kids at the orphanage.

One of the kids with her new dollies.

The children and their new dollies. Each dollie is unique and sewn by hand.

After our visit kids always follow us when we leave.

April getting her bicep workout courtesy of one this child.

See you next time. Our next trip is in January / February 2012!!

East African Safari June 21-25, 2011

After a highly successful and emotional climb of Kilimanjaro the team then ventured off on a game viewing safari.  We offer safari’s as part of a package with our Kilimanjaro climbs.  They are always fun and they never disappoint.  Since animal behavior is never completely predictable it is always a treat to watch the days unfold.  The only thing we know is that we will get to view some of the most legendary wildlife on our planet.  We visited Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and Olduvai Gorge.  We also visited a Masai Village.  Below are a few pictures highlighting some of our animal sightings.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Safari June 21-25, 2011

Dik Dik's - the smallest of all the antelopes.

Thompson's Gazella



Topi in the Serengeti.

Male and female impalas in the Serengeti.

There are over 1100 bird species in East Africa.  We see many on safari.  Here are a few of them:

Grey Crowned Crane

Augur Buzzard

Egyptian Goose

Cory Bustard Bird. The largest flying bird in the world.

Male ostrich

Hildebrandt's Starling

Supurb Starling

Black Rhino. The rhino population has been decimated by hunters and poachers. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places where they can still be seen. There are currently 26 living in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Cape buffalos

African elephants

Teenage elephants playing in the Serengeti.

When eating Masai Giraffe's use their long tongue to wrap around thorny acacia trees

Masai Giraffe's in the Serengeti.

Hippos in the Serengeti.

A lioness resting in the tall grass.

A pride of lions in the Ngorongoro Crater.

A lioness in a tree at the Ngorongoro Crater.

Spotted hyena mother and her offspring.

Cheetah in the Serengeti.

Kilimanjaro June 2011 Wrap Up

6:45 AM June 19, 2011 - On the summit of Kilimanjaro.

This is a summary of our recently completed Kilimanjaro climb written by Kurt Wedberg.

Our June Kilimanjaro trip was another great success.  The climbers included people from Canada and from both coasts on the USA.  Some were new to the SMI experience and others were long time friends.  Sunniva Sorby and Kurt Wedberg both have roots with Adventure 16 Outdoor and Travel Outfitters where both were introduced to the outdoor industry.  Sunniva has since traveled the world as a lecturer, explorer, adventurer, and guide.  She gathered together a group of ladies to raise money and awareness for kids in Africa affected by AIDS.  Also joining us were several friends of SMI who have all been on trips with us in the past.  Team members included:  Rosemary Berard, Kelly Dunfee, Barbara Falco, Jody Foster, Bettina Hiniker-Breckenfeld, Shena Hinks, Sarah MacDonald, John Risickella, Steve Schumm, Sunniva Sorby, Kathleen Urdahl, and Margaret Webb.  Joining this group were SMI guides Karsten Delap, April Mayhew, and Kurt Wedberg.

Everybody who started on this trip made it all the way to the summit and back down… that’s 15 out of 15 to the summit!!!  A big congratulations to everybody on a job well done!!

Below are a few pictures from the climb.  The rest of the pictures can be found here:

Kilimanjaro June 2011

The team at the park gate ready to go!!

Jody, Rosie, Margaret, April, and Kelly hiking through the jungle trail on Day 1.

The Kilimanjaro Impatients. The jungles on Kilimanjaro are the only place in the world this flower grows.

Shena, Kathleen, and crew hiking through the jungle on day 1.

Kelly, Sunniva, BArbara, and Bettina are all smiles upon getting their first glimpse of Kilimanjaro on day 2.

Helichrysum flower. There are severaly types of these "everlastings" on Kilimanjaro.

Barbara and Jody enjoying the day 2 hike.

Sunniva and Kurt with the summit of Kilimanjaro poking through the clouds.

"Sista Sarah" enjoying one of the many dramatic views Kilimanjaro offers.

The team arriving at Barranco Camp 12,926'/3940m at the end of day 2.

The team assembled in the dining tent. From left to right: Sunniva, Battina, Margaret, Kelly, Steve, John, Karsten, April, Rosie, Barbara, Jody, Kathleen, and Shena.

A porter starting off on day 3 from camp.

John ready to start off on day 3. John went on the first international trip SMI ran to Mexico's Volcanoes and has been a good friend of SMI ever since.

Giant Senacio trees at 13,000'/3962m.

Climbing the Barranco Wall.

Shena, Kathleen, and Karsten topping out on Barranco Wall at 14,000'/4267m.

Kurt and April on top of Barranco Wall with the Heim Glacier and Kilimanjaro's summit dome behind.

Steve is all smiles high above the clouds on top of Barranco Wall.

The team poses for a group photo next to a grove of Giant Senacio trees.

Traversing along the moonscape on the flanks of Kilimanjaro en route to Karanga Camp.

Climbing out of Karanga Valley the last hill before our next camp.

The team arrives at Karanga Camp 12,893'/3930m.

The Big Dipper above Kilimanjaro. The star show every night is always a blessing to see.

The team starts climbing to high camp.

Steve, Margaret, John, Shena, and Kathleen focused and psyched to move to high camp.

April and Karsten en route to high camp.

Headlamps on in the tents as the team wakes up for summit day!

Tea time before starting off on summit day!!

The group's string of headlamps light up a pristine crisp night under a blanket of stars.

The team pacing themselves well in the wee hours of the night.

The team catching the view of sunrise from the east as it casts it's glow over the Africa plains far below.

Traversing around the crater rim of Kilimanjaro. The summit is the highest point in the distance.

Summit photo. 100% to the highest point on the African continent: 19,340'/5895m

Congratulations team on a job well done!!!!

Another trip of a lifetime on safari!

Our Kilimanjaro team got down from the mountain and had a great celebration dinner in Moshi on June 20.  The following day we headed out in three Land Rovers for a game viewing safari.  One day was spent at one of the seven natural wonders of the world when we toured the impressive Ngorongoro Crater.  We also spent two nights in the infamous Serengeti Plains, plus visited Lake Manyara, which is famous for its diverse bird populations and lions who climb trees, and experienced Olduvai Gorge where numerous fossils of extinct animals are still being discovered.

A more comprehensive report is forthcoming.  In the meantime we wanted to share a couple quick photos highlighting a couple of our animal sightings:

Above : A lioness in the trees, June 25, 2011.

Below : A cheetah in the Serengeti, June 24, 2011.

Summit Success on Kilimanjaro!

On June 19 our entire team reached the summit of Kilimanjaro (19,340’/5895m) at 6:45am led by SMI guides Karsten Delap, April Mayhew, and Kurt Wedberg.

Everybody returned safely and had a nice celebration dinner on June 20.  The team is now headed out on a game viewing safari for a few days.

We will have more details about this very memorable climb upon our return from safari.  Thank you everybody for all your prayers and good thoughts!

Kilimanjaro June 2011 trip is on the way!

Kilimanjaro (19,340'/5895m) from farming fields outside of Moshi, Tanzania.

We are always excited to return to Africa.  Team members have begun traveling to Tanzania from different parts of the globe.  Our objective will be to climb Kilimanjaro via the Umbwe Route.  After the climb we have a game viewing safari planned in the famed Serengeti plains and the Ngorongoro Crater.  Along the way some of the group members will also visit Tarangiri, Lake Manyara, and the famous archeological site at Olduvai Gorge.

We will try to keep you updated on the progress of our climb.  Joining us on this trip of a lifetime are:  Rosemary Berard, Kelly Dunfee, Barbara Falco, Jody Foster, Bettini Hiniker, Shena Hinks, Kathleeen Urdahl, Margaret Webb, Sunniva Sorby, Sarah Macdonald, John Risickella, Steve Schumm, Karsten Delap, April Mayhew, and Kurt Wedberg.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during our travels.  We look forward to being in touch again soon!!

Sunniva Sorby freshly arriving in Nairobi.

Kurt Wedberg at the Nairobi airport.

April Mayhew with luggage at the Nairobi airport.

Team members enjoying fresh air and a late night drink after the long flights to Africa.