Base Camp Chat: Video Interview with Everest Guide Ryan Waters

Apart from virus-related remarks, guess what was the main conversation topic at ExWeb’s second Base Camp Chat?  Of course, it had to be Everest, or rather, the three contrasting Everests we have dealt with in the last 12 months: the Everest of spring crowds, the winter Everest of expectations and this year’s Everest of broken dreams and silent slopes.

When coach potatoes around the globe lambasted the “millionaire idiots” queuing — and even dying — on Everest, American guide Ryan Waters was actually there, going to the summit and back with his clients, without major drama. He had hoped to return this year too, when COVID-19 turned his climbing and business plans upside-down. In this ExWeb video conversation, Waters discusses with journalist Angela Benavides the evolution of high-altitude mountaineering, the impact of the pandemic in mountaineering and his thoughts for the future.

Ryan Waters has led nearly 20 expeditions to the Himalayan 8,000’ers, including several on K2 and on Everest, which he has summited from both sides. Previously, he spent years climbing and guiding in South America, becoming an expert on the Andean nevados, or volcanoes, and the Patagonian spires. In 2005, he founded Mountain Professionals with Dave Elmore. Based in Boulder, Colorado, it organize treks and climbs around the world, with a special emphasis on the Himalaya and the Seven Summits. In 2010, he teamed up with Cecilie Skog and skied 1,800km over 70 days from Berkner Island to the South Pole, then continued to the Ross Sea and set a new record by completing the first ski traverse of Antarctica without resupplies or kites. He is the first American to complete the True Adventurers’ Grand Slam, completing full unsupported expeditions to the North and South Poles and climbing the Seven Summits. Waters is also one of ExWeb’s ambassadors.