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May-June 2010

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On the Job: Russell Brice, Everest Expedition Leader

How did you come to a career in guiding Everest trips?

I first went to Nepal to help Ed Hillary build the Phaphlu Hospital in 1974. I then went back to Nepal with my first commercial trekking/climbing trip in 1979 and have been to Nepal at least once a year ever since. I was never really interested in Everest, but after having climbed Ama Dablam in Nepal, my friend Paddy Freaney said that we could get permission to climb on Everest in 1981, so this was my first trip there.

Actually I am more interested in the logistics to make an expedition safe and successful for others. From my personal climbing, I found that I was quite strong at altitude. At about the same time, I saw there was a demand for guides who could put together and operate expeditions for people who did not have the time, effort, or experience to make their own expeditions.

In 1994, I started Himalayan Experience with eight members, and we were 17 percent successful. Last year we had 32 members, and we were 86 percent successful.

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.

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