July 3, 2013
I’m sure that everyone has the intention to get married only once and therefore, we only have one opportunity to plan a honeymoon. I surprised my wife on the day of our wedding in early October with the information that we would be climbing Rainier with IMG in June. Needless to say, she was thrilled and our training began shortly thereafter.
We knew that the traditional honeymoon would not suit us as we wanted to accomplish something together. We wanted to be active, to practice teamwork and trust, and to be a part of something that we could not accomplish on our own; IMG delivered in every way. We learned together and, just as our appreciation and respect for the mountain grew, so did our appreciation and respect for each other.
Of course, the celebration of our marriage at the top of Washington wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing assistance provided by your guides. Jenni was an inspiration for calmness when mountain conditions became difficult during our descent; positive and informative, Jenni’s fearlessness, patience, and kind spirit are qualities that make her an ideal lead guide and encouraged a sense of confidence throughout the group. Jenni made us feel even more proud of our accomplishment when she explained that, “Some people get a summit. Some people get a storm. You got both.”
Josh is an amazing teacher. He is always professional, stressing the fundamentals of climbing – and still, he maintains a sense of humor that allows his ‘mountain students’ to feel comfortable with asking him questions. His optimism was undeniable and contagious. The experience that Josh brought forth let us know that we were learning from the best. It was clear that Josh wanted to summit with us but, when a member of our team couldn’t press on, Josh immediately and quietly volunteered to return to Camp Schurman. Josh shared stories that instilled a sense of respect for the mountain in our team.
When Josh returned to camp, I roped in with Blair. Immediately, Blair’s leadership was apparent as he warned our group of dangerous spots, encouraged us, and had us practice different stepping techniques. Blair was always willing to do whatever necessary to ensure that our team was comfortable, in good spirits, and was well fed! The night I returned to IMG HQ, I went out to eat at a local restaurant and was amazed to see Blair sitting with another group’s team dinner that he would be assisting with the following day! I knew immediately that the team was in good hands.
Ian sat with our team at Camp Schurman on the day before summiting. He shared with us his journey to become a guide, his passions outside of guiding, and his wealth of knowledge for climbing. When a teammate became tired just before the summit, Blair radioed to Ian to encourage our tired teammate. While remaining calm, Ian lifted our tired teammate’s spirits and he summited soon after.
Most importantly, throughout our journey, we always felt safe. The guides worked as a team – helping to share the load of tremendous responsibilities, cooperating to build off each others’ strengths, and sharing a sense of humor that our entire team could relate to.
I chose to climb with IMG because of the outstanding reviews and because of selection of climbs offered… and I will choose to climb with IMG again. Please feel free to share this email and the attached pictures with others at IMG and please be sure it finds its way to Jenni, Josh, Blair, and Ian.
Geoff and Kelsey Kaiser