Quick update about a minor change in my departure date for Denali that has some exciting implications. It’s just one day later than I originally planned (May 18th rather than May 17th), but I made the change to take advantage of the fact that explorer and guiding legend Vern Tejas will now be leading the May 18th departure! I wanted to take the opportunity to climb with someone so experienced (not just on Denali but on some of the biggest mountains around the world, as well as the polar regions), plus this departure is for six climbers rather than the original team of nine which is an advantage in my mind.
Here’s Vern’s bio from the Alpine Ascents website:
Vern is known for Denali’s first solo winter ascent, the first solo of Mt. Vinson (Antarctica’s highest), first winter ascent of Mt. Logan (Canada’s highest) and as lead guide for Col. Norman Vaughan’s first ascent of Mt. Vaughan in remote Antarctica. In 2000, Vern was named one of Alaska’s top 50 Athletes of the Century by Sports Illustrated and in 2012 was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to his fame in the extreme environments of Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica, Vernon’s success in guiding people to the summit is simply remarkable. Along with guiding numerous high altitude expeditions, Vern is a ten time summiteer of Everest and an avid adventure racer finishing 10th in 1999 and 13th in 2001 in the Eco-Challenge Race. Vern’s guided ascents are an extremely unique blend of his dynamic spirit, climbing expertise and guiding savvy, known throughout the guiding community.
Recently Vern had outstanding success Mt. Vinson, Last Degree-South Pole, Denali, Elbrus (Europe’s highest) and has guided all of our Everest expeditions this century. Notable among his accomplishments on the Seven Summits, Vern climbed and guided all 7 in 134 days (the current speed record), he has climbed all 7 at least 10 times. He also completed all 7 twice within one year. Vern is also the only person in the world to have completed “The Seventy Summits,” and first to guide Seven Summits and North and South Poles. With a guitar in hand and a smile on his face, Vernon treats everyone to the remarkable experience of life.
First person to climb Seven Summits 10 times
Mt Everest (10 guided summit ascents)
Denali (53 guided, 1st solo winter ascent, 1st paraglider descent, 14:50 speed ascent)
Elbrus (32 guided & speed 3:20 ascent from hut)
Aconcagua (25 guided & 8:02 speed ascent)
Carstensz Pyramid (3 Guided, via Jungle route)
Vinson (30 guided & personal,1st solo ascent, 10:20 speed ascent, 1st paraglide descent)
Kilimanjaro (14 guided & 10:45 speed ascent)
Greenland (world’s northernmost mountain)
Mt. Hunter (first winter ascent), Alaska
Mt. Logan (first winter ascent), Canada
Mt. Blanc (3 guided & personal), Rainier (2 guided), Cho-oyu (1 guided)
Chimborazo, Matterhorn, Kinabalu, Cotopaxi
1st Traverse of Wrangell-St. Elias Range
Ski Mt. Guide Shackleton Traverse
First Wheeled Crossing of Antarctica
Ski Guide Last Degree to South Pole
Ski Guide Last Degree to North Pole
Scout Overland Traverse to South Pole
Kayak Guide Greece, Santorini and Crete
Awards & Recognition
Alaska Sports Hall of Fame
Life member American Alpine Club
Alaskan of the Year Governor’s Award
Sports Illustrated Top 50 Athletes Alaska
Eco-Challenge finisher 10th & 13th place
NPS Denali Pro Pin for Rescue
“Cover Boy” Alaska Magazine
15 year member USHPA (Paragliding)
Producer “Strummit from Summit” CD
Host for Food Network’s “Tasting Alaska”
Talent ESPN TV special “Surviving Denali”
Wilderness First Responder (7 times)
20 year member AK Mountain Rescue
Looks like I’ll be in good hands!