Telluride Helitrax: Hey Bill, thanks for taking the time to catch up with us. What have you been up to this summer?
Bill Allen: It’s been a busy summer, I took off right after ski season and headed to Nepal for my third expedition to Mount Everest with Mountain Trip. The Everest climb is basically a 2 month commitment, so I was gone from the end of March until the end of May. We had a great trip, everyone submitted so it was a success. But, it’s a long time to be away from my family. I was then home for about two weeks in early June before heading to Denali with a good friend/client and his son. It was great to be on skis again as we traveled up to Camp 3 before switching over to crampons for the upper mountain. We had a great (quick) trip on Denali, summited and were back home in Colorado in about 16 days. I finally settled back into life at home in the San Juans by the end of June and was around Telluride for the 4th of July, for the first time ever.
TH: Sounds incredible. How did you train for Everest?
BA: I mostly just went ski touring, which is perfect because it’s what I love to do. This year I worked with Steve House and his Uphill Athlete program to develop a training plan for myself, which I have never had before. It provided me with a bit more structure to my ski tours. I had heart rate and time goals I had to hit, but otherwise training was just another excuse to get out in the mountains. In addition to a lot of long ski tours, I did some strength-specific training, like carrying an 80 lb pack up a hill. I was actually able to get a bunch of my long ski tour days done while guiding heli-assisted drops with Helitrax. So, I have to thank everyone – Helitrax clients – who signed up for the heli assisted touring this winter for helping keep me on track with my Everest training!
TH: What was it like to be back in Nepal after the earthquakes?
BA: Nepal is a country where people struggle to get by in the best of times, so it’s hard to see such a big setback after the earthquake. We had a team on Everest last year when the earthquake hit, and we were lucky not to have any injuries to our climbers or Sherpa team. It was an emotional return for many of them this year after two seasons on Everest where many lives were lost due to avalanche and earthquake. Most of the buildings that were damaged in the areas we travel around were pretty well rebuilt, but there were certainly reminders of the earthquake around.
We had a team of trekkers who joined us as far as Everest Base Camp, it was a fundraising effort for dZi Foundation to aid their efforts to help with earthquake recovery and longterm development projects. There are definitely people still struggling to put their lives back together in an already difficult place, so there is still a lot of need for organizations like dZi who will be there for the long term. We are going to try to raise money for dZi on our Everest Base Camp trek again next season, and will hopefully turn into an ongoing thing.
TH: What else is on tap for this summer?
BA: I am mostly looking forward to being home with Parker, my 4 year old son, and my wife Sonja. I love the San Juan Mountains and have a long list of runs, climbs, bike rides, etc. that I’d like to do around Telluride this summer. I’ll also be working in the Mountain Trip office in Telluride, and getting out as often as I can to guide some of our local trips in the San Juans.
TH: How long have you been guiding/owner of Mountain Trip?
BA: I started guiding for Mountain Trip in 1996 on Denali, and was given the opportunity to buy the guide service with another one of the guides in 2005.
TH: Can you tell us a little more about Mountain Trip?
BA: Mountain Trip was started by a hero of mine, Gary Bocarde, in 1973 in Alaska. Gary is a visionary climber with a first ascent of “The Shield” on El Cap (upon many other first ascents) and first winter ascents in the Alaska Range. When Gary was ready to retire, he wanted his company to go to his guides, so he made it possible for me to buy the company with another guide and friend, Todd. Mountain Trip was really born in the Alaska Range where we still have deep roots, but we’ve expanded in the last 12 years to guide internationally which includes all the 7 summits (highest peak on each continent). In the last few years, we have managed to get local permits to start guiding in the San Juans.
TH: What are your favorite destinations to guide in?
BA: I do love guiding in the San Juans, and particularly love ski guiding here, but Alaska will always be special to me and one of my favorite places. The scale of the mountains in Alaska is massive, it’s a place that can challenge and humble anyone. I’ve spent a good part of the last 20+ years in the mountains in Alaska and I’m always excited to go back.
TH: Thanks Bill! Have a great remainder of your summer!
BA: Thanks, see you in the heli soon.