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Title image:  Meet a BAI climber

Meet A BAI Climber - Todd Miller

By Leila Silveira

Todd Miller, of Laguna Beach, California, shares his adventures with Berg Adventures International. In April of 2008, Todd and a group of his closest friends joined BAI for one of the greatest mountain walks in the world: the trek to Everest Base Camp.

Todd dedicated his expedition to his father who had undergone two brain surgeries and survived like a champion not long before the trek began. Todd made a donation to Khunde Hospital the day his group visited this famous mountain clinic that has served the Sherpa people for more than four decades. The hospital was originally funded by the Himalayan Trust in 1966. It was a project that was very dear to Sir Edmund Hillary, whose death earlier this year has profoundly affected the Sherpa community.

Todd and Joselyn Miller

Everest Base Camp team

You’ve been to Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. How do these trips compare?

Both Kilimanjaro and Kala Patar/EBC were extremely rewarding, beautiful, challenging, and memorable. The biggest differences in the two trips from my perspective were:

  • Kili was 100% in tents and EBC was 100% in lodges. Both methods were appropriate given the very different terrains, mountain wilderness vs. villages.
  • 8 days vs. 16 days on the excursions. Given the longer time in the Himalaya, we were able to meet and get to know more of the local population. The Sherpa people were very friendly and we all enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with them.
  • On Kili we had almost no interaction with other climbers as we headed up the mountain. On the EBC trek, we interacted with many other trekkers and climbers.
  • We found that although the highest altitude we reached on each trip were comparable (19,340 feet vs. 18,200 feet), the additional days above 16,000 feet on the EBC trip became quite challenging. Our head guide was Ang Temba Sherpa whose personality, sense of humor, knowledge, relationships with the lodge owners, and spirit for life added so much to our overall experience.
  • The pace per day was well planned, the food was delicious, and the vistas were beyond written description.

Could you share a favorite moment from your Everest Base Camp trek?

We had many wonderful moments on the trip. If I had to narrow it down to one, I would say the day we climbed Kala Patar.

We were very focused on getting to the summit before the clouds covered up Everest, which according to the locals at Gorak Shep, was generally happening around 2:00pm that week.

On the Summit of Kala Patar

On the Summit of Kala Patar

We decided to wake up one hour earlier than normal to get on the trail first. The plan called for lunch at Gorak Shep before climbing Kala Patter. Rather than taking the usual hour for lunch, we decided to just have a quick bowl of noodles and began the assent. The two strategies gave us an additional 1.5 hours.

As we got closer and closer to the summit, it became apparent that the clouds were beginning to move rapidly toward the summit of Everest. It became a race, man vs. nature. We were moving as fast as we could given the fact that we were in an environment with approximately 50% of the oxygen found at sea level.

Out of the four of us in our climbing group, I was the most affected by the altitude, the weakest link so to speak. We reached the summit of Kala Patar and took an awesome photo of the four of us holding up prayer flags that outlined the summit of Everest in the background, literally 5 minutes before Everest became fully obscured.

We discussed for days what we wanted to do in the summit photo and that photo now adorns a wall in each of our offices back home in USA. Our itinerary included a back up day to climb Kala Patar a couple of days later. As it turned out, that day had extremely poor weather with limited visibility. Those 5 minutes made the difference between an ultimate Everest photo and no photo at all.

Guy Kornblum, Joselyn Miller, Todd Miller, and Thom Niederkofler

Guy Kornblum, Joselyn Miller, Todd Miller, and Thom Niederkofler

How do you prepare physically and mentally for BAI climbs and treks?

Physical preparation was easier for me than the mental preparation. We live 5 minutes from an extensive network of nature trails, including some very steep hills. We spent many sessions with weighted packs and our expedition boots in the year leading up to the climbs. Living at sea level in California, it is difficult to prepare mentally for the effects of altitude.

What would you say to other people interested in doing a trip with Berg Adventures?

I would recommend Berg Adventures strongly. When one commits the time and money for a lifetime type adventure trip like Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp, one should choose their company very carefully. The attention to details on Berg Adventures trips was so impressive.

As an example, we were consistently the envy of other climbing groups as they looked incredulously at our wonderfully diverse, plentiful (in some cases we had four course meals) and delicious food. We also noticed that we consistently had the best rooms at the lodges. The Berg operation is extremely well known and very highly respected throughout the Khumbu.

Todd Miller and friends at a lodge

What’s next for Todd Miller?

I depart for Atlanta, Georgia later this month to compete in the USA Volleyball National Championships for four days. Last year we won the silver medal, losing a close match to Canada in the championship final.

Todd Miller

Todd Miller

volleyball team