Berg Adventures World-Class Mountain Guides and Support Staff
Our International Mountain Guides
Wally Berg, Chief Guide and BAI Founder
Wally Berg is one of the most respected guides in the mountaineering world. With four Everest summits to his credit and over three decades of expedition-leading experience, Wally is world-renowned for his expertise, knowledge and mountaineering accomplishments. He was the first American on the summit of Lhotse (1990), and he stood on the summit of Cho Oyu, alone, in 1987.
Wally's achievements in planning, organizing, and guiding successful mountaineering expeditions have established him as one of world’s foremost expedition leaders. Successful expeditions to Mt. Everest, Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, more than 25 times guiding ascents of Mount Elbrus in Russia and over 50 times leading Kilimanjaro climbs have marked Wally’s career in recent years. On Aconcagua his expeditions are known for superb organization and support as well as exceptionally high summit success rates.
The goal of climbing the highest peak on all seven continents has been attained by a number of Wally's climbers. And the list of those "having fun trying" is even longer. Wally’s expeditions are known for attention to detail in planning and execution, cultural sensitivity, and international travel planned with an “every hour of ever day counts” attitude. Travel and learning are at the heart of all Wally’s mountaineering and adventure trips.
Vladimir has been a mainstay of Berg Adventures successful ascents on Mount Elbrus since 2002. His experience includes over 90 Elbrus summits since 1997 as well as a number of other challenging peaks in the Pamirs and Caucasus ranges. He has extensive experience traveling and working in the Antarctic, having been named the Head of the Geological-Geophysical Investigation Department at the Ukrainian Antarctic Centre since 1995. He has participated in Ukranian Antarctic expeditions for 8 of the last 10 years, wintering at the Ukrainian Antarctic station, Akademik Vernadsky.
When not guiding clients for Berg Adventures, he is currently the lead researcher of the Institute of Geophysics at the National Academy of Sciences of the Ukraine, Kiev. He is also a professor at the Kiev State University.
Brent Bishop's roots as a mountaineer and expedition leader run deep. Brent's father Barry made the first ascent of Ama Dablam in 1961 and stood on the summit of Everest with the first American Expedition in 1963. Young Brent lived in Nepal at the age of 3 and 4 and he has returned there many times to climb.
In 1994, Brent was part of the Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition (SEE) and summited Mount Everest himself. On this trip more than 5000 pounds of trash were removed from Everest and a new paradigm for environmental work at altitude was set. SEE showed that a small team on a shoestring budget could climb successfully as well as make an environmental impact. Under Brent's supervision SEE work continued in '96, '97, '98 and '99. In all 20,000 pounds of trash were removed from Everest.
Now a two-time Everest summiter, Brent has also managed projects in the Baltoro Region of Pakistan. While leading a climbing Expedition to Gasherbrum II in 1997, his Porter Training Institute educated more than 251 Balti people in first aid, health and environmental topics. He was part of the successful BAI guide team on a recent expedition to Ama Dablam and Lobuche Peak.
Brent is a successful businessman, administrator and athlete. He epitomizes the BAI approach that mountaineering is about people. Accomplished on both rock and ice in North America and the Alps, Brent's judgment and leadership have been refined at altitude on every continent.
Since leaving her hometown of Aspen, Colorado in 1975, Kellie Erwin has dedicated her life to adventure, climbing and outdoor education. Her diverse blend of experiences has taken her from the high Himalayas including Mount Everest, and Gasherbrum II, to the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, the New Zealand Alps, as well as to the rivers and mountains of North and South America, the jungles of Borneo and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Kellie's professional endeavors include becoming an AMGA certified Mountain Guide where she served on the board and helped develop their ski and accreditation programs.
Kellie's climbing and expedition resume includes four trips to Mount Everest, 100's of first ascents of rock and alpine routes in North America, and the first Nordic ski traverse of Denali. She is one of BAI’s head guides on Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro and Russia’s Mt. Elbrus. Her work in adventure documentary cinematography with projects such as the CBS film "Footprint on Everest" and the documentary "Everest at the Millennium", has received awards, and has established Kellie's competency in yet another arena of wilderness performance.
John Freeman is a talented athlete who has focused on mountain climbing for the last 8 years. His endless enthusiasm for people and climbing are what makes him such a great leader. Those fortunate to join John on one of his expeditions will enjoy his natural ability to teach and guide. John has a strong commitment to climbing education and sharing that knowledge with beginners in the sport. His travels in climbing, from mountaineering to rock climbing, have brought him to New Zealand, Europe, Ecuador, Bolivia and much of the United States. He is currently on the path to becoming a fully certified ACMG guide.
Dave Hahn has become one of the most respected names in adventure in the worlds highest and coldest places. With 20 years experience, he is a consummate professional mountaineer, known for his quiet easygoing leadership style, which one of our climbers recently noted “makes him a perfect fit on the Berg Adventures Team.” His recent ascent of Mt Vinson with a BAI team was Dave’s 23rd ascent of the highest peak in Anatactica. He has made multiple ascents of both sides of Mt Everest, (three on the North Side, two on the South) and 15 ascents of Denali. His wry, literate Internet accounts and his writing about the world of expedition mountaineering show humility, respect for the power of the mountain world and Dave’s own subtle brand of humor. Dave is a crafty, resourceful expedition leader who knows how to have fun, be safe, and get teams to the top and home again with great stories to tell.
Born and raised in the Yukon Territory, Grant Meekins lived above the Arctic Circle for several years and spent most of his youth in the mountains and on the rivers of northern Canada. Involved in sports from an early age, he was Yukon's "Athlete of the Year" in 1979. Grant began climbing in 1980, and has been a climber ever since. After getting degrees from the University of Fairbanks-Alaska and Laval University in Quebec, Grant moved to Canmore, Alberta where he enjoys rock, ice and mixed climbing. In 1997, he lead a successful expedition to Mt. Logan, Canada's highest peak. He has numerous first ascents to his credit, and has climbed several of the worlds most difficult mixed climbs.
Growing up in Ontario, Brett started rock climbing at the age of 14, on the small escarpments surrounding the Ottawa area. This soon became the passion in his life and he realized that his goals would be better achieved in the bigger mountains of western Canada. Brett moved out to Canmore in 1997 and in 2001 after many years of climbing, mountaineering and skiing, he started the guiding process with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
Brett is now a fully certified UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide teaching and guiding while showing people the unbelievable mountains he loves and calls home. Brett works as a heli-ski guide in the winter and teaches rock climbing, mountaineering, and alpine climbing courses during the summer. He lives in Revelstoke, BC with his wife and daughter.
Karina is one of the most remarkable and accomplished young mountaineers in her region, Kabandino Balkaria, Russia, where Mount Elbrus is located. She grew up in the city of Nalchik, near the mountains and at a young age she found herself going to the hills to ski, climb and improve her skills as a guide. She first worked with Berg Adventures as an assistant guide in 2003.
Trained at university to be an accountant, Karina decided soon after she first worked with us to go the big city, Moscow, to pursue a career. We did not see her for a couple of years. She tells the story of one day sitting in a coffee shop in Moscow, a huge city of with a population of more than 13 million, which is as far away from the simple life of the Caucasus Mountains as one can imagine. A surprised and excited city dweller approached her table smiling, “you are Karina from the Caucasus”!
In that instant Karina remember who she really is; she went back to her apartment, packed her bags and the next day gave notice at the accounting firm. By the end of the week she was back in the mountains. Now while she is skiing, ice climbing and enjoying winter in the Elbrus region each year Karina is also busy communicating with the BAI Canada office preparing the visa details and logistics for the upcoming summer season. We are proud that “Karina from the Caucasus” is back where she belongs and that she is central to the successful and rewarding climbs that Berg Adventures clients experience on Elbrus each year.
Joaquin has become a featured leader on all Berg Adventures programs in Ecuador. His hometown is Quito and his love for the cultural and ecological history of his own country has endeared him to all the BAI clients who have known him.
Joaquin holds a degree in Economy from the University of Ecuador. He is a certified Mountain Guide and he has a degree in Hotel and Tourism as well. Mountain education has been an important focus of his career and he has developed programs for Ecuadoran school children that cover mountain ecology and safety. Joaquin is also an experienced leader and cultural guide for excursions into the Amazon; you will find him on all Berg Adventures excursions into the jungle. His passion for the beauty and variety of life zones and cultures in Ecuador has been informative and inspiring to us every time we travel, hike and climb with him.
Roberto Carlos Bahamondez Reyes
Roberto had early ambitions of becoming a civil engineer, but his love of the outdoors overcame him and he decided to pursue a career in guiding and outdoor education instead. With eleven years of guiding under his belt, Roberto is a knowledgeable and respected guide working out of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. As a certified guide, Roberto is extremely passionate about Patagonia and is very full of interesting facts about the human and natural history of the region. He is especially knowledgeable on the topic of birds and he is active in an organization called Aves de Chile (Birds of Chile).
In his spare time, Roberto loves to climb and trek. He has climbed many peaks and has completed a number of long trekking traverses throughout South America. In addition to all of the exploring he has done around his home country of Chile, his travels have brought him to Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
Dave Scott is a fully certified ACMG mountain guide and has been guiding professionally in Canada since 1991. Alpine climbing, alpine rock climbing and ski mountaineering are his main areas of interest at both work and play. He enjoys all facets of the guiding life, in particular being able to introduce visitors to the incredible beauty and climbing potential of Canada's mountains. Highlights of the last ten years include an ascent of the Cassin Ridge on Denali, a guided trip to the East ridge of Mount Logan and the first ascent of the North Face of Pinnacle Peak in the St. Elias Range. Dave lives in Revelstoke B.C. with his wife and two daughters.
Ang Temba Sherpa Director of Operations, Nepal
Ang Temba is our Director of Operations in Nepal and in charge of all Sherpa logistics pertaining to our expeditions and treks. He stood on the summit of Everest in 1991 as member of an all Sherpa team. Since that time he has been Sirdar, or chief Sherpa, of some of the best Expeditions to operate on Everest including the National Geographic 50th Anniversary climb and Berg Adventures Everest 2003.
He is known as an excellent liaison and communicator about Sherpa life. For years our trekkers and climbers have been welcomed into his home during their treks in the Everest region. Along with his wife Yangzing, Ang Temba is famous for Sherpa hospitality with a western twist. He is a man who is comfortable in two worlds, solidly rooted in his culture, yet comfortable in the United States, Japan or around the world during his many travels outside Nepal. He also works with media, including Outside Magazine, the BBC and National Geographic, which published one of his photographs on the last page of the May 2003 Everest issue.
Osvaldo Yupanqui Director of Operations, South America
Osvaldo Yupanqui has been guiding for Berg Adventures since 2003. You will find him leading our groups in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador or Bolivia. Osvaldo was born in La Paz, Bolivia at 4000 meters above sea level. He has the high altitude of the Bolivia Altiplano in his blood but he is a lover of all mountain terrain around the world. His spirit and enthusiasm for life in the mountains are contagious when you are on a trip with him.
In La Paz Osvaldo’s family is well known as handcrafters of carnival masks. These uniquely Bolivian works of art can be seen on the streets during festival times. An intriguing mix of colonial and native traditions they represent Ovaldo’s ties to his culture. We always love being with him when he shares his insights into ancient Andean traditions.
Perhaps the best way to describe Osvaldo was a recent quote we received by one of the climbers he guided on our last Bolivia expedition. “Osvaldo reminded me of what true leadership is all about. It’s getting people to out-perform themselves because deep inside you hold a conviction that they are capable of more than they realize”. A true professional, Osvaldo is a man who has found a way to see his passions realized through his career. His experience, confidence and good humor have contributed to rich experiences and summit success for many Berg Adventures climbers.
The Berg Adventures Tanzania Team is well known for their enthusiasm, compassion, skill and professionalism. From the moment you are met at Kilimanjaro International Airport, through your stay in Arusha, your climb on the mountain and your adventures on safari you will know that you are with friends. One of our recent Kili climbers commented when he came home: “the esprit de corps of your staff is truly inspirational”.
Our Support Staff
Leila Silveira Director of Programs
Formerly with the Brazilian Foreign Service, born in Rio de Janeiro, Leila has an exceptionally strong international background. She has lived in several European countries, Japan, Central Africa, and the United States. Leila now lives in Canmore, Alberta. Her role as BAI program coordinator involves trip planning and coordinating the many details that set our BAI trips apart.
Her background as a whitewater kayaker, climber and traveler in remote regions worldwide make her an excellent source of advice as you plan your next adventure. Leila has spent more than eight months paddling, trekking and climbing in Nepal, as well as traveling throughout South America, Tanzania, Russia, Alaska and, of course, in the Canadian Rockies. She’s been a part of successful BAI expeditions to Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Bolivia, Everest Base Camp, Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua. If you have any doubts about where you would like your next trip to be, talk to Leila about your expectations. She has the experience to recommend the perfect trip for you.
The first question Sara asked when considering where to go for college was, “Is it close to a good ski resort?” The short, icy hills of her Minnesota childhood were fun, but she moved west in search of bigger, more powdery terrain. Once she experienced winter in the mountains, she knew she would never leave. While Sara is keen to try just about any outdoor activity, she is most passionate about skiing, hiking, camping and triathlon.
Traveling the world and experiencing its wonderfully diverse cultures and landscapes has always been Sara’s primary interest. At the University of British Columbia, she studied Geography and Anthropology to learn more about the places and people she hopes to someday visit. Since first traveling outside the US when she was 15 years old, she has visited over 20 countries on five continents. Her most recent adventure was trekking to Everest Base Camp with Berg Adventures in spring 2011. She is passionate about promoting travel abroad and is eager to help you plan your next adventure.
Deirdre O’Handley grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, but was always determined to one day live in the mountains. Now that she lives in Canmore, Alberta, she has been taking advantage of her beautiful surroundings and climbing mountains every chance she gets. Deirdre also enjoys trail running and snowboarding and keeps herself busy exploring the Canadian Rockies.
Deirdre earned her degree in History at the University of Toronto and loved learning about the different people and cultures around the world. With a passion for adventure and a love of unique travel destinations, Deirdre is willing to help make your Berg Adventures trip one you will never forget!
Lina Sedykh is a licensed tour guide working and living in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has been guiding with Berg Adventures since 2003. Her passion for her work stems from a deep appreciation for the charm and magic of the city of St. Petersburg and everything that it has to offer its guests. She enjoys meeting interesting people from all over the world and to be the one to show them the most remarkable sights that the city has to offer. Lina is also a faculty member at one of the leading universities in St. Petersburg where she teaches Business English to the executive directors and top-level managers of many of Russia’s largest companies. Her charm, humor and patience have endeared her to all BAI groups who have spent time with her. We are always amazed at what an important part of our groups Russian experience Lina becomes in the short time that we are in her city.
Mariela Avila Zgaib
Mariela is an avid skier from Mendoza, Argentina. She uses her skiing expertise working as a professional ski instructor at various resorts in South America and Colorado. Luckily for us, that’s not all she does. Thanks to her family background in viticulture, Mariela is an expert on wines and vineyards in Argentina’s wine country, and she also organizes and operates transportation and tours throughout the region. From the minute one of our Berg members arrives in Mendoza, Mariela is there to support and organize; along with her sweet disposition and hard work ethic, she is an important part of our team by making our Argentine adventures smooth and enjoyable.
From his Seattle, Washington home Bob keeps busy as a writer, adventurer and wilderness walking enthusiast. He frequently shows up at the Berg Adventures Alberta Headquarters where he maintains one of his worldwide "remote office" locations. Bob has published a number of books including, Mountain Madness, about the life of Scott Fischer.
An instructor and backcountry crew leader with the Student Conservation Association for twenty-five years, he is author of Lightly on the Land, SCA’s trail building and maintenance manual. His long-distance backpacking trips include a solo hike of the Appalachian Trail. Bob has also engaged in the dangerous pursuit of teaching grammar and writing to college freshmen, and he occasionally appears on stage to startle his friends as a concert pianist. Bob has worked on international trips to Russia, Tanzania and Nepal and the Galapagoes. Lately he has been spending time in Siberia assisting the Great Baikal Trail Association (GBT) with the construction of hiking trails in national parks surrounding the lake.
Elizabeth Hamilton Accountant
Elizabeth left her native Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) in 1968. Before settling in Canada, she lived in the Republic Democratic of Congo (Zaire), where her travel bug and newly acquired taste for safari adventures brought her to Kivu National Park, Burundi and Rwanda.
A couple of years later Elizabeth moved to Quebec City. The shock of sub-sub-sub-zero freezing temperatures of a typical Canadian winter was soon replaced by enthusiasm for skiing. She has since chosen Canmore, Alberta to as home for her family.
Elizabeth teaches computers and accounting programs to adults at the local college. Her role at Berg Adventures is to make sure we do not overcharge our customers or overpay our government taxes.
Donna Moll Design Consultant
Donna has over 20 years of experience in the design field from academic to professional practice. Prior to starting her own consulting business in Connecticut and New York City, she spent six years teaching all levels of graphic design at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. Her passion and strong interest in typography and museum/exhibition graphics is evident in Senior-level positions held at the Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Television and Radio, and The New York Public Library. She also served as a Design Consultant with The Museum of Modern Art, as well as other non-profit organizations.
When not glued to her computer, Donna has an insatiable love of the outdoors and travel. She is frequently found pursing her goals for physical accomplishment and her passion for adventure on one of our climbs, where she always endears herself to her teammates as the woman with great spirit, an irrepressible smile and endless compassion for her fellow climbers. Her addition to the BAI team as Design Consultant is a perfect fit, bring together her two worlds.
Guilherme Moraes Weather Forecaster
Guilherme Moraes lives outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the mountain town of Nova Friburgo, where he is a public school teacher. He has become expert in generating critical weather forecasts for Berg Adventures climbs throughout South America and around the world. Guilherme’s informed and perceptive forecasts are always on time and accurate when they come in by satellite phone or on the Internet.
He has been known to be up late at night and very early in the mornings to gather and interpret the data that we are so eager to get when we are climbing. The weather news that he sends us is always delivered with healthy dose of humor and with empathy. He makes us feel that the BAI Brazil station is with us each step of the way.
Gillder Frontier - HD/Film Production Company
The Gillder Frontier is a film and HD/Video production company that has filmed everything from adventure videos, feature films and documentaries to commercials and web videos. They began shooting adventure videos in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina but soon moved on to the Rocky Mountains in Utah and then found themselves working in the Canadian Rockies on the Athabasca Glacier eventually filming the trek to the basecamp of Mt. Everest in Nepal with Berg Adventures. When you're going on the adventure of a lifetime, don't you want to make sure you have someone with the skills and training to professionally capture it for you to share with the world?
The Gillder Frontier is headed by Director/Producer Lovinder Gill, Producers Paul Mistor and Geoff Thompson and Cinematographers Kenneth Wilson and David Short. They have complete Hi-Definition video packages and audio and video post-production suites to create polished videos.