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Title image:  Meet a BAI climber

Meet A BAI Climber - Jackie Berger

By Tracy Jacobson

Jackie came by the Berg Adventures office in Canmore a few years ago from Calgary interested in joining our Everest Base camp trek and wished to learn more about our operation. The bottom line is that she was hooked right away! Since that time you can often see her great smile on our expedition dispatches. Jackie has been with BAI to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro. Here she talks about her plans to climb Mt Elbrus. Learn about her dreams and goals as you read her interview!

Jackie, you have climbed on a couple of Berg Adventures trips now. Which trips have you done and what first brought you to join the BAI family?

Jackie on the summit of Kala Patar

Jackie on the summit of Kala Patar

I was first introduced to BAI some 5-6 years ago. I had been watching documentaries on Everest whenever I could get the opportunity, not to mention reading books and magazines, in particular National Geographic’s 50th anniversary climb by the Great Sir Edmund Hillary. As it’s always been a secret dream of mine to go to Everest, I decided to seek out some adventure groups here in Canada on the web. BAI, of course, was the first on the list. I was so excited to meet with Leila and Wally, and to my amazement realized I was sipping coffee with the man who photographed that most beautiful four-page spread of Everest for National Geographic Magazine and his beautiful and most endearing wife Leila, the true heart and soul of the operation. I knew I was signing up for more than just an adventure trip, but also, I would realize later, lifelong frienddships.

Since then I have had the awesome privilege of doing the Everest Base Camp trek and Kala Patar, an amazing trek through the Khumbu Mountains of Nepal. This was an awe-inspiring adventure which has to be seen to be believed. And my most recent trip was to climb Kilimanjaro in Africa with Berg Adventures.

What have these adventures brought to Jackie’s life?

Hmmm... that’s an awesome question. I’ve always wanted my life to have some element of purpose. Not for a résume, nor for great conversation, but you know, for me. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but I wanted at the end of my road to be able to say to myself that my life had substance. That I didn’t just live to pay bills, go to work every day and raise children. I wanted to teach my children that “our world isn’t THE world” and that adventure starts as soon as you “wake up” to the possibility.

I have had the privilege of shaking the hand of a man who has never seen a television set or cared to adopt the indulgent nature of our culture, and yet he has more than I will ever have. I have been blessed to have eaten from the table of a family who by our standards has but a home the size of one bedroom, and yet their smiles tell me “we have everything we need.” I have had the great experience of meeting new friends who are so close to my heart, and are now like fathers, brothers and sisters.

Jackie with Sherpani friends

Having said that, I want to point out that BAI also makes it so. BAI gives you what we who have traveled with Berg refer to as “The Ultimate Epic Experience”. Traveling with the Berg team is like having a “back stage pass to the Rolling Stones”. You get the “underground tour” or "the full experience", so to speak. Mediocrity is not part of Wally and Leila’s vocabulary. In my opinion, true success always requires true vision, and Berg has hit the adventure nail on the head. There is no shortage of elements here for Wally, Leila and their entire team at Berg. Their collaboration of wonderful concepts and a set of standards that are second to none make Berg Adventures a “stand out” operation in a niche in which few others are equipped to compete. BAI’s broad fields of experience, passion, and drive make you realize in a very short time that you’ve come to the right place.


Jackie with her dear friend Doc Martin

What is your next trip and why did you decide on this particular climbing adventure?

My next trip will be the Mt. Elbrus, Russia 2009 Climbing Expedition. I’m extremely excited about this one mainly because I’ve heard so much about it from Leila and Wally and a few others who have done it. It seems the most obvious next trip for me. If I keep going, I’ll eventually have done all the Berg adventures! But for now I'm just "a regular!!"

How will you prepare for Elbrus? What kind of training will you do?

Cardio-fitness is definitely important when I'm preparing for the climb. I plan on being a bit more stringent with my training this time around, adding a few different elements of training to my list. Besides running, I’ll be incorporating some plyometrics and core synergistics to my routine. That along with weight training and yoga will help balance things out with less chance of injury. And of course hiking and trekking right here in the Canadian Rockies is a given.

Jackie and Carol at the Berg Adventures office in Canmore

Jackie and Carol at the Berg Adventures

office in Canmore

What are you most looking forward to on the Elbrus trip?

Gosh that’s a tough question really… I guess everything the experience has to offer. Especially what Berg has to offer. It’s Christmas around every corner with these guys. EVERY detail is attended to, I’m not kidding!!

I am looking forward to going with a friend from home this time. Sharing your experience just brings it to a whole new level, I think. It’s hard sometimes when you come back from these trips and your friends say “so how was it?” I just never know what to say, really or where to start! The whole experience can’t be shared in sentences, I’m afraid, it has to be experienced to be understood. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just how it is. It’s easy with my husband and children because they’ve walked it with me and are eager to hear every detail... So this time I’ve asked my good friend Carol to come along and experience Russia with me. She’s a wonderful human being, and I know this trip will mean a lot to her.

I’m hoping some of my other BAI friends are geared up to want to go also; it’ll make for a most epic Russian experience.