What do I need to bring?
A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in a pre-departure packet. Every list has a description of each item, however feel free to call us if you have questions or need help locating any of the items on the list. It is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.
Will there be an equipment check?
There will be an equipment check before you head off to climb, however, it is often difficult to purchase/rent the necessary gear at your destination. Therefore, it’s extremely important you follow the equipment list guidelines and bring every item on the list. If you have any questions concerning any of the items mentioned in the equipment list, please contact us.
Can I rent my gear through Mountain Madness?
Currently we do not rent equipment for our international trips. Where available, we work with local rental agents and can procure some items in the country of destination. Call us for specific information regarding your trip.
How heavy will my pack be?
A typical daypack on a fully supported trek or climb contains snacks, electronic device, water and extra clothing and weighs between 15 – 25 lbs. On porter-supported mountaineering trips, additional cold weather clothes and miscellaneous climbing equipment may increase your load to 20 – 35 lbs. For unsupported mountaineering trips, climbers will be expected to carry between 40 – 65 lbs.
Is it possible to hire a porter for my personal gear?
We provide porters for group gear with a weight allocation for personal gear. Weight in excess of that, will need to be carried by you or an additional porter. On most trips we can arrange to hire a porter for your personal gear, but the cost is not included in your trip costs.
Is it possible for me to store extra gear and clothing that I will not need?
In most cases, yes. Usually you can store extra gear and clothing at your hotel. There may be a small charge, but typically it is free. Call us for details regarding your trip.
What kind of lodging can I expect?
Most of our international trips feature excellent three and four star hotels in larger cities and towns. Generally, these hotels offer amenities like room service, laundry, etc. We try to find accommodations close to local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets.
Haciendas and lodges are more boutique in nature often expressing the personality of the owner (s). You will find comfortable surroundings and local cuisine.
Huts and refugios are yet another form of accommodation utilized on many of our trips, including Ecuador, Elbrus, and the Alps. Most of the huts are bunk style and have a common eating area. Some of the more deluxe huts have heat, electricity and separate rooms.
On our treks and climbs we camp “Mountain Madness style.” We prepare delicious meals, provide the tents and on some trips, deliver hot tea to the door of your tent. On many of our fully supported treks and climbs, tents will generally be set up for you before you arrive at camp.
Can I request single accommodations?
All accommodations are based on double or triple occupancy. If you are traveling solo we will pair you with another traveler. Mountain Madness always tries to pair travelers in shared accommodations with the same gender. If the situation occurs where this is not possible we will contact you and offer the opportunity to book single accommodations. If you prefer single accommodations, we will do our best to arrange it, although there are some situations where it may not be possible. Costs for single accommodations vary from trip-to-trip.
Is there a best season to climb or trek?
Absolutely! Mountain Madness schedules all trips to coincide with optimum climbing/trekking conditions in all regions. Please call our office to determine the best dates for you.
How physically fit do I have to be to participate on a Mountain Madness Trip?
Most of our trips are physically demanding, and your ability to enjoy the adventure depends on your health and fitness. Your trip will be more rewarding if you prepare for it by conditioning properly well in advance. We believe that the best form of training is simulating the activity you are training for, and then increasing the level of exertion as the routine becomes easier.
For example, walking up hills and stair climbing are excellent ways to condition your lower body, heart and lungs for climbing. Begin slowly, without the weight of a pack, and eventually add weight as you increase your training pace. Then begin taking longer hikes several times a week with a weighted pack. Use water containers for uphill hikes, then empty the contents for the descent to reduce knee stress. Supplement these workouts with running, swimming, bicycling, or other forms of aerobic activity. Additionally, we highly recommend that you incorporate a weight training régime into your training program to build upper-body strength.
Begin your daily training several months prior to your trip. If you have questions, contact Mountain Madness to discuss how best to help you prepare for your trek, course, or climb.
Please see our training page for detailed information.
Are Mountain Madness trips rated in accordance with their level of difficulty?
Yes. The following outline indicates how we rate our trips and what the recommendations are for participation on a climb or trek.
Climbing Grades Defined:
Beginner: No previous mountaineering skills required
Advanced Beginner: Basic mountaineering skills recommended including self-arrest, cramponing, ice axe use, rope and glacier travel experience. May require some basic rock climbing skills.
Intermediate: Basic mountaineering skills recommended in addition to experience on technical terrain consisting of 40 – 50 degree snow/ice slopes and rock climbing up to 5.8 if applicable.
Advanced Intermediate:Intermediate mountaineering skills recommended and proven experience and ability to climb while wearing pack on technical terrain and high altitudes to 20,000 feet.
Advanced: Intermediate/advanced mountaineering skills recommended in addition to experience on technical terrain, including rock and ice climbing and ascents over 20,000 feet. These climbs are generally longer and technically more difficult than advanced intermediate.
Here’s how we rate our treks:
Easy: Flat terrain. Example would be a safari where walking is easy and for not more than an hour.
Moderate: Varied terrain with elevation gains up to 2,000 feet, 4 – 6 hours of hiking each day. May include a day or more of difficult trekking at higher altitudes and elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet.
Strenuous: Steep terrain, occasional elevation gains of more than 3,000 feet at higher altitudes, 6 – 8 hours of hiking each day. These generally take place at higher altitudes and may involve consecutive days of difficult trekking.
Does Mountain Madness offer custom trips?
Mountain Madness loves to customize personal trips — for you, your family, your friends, or organization. Our published trip prices are typically based on 5 – 10 individuals, so the number in your party may affect your price. Just give us a call and let us know what you’re interested in, and we’ll Make It Happen!
Is there a minimum age requirement?
It depends on the trip. We may be able to accept participants 10 years or older, if they are accompanied by a legal guardian. There are a number of factors that may limit the participation of climbers and trekkers under 18. Please call our office to discuss a good fit.
What if I want to arrive earlier or depart later than the trip dates?
Great idea! Mountain Madness is happy to help you arrange accommodations before and/or after your trip. Our area directors can recommend accommodations, restaurants and interesting places to see.
Can Mountain Madness help make my airline and hotel reservations?
No, Mountain Madness is not a travel agent, and does not book airfare or hotels. We are happy to help you with arrival and departure dates/times and highly recommend our company travel agent, Pirjo Dehart at CTT Destinations to help with any travel arrangements you need to make. We have worked with Pirjo for years, she knows our trips well and has booked countless airline miles for both our clients and guides. Please call Pirjo at (800)909‑6647 or email her at email@example.com.
Who will my guides be?
Mountain Madness is accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association which ensures a high level of guide qualifications. All of our guides are highly skilled professionals who have been selected based on their technical proficiency, proven safety records, careful judgment, patient and supportive teaching styles and great personalities. We employ both U.S. and International guides to lead our trips abroad. At a minimum, all of our guides hold current Wilderness First Responder certification or equivalent and are proficient in technical rescue and evacuation skills. All are either certified at the highest International standard or in the process of obtaining certification. Dedicated to the world of alpinism, many of our guides have logged first ascents and successful summits on major peaks from the Cascades to Everest. In addition to their broad scope of personal achievements out in the field, many Mountain Madness guides have educational backgrounds in natural history, cultural anthropology, and language studies that will enhance your overall experience.
Will I have safe drinking water?
Yes. We utilize the most efficient method to make potable water depending on the region and resources available.
How do your guides communicate if there is an emergency?
Our Mountain Madness guides carry the most appropriate communication devices for a particular area, whether that’s a cell phone, radio, satellite phone, etc.
Can we communicate with our families while on a trip?
Cell phone and internet service is available in all cities and most towns and increasingly in other areas including the mountains. Make sure to leave your itinerary with a family member, so they can track your progress.
Will there be any power source for charging batteries, etc. available outside the cities and towns?
Our guides sometimes take solar panels and sometimes extra battery packs for our expeditions. Their priority is to charge expedition emergency communication devices. They are not meant for personal use. There are small and efficient solar chargers readily available for wilderness use. Please contact us if you have further questions.
What about a toilet on a trek or climb?
Facilities vary from trip to trip. For instance, on Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail we bring a private toilet tent and toilet for exclusive use of our group. In other cases, we use available facilities in accordance with local standards. We strive to limit our impact in the mountains.
Should I tip my guides and staff?
Tipping is always a personal choice, but is greatly appreciated by your guides and staff. We will provide more details once you’ve booked your trip.
Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?
All of the meals served on Mountain Madness trips are a combination of the best local and regional fare. Your guide or your personal cooks are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions.
What if someone on my rope team gets sick? Will I have to descend/lose my summit opportunity?
For all of our climbs and courses, participants must remember that they are part of a team and that the well-being of everyone on the team is more important than any one individual reaching the summit. If the entire group is required to get a team member down, they will be called upon to assist the guides and staff. However, we have a high success rate, in part, because we often hire skilled local guides to assist on summit days, decreasing the client to guide ratio. This increases everyone’s chance for success. If it is extremely important that you have the highest chance of success we suggest you consider arranging a custom trip to ensure the best client to guide ratio.
I’m interested in climbing the Seven Summits with Mountain Madness. Is there a natural progression to accomplish this endeavor?
With very few people having reached the Seven Summits, it remains an elusive, though obtainable goal. From a technical standpoint each climb offers its own, unique challenges. Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus are great places to embark on this odyssey and represent the less technical climbs of the Seven Summits spectrum. Following Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, a mountaineer typically goes on to climb such greats as Vinson, Aconcagua, Carstensz and Denali. But for most Seven Summiters, Mount Everest is the ultimate achievement. For more information on how we can help you achieve your goal, please contact us or visit our Seven Summits page.
How do I register for a trip?
Sign up directly on our website. You will need to fill out the application form and submit a credit card deposit. The deposit amount varies depending on the trip and includes a $300 non-refundable registration fee.
When do I need to pay the final balance of my trip?
For most trips, the balance is due 120 days prior to departure. There are certain exceptions. Please refer to the payment policy for your specific trip. Your final balance may be paid by check, money order, ACH or credit card. With a credit card, there is a 3% convenience fee.
What happens if I need to cancel my trip?
If you need to cancel your trip, Mountain Madness must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date we receive written notice. You will be assessed a cancellation fee according to the following schedule for most trips:
- More than 150 days from trip departure: $300
- 150 to 121 days from trip departure: $700
- 120 days or less from trip departure: 100% of trip cost
Non-refundable fees may apply for certain trips in order to secure permits and other services; such as the Inca Trail and Himalayan peak permits, and Vinson airfare.
There are specific cancellation and payment schedules that apply for certain trips. Please refer to the payment policy for these specific trips.
What happens if Mountain Madness has to cancel my trip?
In the unlikely event that Mountain Madness must cancel a trip due to insufficient participants or other reasons beyond our control, you will receive a full refund. However, refunds will not be given for expenses incurred by the participant, such as airfare or personal hotel night. For this reason, we strongly suggest participants consider the purchase of trip cancellation insurance – see below.
Do I need a visa?
Most countries we visit require an entry visa. In many cases, visas are granted upon arrival at the airport. Some countries have more extensive requirements. In those situations, Mountain Madness will help you with the process when needed. Otherwise, you will be responsible for obtaining your visa
Do I need shots before I go?
We follow the World Health Organization, US State Department and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for current inoculation requirements. Please consult your personal physician. You are responsible for obtaining any required or recommended inoculations.
Do I need evacuation insurance?
Yes, it is very important. Many of our expeditions are in remote places with no roads and basic medical services. In the unlikely event you get sick, you want to get to definitive medical care ASAP.
Who do you recommend for insurance?
Coverage varies based on your nationality and the trip that you are taking with us. When you have booked on for a trip with us, we will send you comprehensive information on various insurance options which will serve as a good starting point for obtaining the best coverage available for yourself.
What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?
We recommend to all our expedition and trek members to buy trip cancellation insurance upon sign up for your expedition or at the very least, at the same time as you pay for your flights (and the balance payment) for the trip you are going on. It is very important to buy trip cancellation insurance (in addition to your evacuation and comprehensive travel insurance) as it is not unknown for people to have unforeseen circumstances that force them to cancel their trips for reasons such as family illness, injury to one’s self, business issues, etc.