Logistics for climbing Mount Everest from Nepal - My experiences with Asian Trekking and IMG

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Sherpas and team members dance around the altar during the puja ceremony at Everest base camp in 2007.  Our leader, Pertemba Sherpa is on the left wearing the blue cap.  Photo Paul Adler.Here is my review of the differences between the services provided by Seattle based  International Mountain Guides (IMG) and those provided by Nepal based Asian Trekking (AT) for climbing Mount Everest from the Nepal side. 

For the benefit of people looking at this page who didn’t follow my dispatches throughout the expeditions, I attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2006 however when I was 100m from the summit, my oxygen bottle ran out and I turned around.  I went back again in April 2007 and reached the summit on 23 May 2007.   On my first attempt I used IMG to organize all the required Everest logistics (they market this as their non guided program).  I was unhappy with some aspects of IMG's program (some details below) so in 2007 I decided to try a different company.  There are many alternatives available on the market, and after reviewing almost all of them, including the guided Everest programs, I settled on Asian Trekking's logistics package.  The following is a comparison between the two based on my experience. Although I haven't explicitly spelled out the criteria I used to evaluate the different providers, I am think that all the factors that were important to me have been mentioned here, so this may be of use to people evaluating different climbing companies, even if you are not considering Asian Trekking or International Mountain Guides.

Food
All food for the duration of the expedition was provided by both companies, with cooks stationed at base camp and camp 2.  I was reasonably happy with the food provided by IMG in 2006, however after going back a second time and comparing the two, I believe we received much better food through Asian Trekking.  Of particular note was the fresh fruit Asian Trekking supplied for most lunches and the amount of protein we received.  You can read more about my experiences with food on Mount Everest here.

Leadership
We had quite different leaders on both expeditions.  The leader from IMG was very organized and experienced however he tended to run the expedition in an almost militaristic manner.  I found that Asian Trekking’s leader suited me better as he was more approachable and consultative.  This might not be best for everyone, but here are my comments.

Sherpas and other local staff
The Sherpas are critical to the success of most expeditions on Everest.  Both Sherpas were good, however I found that the Sherpas from Asian Trekking were more eager to help.  A particular event made me feel very uncomfortable at the end of our expedition in 2006 and was a significant factor in me choosing a different company for 2007.  See my full discussion here.

Communications
IMG had better radios than Asian Trekking.  Battery charging facilities were both good.  You can read more here.

Gear and camps
Asian Trekking provided more tents and better quality than IMG did in 2006, although I did notice that IMG has new Coleman tents at some of the higher camps this year.  Camp placement was good on both counts.  Read the full review here.

Price and payment terms
Cost is similar between the two companies, with Asian Trekking just slightly cheaper.  I was much happier with the payment terms offered by Asian Trekking than IMG as we could pay a $2000 deposit to secure our place and then make our final payment right before departure to Nepal.  Here's what I paid and when.

Oxygen
The oxygen system used on Everest is a big difference between IMG and all other expeditions.  There is no one perfect system, although I do reckon that Poisk is better than the system used by IMG and is the reason why almost everyone on the mountain uses Poisk.  Oxygen was a major reason why I chose a different company in 2007.  Here is some of the research I have conducted on the topic.

Medical support
IMG paid for each of us to be able to access the base camp medical facility whenever we wanted.  This wasn’t provided by AT, but I have been told you can arrange this same level of cover with them directly for yourself for less than $100 for the duration of the expedition.  You can also pay per consultation - I believe it's $50 per visit but I didn’t need to visit the medical clinic this year.

Dates
With Asian Trekking we arrived at Everest base camp in 2007 on April 12, 8 days later than we did with IMG in 2006.  I think that arriving later was better - in fact we could have even arrived a few days later.

Trek in & out of Everest base camp
In 2007 we stayed in lodges and in 2006 we camped while trekking into Everest Base Camp.  Having done both, my preference is lodges.  With a room inside a lodge you are out of the elements, can stand upright, move around and spread things out in your room, and who wants to spend more time in a tent when you are about to spend two months living in one.  I had people accompany me on both my treks into base camp and there is a big difference between the prices charged for a trek and also the service offered.  See discussion for more details.

The other team members
In both years we had great team members, although I think that we felt more like a team in 2007 than in 2006.  Was this just me, luck of the draw or was it because of having 8 members instead of 16 last year?  See comments about Asian Trekking providing separate camps so that we had a smaller team size.

Anything else
I think it's important to add that in my opinion AT runs a cheaper operation on North side of Everest, so I wouldn’t think that what we experienced this year on the South would necessarily apply to the North side.  The price reflects this, and it's not all made up of the permit difference.  One of our team members this year had used AT on the North in 2006 and he said that the food in particular was much better on the South this year.  This stands to reason, because it would be much more difficult for a Nepalese company to supply a team in Tibet than one in Nepal.  Having never climbed on the North, I have no first-hand experience with this and so can't comment.

I did look at about 6 other Nepalese companies when deciding on an outfitter for 2007, but I found that while there were many that could organise an expedition for a small group, no one else had a package designed for individuals who wanted to join a team.  Some would even organise an expedition for one person, but I didn't want to be on my own for this amount of time.  I also felt that extras such as heater in the base camp dining tent would be left out in a one person expedition.

There were two things that really swayed me in my choice of Asian Trekking for my second expedition.  I received a number of very positive recommendations from climbers that I knew first hand.  Secondly, I looked at the number of people making repeat attempts with Asian Trekking and thought that this counted for a lot.  Some people were onto their third attempt and had used Asian Trekking each time.  If they weren't happy then they would have chosen someone else.  The same goes for me - if I was climbing Everest again from the Nepal side, I would definitely use Asian Trekking.

Messages

''essential reading''

an outstanding article paul.anybody intending to climb everest should read your reports !!! 'regards[ken.nz]

Thank Ken

Thanks Ken for all your messages and support. Yes, I hope this review is helpful.
Cheers, Paul.

Very interesting

Thanks for putting this together Paul. A considered personal view which gives yet more insight into the Everest experience. Nick

Thanks Paul

Paul,

Very interesting to read your thoughts and reflections on your two experiences on Everest. I appreciate your even-handedness and thorough exploration. I know I'll look back to your thoughts when choosing an outfitter for my next attempt. Thanks as well for putting your knowledge and insight out for many others to benefit from.

TA

Excellent Info

Well done Paul..
An excellent , informative and objetive comparison
Hope to see you soon
Cas

SOOoooo INTERESTING!!

Just wanted to put it "out there" that I am SOoo fascinated by every single ONE of the stories I have read from climbers mountaineering Everest! I have never hiked (other than at timberline here in Colorado, my neck of the woods), climbed any mountains, or endeavored to challenge my body physically, other than to carry all this extra weight I carry, but.. I just have to say, I am absolutely intrigued and in absolute AWE at the degree of psychological strength summiting requires. I'm in the psychology business (therapist) and do know about mental and personal challenges as seen from my position, watching people struggle, morph through, and evolve into better people because of their personal challenges and suffering they endure. I recognize the very same elements in every person's account of their attempt to summit the "big mountain." I'm impressed, I'm in awe of the inner strength displayed, and I'm equally amazed at the level of commitment to endurance demonstrated by all who try to accomplish the massive challenge. Here's to all of you who dream big mountains! Keep it up and know that there are millions of us down here below who support you in our thoughts and propel you towards the top every icy crampon step of the way! Yvette

Everest with IMG.. All is not what they seem

I was on the same expedition as Paul in 2006 with IMG. There's a few things that I would disagree on this arcticle. I felt really good chosing IMG even if i did not go with AT. I've seen AT's set up and organization. I felt that IMG were leaders on the mountain. Setting up ropes and making sure to be ready at the right time. I think this is very very important. You don't want to be stuck with 15 people waiting to go on the Hilary Step.

Oxygen: The system Top Out that IMG used was very high end. They used bigger tank and different so other team can't mistake/steal your oxygen. They were more efficient. Yes the poisk is more tested and used. We had a spare oxygen mask just in case of freeze or failure but it did not happen.

I'm not sure what Paul's problem was with oxygen or anything else but when you are high up, oxygen is your responsibility. Not the sherpas or IMG or AT. You need to make sure the tank is screwed on properly so that you don't have spills.

Also, IMG were very mad at Paul because of his broadcast of the death of a Euro climber.

What if I would of broadcast something like this before knowing names:

Austalian climber dies from fall on the Lohtse ice face.

I think you would of gave your friends a heart attack! By the way, that was illegal in Nepal to broadcast something like that on a unregistered satellite phone.

So that's my take on Paul's very objective article

Thanks

JF Carrey
www.jfcarrey.com

LOGISTIC SUPPORT TO CHOOSE

All I have read in this forum is very useful. Now, after reading Paul's considerations about AT and IMG:
is there any other company that you would recommend (when we are going to spend such an amount we had better compare at least 3 to my opinion)?
which company perfoms best on the tibetan side ?
thank you,
Valeria, Italy

Other Nepalese Outfitters

If I was going on the North side, I think I'd go with Russel Brice, but then I really don't know much about the North at all. I am pretty sure Alan Arnette is going with Project Himalaya on the North, so you could get some feedback from him about their services. The next biggest company in Nepal (after AT) is probably Thamserku Trekking: www.ThamserkuTrekking.com, so they would be worth a call too. But I have heard some not so positive things about the quality of their trips, so I didn't contact them at all.

I have heard good things about this company - www.shangrilatrek.com, but when I talked to them in 2006, I thought that they weren't really catering to individual climbers wanting to join an expedition. They were better suited to a group that wanted to put together their own expedition.

I have used this list before too: http://www.mounteverest.net/page/trekking/nepaltrekking.shtml

Cheers, Paul.

LOGISTIC SUPPORT EVEREST SOUTH & NORTH

Thank you very much Paul for your reply. Have you also heard about the agency Monte Rosa Treks & Expeditions in Kathmandu, www.monterosa-nepal.com ?
Thank you also for your reply to my question on O2 bottles !
I appreciate your availability to help others less experienced.
Ciao,
Valeria.

I haven't heard of Monte Rosa

Happy to help.

I haven't heard about these guys, but thats probably because there are so, so many small trekking agencies. Many of them exist primarily as the local agency for a Western trekking company. It's worth finding out what overseas companies they arrange treks for, because I think it needs to be factored into the equation.
My thinking with this was that if you use a company that arranges expeditions for a large foreign trekking agency, then you have the possible benefit that they might more more experienced at providing a higher standard service, but on the other hand if they happen to be running a trip at the same time as you, then all the best gear and Sherpas will be allocated to the most important client, which is unlikely to be you :) That is just my thinking, and may not always be the case. This was another reason why I didn't go with Sherpa Shangri La, because from memory they arrange a lot of treks/expeditions for Alpine Ascents, and I was concerned that they would have all their resources focused on them and not enough on me.

But I did receive some positive comments about them. My decision to use Asian Trekking was largely based on the the positive reports I received and that I spoke with several climbers who had been with them on repeat trips, which in my book was a very strong argument. Of particular note was a climber who had been with the company that I used first and then made two successive attempts with AT. I have now done two trips with AT (Everest April-May 07 & Island peak in November 07), and I was again very happy with the service & value and will continue to use them.

Paul.

Everest 2008 North

I am going with a small team led by Ryan Waters of Mountain Professionals. Logistics will be coordinated by Phil Crampton. We will be a team of 4 climbers plus Ryan.

I looked hard at all the north side operators for this climb since it is so important to me and my Cure Alzheimer's Fund objective. I wanted to maximize my safety and opportunity for success. I felt a small and focused team would accomplish this and not subject me to the "one size fits all" approach of a large team or a logistics only operator.

I have arranged for some special considerations in terms of oxygen and support to stack the deck in my favor but I still recognize that it will be very difficult to reach my goal.

All I can do is my best. I have trained hard the past 8 months with climbs on Denali, Shisha Pangma, Aconcagua and Orizaba and continue to push myself these last two months.

Props to Paul for all he does for climbers and this website.

Climb On!

Alan

Monterosa Trekking for Everest North Side

My name is Adrian Crane and I attempted Everest in 2005 and 2007 from the North with Monterosa Trekking. Although I did not summit I have only myself to blame. Monterosa provided a solid and comfortable base Camp and Advance Base camp. They do not offer guiding services or support above ABC but then that is a lot of the challenge of Everest; confident and experienced climbers can make their own decisions on the mountain. They can arrange sherpas and oxygen if you wish. Monterosa is considerably less expensive than most other methods of reaching Everest and they certainly provide a solid platform for an attempt. Monterosa is an independant Kathmandu based company that has been in business for , I think , 10 years and have considerable North side experience. If you have questions you can google me at 'teamkarma' and send me an email. Good luck.

Thanks for the info

Thanks Adrian for the post and info about Monterosa. It's always much better to be able to contact people who have actually used the services of the agency rather than just listening to people representing the company.
Cheers, Paul.

The Most Important Factors

Paul:
Your comments are interesting, I appreciate it when people make an effort to share information as you have done here. I personally feel you have failed to even mention several of the factors that I would find far more important than some of the things you did mention despite your statement "all the factors that were important to me have been mentioned here."

I am most concerned about my safety and a company's ability to organize and provide a rescue effort for me if I need it. You don't even mention this. From what I have seen in news media, IMG's track record there is impeccible and not only do they not lose any of their own clients, it looks to me like they very often end up saving clients on other teams, inlcuding AT. Meanwhile, AT's track record includes quite a few Everest fatalities. I am willing to bet you had way more of a safety net with IMG given the size and strength of their team of sherpas and guides. You don't seem to want to give IMG credit for the depth of experienced guides and climbers they had on the mountain backing you up for some reason.

I would be very concerned with the citizenship and leadership the company demonstrates on the mountain, like are they always lagging back like freeloaders and letting the other teams do all the route work or are they contributing their fair share? You talk about the benefits of arriving a lot later with AT, I smell a team that probably felt just fine about showing up too late to contribute anything to the route fixing above the Icefall but was probably quick to jump on the fixed lines put in by AAI and IMG and AC and the other large commercial outfits.

I would be concerned about how responsible the companies are for cleaning up and caring for the environment. It is simply more of a value to me than worrying about how tasty the meals are. Everest isn't a luxury cruise where it is all about the constant cuisine. Were the companies environmentally conscious or not? That matters to me.

You comment on the eagerness of the AT sherpas to help you and carry your gear and melt your snow for your water and cook for you at the camps, but you seem to have signed up for a fairly basic logistics-only type package. IMG offers the full service, take care of me all the way type of climb but from what I can see, it costs about twice as much as you were willing to pay. You don't even mention the relative pros and cons of your decision to not go for a higher level of service and support from either company, maybe what you really needed or wanted was someone waiting on you more and maybe that's just not what IMG wants their sherpas doing with their spare time.

I know a lot of people these days want to do it more themselves, not let a bunch of guides and sherpas do all the chores for them. Could the problem with IMG have been that you wanted and expected 'service' from sherpas who have been encourage to evolve their own self-perceptions away from the historical 'lackey' support role and more toward a professional image? I can see one big difference with IMG, they actually name the sherpas on their website and online expedition coverage instead of lumping them all and generically calling them 'sherpas' and they name them with their summit announcements and compared to the other operators, IMG seems to applaud them and acknowledge the sherpas more as equal team members, not paid servants. I like that, personally.

You talk about the militaristic leadership style with IMG but then I see this comment posted by someone that was on the IMG team with you in 2006 and it sounds to me like there was some conflict between you and IMG about you broadcasting news about climbing accidents. All I can say is that you seem to give little concern to that matter and maybe AT didn't much care one way or the other what you broadcasted or when, but there is a higher credo in mountaineering than being the first one to blast news off the mountain, and that credo includes making sure next of kin are informed and the facts are complete before people go hitting the Send button on their little comms gizmos. If IMG was trying to enforce that code and promote some level of responsible behaviour from its own team members, I would heartily support it and not see it as a negative.

You talk about being swayed by the number of climbers making a repeat effort with AT, here's what I would consider even more important: not having to make a repeat effort because I make the top on the first attempt. Looks to me like IMG's clients are pretty successful at getting their business done the first time around and then getting safely home. I looked at the IMG website's 2006 expedition coverage, there were a lot of successful climbers on that team, a factor I would weigh more heavily than tented trek vs. teahouse trek.

Another thing I'd be concerned about is what sort of licensing, professional accreditation and insurance coverage the company has. I can't find that AT has any of that stuff but for whatever reason none of that is even a factor you have discussed. It just doesn't look like there is much substance to the AT business structure when you scratch the surface a little. That makes me a bit less than enthusiastic about handing them $30,000 and entrusting them with my life.

Just some thoughts on priorities and what is important to different people.

Michael Johnson

My thoughts 1

Dear Michael,
Thanks for expressing your views on the subject. I have tried my best to address your comments - let me know if I have missed any. I have split my response into a couple of comments.

There are probably as many opinions as there are climbers and I too was very unsure about choosing Asian Trekking because of some of the factors you mention. However I was swayed by the large number of climbers that I independently contacted and who provided positive feedback. Many of these climbers had been on several expeditions with AT to various peaks and like me had used other companies. Two had also used IMG in the past.

We hadn’t used a guide or agency service before Everest in 2006. All our climbs had been either 100% done by ourselves or just utilizing base camp services. We signed up for a basic logistics package with IMG, and that is what we were expecting. But this is not what we got. For example we were not expecting to be timed between camps to justify our place on the expedition. These times were unrealistic and much faster than AAI or AC travelled, which placed undue pressure on all of us to go quickly, when in times this was counterproductive. I should add that we had the benefit of being able to train full time for 12 months without working in the lead up to our expedition. Yes it’s important to go quickly through the icefall, but at other times you can afford to go slowly and conserve energy. That’s part of what I was referring to about the style of the expedition being militaristic. There was more that I won’t go into, but it resulted in law suits being threatened and unhappy staff who frequently aired their grievances in public about the company. As someone who has run a reasonably large company, it did not feel like a good environment to me.
We hired personal climbing Sherpas to ensure that in the event that one of us couldn’t continue or needed to go at a different pace, then the other would not be climbing alone. It was not to have them cook for us or even to show us the way. My comments comparing the Sherpas are more a reflection on the differences in attitude.

Yes, There might be more public emphasis made by IMG of their Sherpas compared with other large climbing companies, however in practice I felt much happier with the way the Sherpas were involved in 2007. For instance, in 2006 at base camp we always ate in our own member dining tent and our tents were well away from the Sherpas, so we hardly ever saw them unless we went over to their area (I should add that there were some members who made a really good effort in this regard, much more than us). In 2007 it was much more integrated and it felt like a more cohesive team. I’d be very interested to hear about the role of Sherpas in your own climbing experience in Nepal.
Our AT base camp manager was a former board member of the Hillary Himalayan Trust and also the SPCC (the organisation that is charged with ensuring that the area is kept clean). Last year, AT removed all their human waste from the mountain, including at the camps above BC and they are doing the same this year. I believe that they are the only expedition to do this. This is not widely known as AT are a Nepalese company without the PR capability of others. I can’t stress the differences in PR capabilities enough.

My thoughts 2

In relation to turning up later and ‘free loading’. In 06 we arrived before almost all the other teams and certainly more than 12 days before Alpine Ascents and Adventure Consultants. In my view I found this unhelpful as we couldn’t do anything once we got to BC as the icefall route wasn’t fixed, yet alone the route to C2. The other large teams arrived about 2 weeks later and this was roughly the time that we arrived in 2007 (I believe we were still a couple of days ahead of AAI and AC). It was explained to me in 2006 that it’s much easier to get us in earlier before the other teams arrive as there is less demand for flights to Lukla, yaks & porters. I agree this is the case, but I felt this was disadvantageous to us as it meant spending longer in the cold dry air of Everest Base Camp. As far as our contribution to fixing ropes in 2007, like many other teams we provided Sherpas, rope and screws. AT coordinated the fixing of ropes to the summit of Lhotse. There is a lot of publicity made by some companies as to their relative level of involvement in fixing the ropes. In my opinion this is mainly for marketing purposes and doesn’t reflect reality on the mountain. From memory it was Mountain Madness and Jagged Globe that did the majority of the difficult fixing work up to the summit, two companies that tend not to get as many mentions by name as others.

I felt very confident in the safety of our climb in 07. We had a standby Sherpa on the South Col at all times when a team was making a summit attempt. This was not the case with IMG. I believe the incidents that you mention are on the North side of Everest, although I am not sure what you mean when you refer to IMG assisting in a rescue. I think that the North side operates on a very different program than the South. I am happy to provide more clarification if anyone is interested, although having not been there my views are formed only by talking with other climbers who have.

I too wanted to deal with a company of substance. I was impressed by the fact that AT is one of the 2 largest outfitters in Nepal (Thamserku is the other) and that the owner of AT is the Chairman of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. To me, I felt that this might mean that in the event that strings need to be pulled to get a helicopter for a rescue, that we would stand a better chance than others. I would agree that if you needed to litigate you would probably be better off with a US company, however you would be unlikely to be successful given the waivers that are signed. Insurance is always the climber’s own responsibility. I think it’s important to remember that we are in a foreign country and that membership of US or European mountaineering associations doesn’t count for much.

Many of the commercial companies don’t like their client’s blogging and there is no doubt it can cause problems. In relation to us, we did our best to comply with any requests made by IMG not to publish certain incidents and only did so when we were informed that other teams had already posted the information. When the climber died on the Lhotse face, we informed our home team and didn’t post anything until we were told that other teams had posted the information. I believe it was nearly 24 hours after the incident occurred that we posted anything. Upon our return to base camp, the base camp manager was very unhappy and later in the dining tent publically threatened to kick us off the expedition. We then contacted IMG directly in Seattle and explained the situation and were ‘allowed’ to stay.

My thoughts 3

But it was because of what we experienced on summit day that really clinched my decision to choose another company in 2007. Nearing the South Summit in 2006, I suddenly found the going get incredibly hard and after pushing on for about 10 minutes, I sat down as I was unable to go any further. My personal Sherpa continued on as I was too weak to even call out. I sat on my own for about half an hour before my Sherpa came back down, checked my bottle and told me it was empty. It should have lasted 10 hours, was empty after 4. That in itself is not a reason to choose another company; it’s the way it was handled that was.

My Sherpa and I took turns sharing his bottle whilst he spoke on the radio to the Sirdar (in Sherpa) and tried to work out what to do. I was very concerned as I doubted that my Sherpa & I were strong enough to descend passing the bottle between us. About ten minutes later, a guide who was climbing on his own came down from the summit and the Sherpa who was with him gave me his own bottle, saying he could go down without. I will be forever grateful to this Sherpa. The guide did not stay to help (although it may have been that he knew that the Sherpa would still be faster than him). I was very unsteady on my feet having been without O2 for about half an hour, but slowly I made my way back down towards C4. My stepmother was at EBC and she reported briefly on our web site "Unfortunately Paul has had a problem with his oxygen and has had to turn back to Camp 4. The problem is only with the oxygen, HE IS FINE. More news when I know it."

About an hour later and still with a way to go to reach the relative safety of C4, the base camp manager came on the radio asking if I wanted to make another attempt that night (this was the first I had heard from him). I was in no state to answer so I replied asking if I could make my decision once I had got back to C4. He pressed me for an answer saying that he needed to organize things if I wanted to make another attempt. So I said yes. That’s when he replied to say that if I wanted to make another attempt that I would have to get our website changed to say that the oxygen incident was purely due to operator error. What to do? I can’t say I was thinking very clearly, but I remember just agreeing and thinking that I could sort it all out later. My home team then added the following to the earlier dispatch "Update: Please Note: it does appear that the oxygen problem was not due to any gear malfunction, but rather, unfortunately, due to operator error. Nick Grainger for site admin team."
Later this condition was expanded to include getting a couple of news websites to also report that it was operator error. I won’t link to the post here, but if you search through the archives of Explorers Web around May 23, 2006 you can see how they posted an update from my home team to comply with this requirement (obviously they were not told by my home team why we were requesting this update, and I can only imagine that they thought it was a little strange). I was very unhappy about being asked to do this and still am. In hindsight I also wished that we had not done it as we have contributed to the misinformation.

My team didn't lay blame in the original dispatch and I still don't now. It's very possible that I made a mistake, however on my second attempt with a replacement regulator I did notice that I felt like I was getting more oxygen than the first time. Sherpas later told me that they have seen exactly the same occur on other expeditions with IMG bottles. I have since read in the book "Mt Everest: Confessions of an amateur peak bagger" by Kevin Flynn (who climbed with IMG year or 2 earlier) and on page 209 he describes an almost identical situation happening to one of the Sherpas and an IMG bottle. "Panuru had a leaky oxygen bottle. He had realised that his bottle was nearly empty. That left us short an oxygen bottle. It was deemed that Jason would loose his Sherpa. Panuru would go down."

I want to stress the point again that I don’t hold any grudges that something happened with my oxygen, even if it was an actual problem with the gear. We are asking a lot of equipment to operate flawlessly in that harsh environment. On top of this you have the strong potential for human error (picking up a bottle that is half empty). But it is inexcusable to try to cover it up for what I can only assume is for commercial gain. It is people’s lives that are at stake.

That’s why I would not consider going on another climb with IMG again.

PS.
When I arrived home I wanted to gain a better understanding of the different oxygen systems and in particular I wanted to understand why everyone else uses Poisk despite it’s known issues. I believe that it's because they are lighter. Two Poisk bottles weigh the same as one IMG bottle, yet the two Poisk bottles hold 40% more oxygen and gives you the benefit of redundancy. Had the same thing happened to me with Poisk, I would have had a spare bottle with me to use to get down safely.

PPS. In 06 from memory there were 13 full paying members with IMG and 9 reached the summit (69%), and in 07 there were 8 full paying members and 6 summitted (75%). A longer term view is more relevant and a friend calculated the success rates of each of the major companies from 2000–2006 based on who started the expedition and found that AAI had the best by a long margin, followed by AC. I guess that’s why they can charge what they do!