The IMG Gurla Mandhata 2006 Expedition is comprised of a great team of people from all around. They are:
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From New Mexico
Kirk Allen is a trial attorney from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He lives with his wife Charlotte, their horse Linus and their four dogs Dylan, Liza, Suede and Ella. Kirk has been an avid climber for 20 years. He has been on numerous guided and non-guided climbs throughout the world, including successful summits of Mount Elbrus, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Aconcagua, Mount McKinley, Mount Parinacota in Bolivia, Mount Vinson and many peaks in the Rockies and the Cascades. Kirk is also an experienced rock climber, most recently completing a climb of Brazo Cliffs, a classic big wall in northern NM. He is also a student of climbing having completed numerous courses in rock and ice climbing, mountaineering and avalanche training.
Kirk’s dream was to some day climb in the Himalayas. Kirk and friend and fellow climber, David Golden, often discussed the idea of creating their own team to attempt a peak in the Himalayas. While ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado this January, they raised this idea with Jake Norton. Jake was in favor of the idea, but suggested an expedition to Gurla Mandhata, instead of one of the more popular, and more crowded, peaks of the Himalaya. Hence the Gurla Mandhata expedition was born. Everyone is very excited about the challenge of this unique mountaineering experience.
A native of the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, Stuart today resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he and his wife Andrea recently celebrated their first anniversary. Drawn west for college and a love of the mountains, Colorado has been home for fourteen years and a proverbial base camp for numerous excursions to South America, Europe, Africa & Asia. His professional career there, in commercial real estate brokerage, has allowed the ability to structure a lifestyle allowing the opportunity pursue his love for international travel.
Now 32 years old, Stuart's background in climbing began his freshman year in college with rock climbing, ice climbing and eventually mountaineering. Coupled with his love for travel, climbing trips throughout the western United States, the volcanoes in Mexico and to the Cordillera Blanca in Peru together with the extensive climbing opportunities in his own back yard are much of inspiration behind why he is heading to Gurla Mandhata this Fall.
Having spent a wonderful year abroad as an exchange student in Norway, Stuart readily took advantage of a semester abroad program to Nepal through Colorado College and the School for International Training in 1993. This was his first time to a developing country and sparked interest in the amazing people, scenery and history of remote places the world holds in store. Returning to that part of the world and continuing onward to the Tibetan Plateau & circumambulating Mt. Kailash has been a dream for years. But combining that dream with the chance to climb one of the world’s great peaks makes this a true once in a lifetime dream trip.
David Golden and Cynthia Dodson live in the Washington DC area with their two pampered Canaan Dogs, Keziah and Kaleb. David is the co-director of Ernst & Young's capital markets tax practice group, and Cynthia is a paralegal at a DC law firm specializing in derivative financial products. As a result, they can make fascinating conversation at parties. David has been climbing for over 15 years.
He has climbed extensively in Alaska, the Cascades, the Sierras, the Rockies and the Alps, and he has participated in expeditions to the Himalayas, the Andes and Antarctica. Cynthia has done a little climbing but loves most to travel in exotic locales.
In the fall of 2005 David and Cynthia were members of IMG’s first Bhutan trek. It was a spectacular experience. On the long flight back, the video programming included an episode of Michael Wood’s series In Search of Myths and Heroes. This was the first part - In Search of Shangri-La - where Michael Wood explores the basis for the myth of Shangri-La or, as it is called in Tibetan, Shambala. Struck by the sacred landscape and the story of a place where the people live in accordance with Buddhist precepts and prepare for the day when the world will be ready to live in peace, Cynthia declared that if she could visit there, she would be content to never travel anywhere again.
In addition to the Americans on the team, we will have an incredible group of Nepali people supporting us on our trek and climb. I have worked with all of them before, and can say they are an amazing group!
Phortse, Khumbu, Nepal
An amazing guy and amazing climber, Panuru has been all over the place. I first worked with him in 1997 on Cho Oyu, and have been on 5 subsequent expeditions with him. I am always amazed by the scope and breadth of his climbing background - from his many Everest summits to the north side of Makalu, Panuru has been around the block and then some. He is also a graduate of the Khumbu Climbing School.
Pemba Tshiri Sherpa
Pemba is a great friend, and the most amazing cook - and person - I know. I have been fortunate enough to go on 7 expeditions to 8000 meter peaks with Pemba, and he never ceases to amaze me. Full of good nature and joy, Pemba works dawn till dusk to keep camp in tip-top shape and all his clients happy and healthy...and full! It will be a joy to work with him again!
Mingma Chhiring Sherpa
Phortse, Khumbu, Nepal
I have been on Everest with Mingma in the past, but never worked with him specifically. But, his reputation stands before him: strong, multiple Everest summits, great person, reliable. These are just some of the words I have heard describe him. Looking forward to getting to know Mingma on the expedition!
Karma Rita Sherpa
Phortse, Khumbu, Nepal
On May 18, 2002, Karma and I reached the top of Everest via the Southeast Ridge. It was the first time for both of us, and was quite a day. Snow had fallen the night before, and we had to break trail from the Balcony up to the top...It was a lot of work! We were out front because I was shooting for Discovery and needed to be in position to take good shots. Karma was a trooper on that expedition, and I have worked with him on subsequent trips - he is a great guy, incredibly strong, and a joy to climb with!
Bal Bahadur Gharti
While I have not met Bal Bahadur yet, I have heard great things. He is a hard worker, kind, generous, and full of laughter. From the Tamang tribe, Bal Bahadur is the only member of our official expedition team who is not Sherpa. But, that will not be an issue in the least: Bal Bahadur has already been around Kailash this summer, and has been on countless other expeditions across the Nepal Himalaya. He'll be a welcome addition to our team!
In addition to the permanent expedition team, we will of course have the help and support of many other people. Most importantly, we will employ a great many porters to help transport our equipment and supplies from Simikot in Humla to the Tibetan border town of Hilsa. While I do not yet know the porters we will have with us, I know from experience they will be an amazing group.
The porters of Nepal are a rare breed of person: strong beyond belief, kind beyond measure, and noble as anyone I have met. They work exceptionally hard, carrying heavy loads through the highest mountains in the world. Sadly, this dedicated service is often thankless, as many porters are mistreated and neglected by their expedition organizers.
I am fortunate enough to be a Board Member of Porters' Progress, a 501(3)c non-profit organization which helps the Nepali mountain porters change their lives and better their situations. Please take a moment to visit Porters' Progress and learn more about the plight of Nepali mountain porters and, more importantly, what you can do to help!
And, finally, I want to thank our expedition organizers. The trip would not have come together without the knowledge, hard work, and experience of my good friend Eric Simonson, who is co-owner of International Mountain Guides, the best guide service out there. Additionally, we have incredible resources on the ground with Great Escapes Trekking & Expeditions and the team of Ang Jangbu, Soman, Passang, and many more. Thank you!