Meet GeoEx Trekker Andrea Eddy
I Am Constantly Looking for New Adventures
I work in the banking technology industry, and live in the Vail Valley of Colorado, where I work from home when I am not traveling for business. I have climbed all 54 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado, and am constantly looking for new trekking and hiking adventures where I can “unplug.” No one can find me in a tent. Because I have to plan my own travel for 30+ business trips per year (as well as hiking and snow shoeing treks for family and friends), the last thing I have time for is planning all the logistics for an international trek or climb when I really want to “vacate” my life.
The Right Trekking Company Can Make or Break a Trip
While I really enjoy wandering around a strange land by myself, it is truly a luxury to have a vacation planned for me. I have traveled to over 70 countries for both independent and group travel, and trekked in the usual suspects like the Himalaya, Milford Track, Patagonia, and a few of the 7 summits. I have traveled to places like the “Axis of Evil” countries (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) and all over the Middle East, including Syria, and Lebanon. Treks are very difficult to plan on your own or do independently.
Planning a Colorado Trek Is One Thing, But…
Planning a trek outside of the U.S is entirely different. There are numerous logistics such as the type of gear, meals, mode of animal transport, environmental footprint, and latrine options that I don’t want to even think about. From finding the best route and airfare, to researching hotels and determining safety with everything from taxis to drinking water, trips take a long time to plan. It makes me shudder to even think about planning an international trek.
I Want to Show Up & Know Everything Is Taken Care Of
I just want to show up with my backpack and hiking boots and know the rest is taken care of. From the “alarm clock” of coffee or tea being brought to my tent every morning to knowing that my tent will be set up by the time I get to camp each day (which means I don’t have to carry it, either)—these little pleasures that are such a luxury for me. On occasion I will decide to go on a more luxurious trek, and GeoEx has plenty of options that include an inn or hotel at the end of each day. My first such trip was Hiker’s Paradise in Bhutan, and I never knew trekking could be so extravagant!
I Am Somewhat of a Foodie & a Pescatarian
I am not one to carry snacks on a trek, so I am relying on the cook to please my palate. Pizza, popcorn, french fries, peanut butter, and crepes have all been a pleasant surprise when trekking with GeoEx. If you are a vegetarian, there are always options. In fact, those of us in the group that don’t eat meat usually have to fend off the meat eaters from the fish or stir-fried tofu!
Trip Leaders & Safety Are as Important as Logistics
In such remote locations when you are days away by camel to the nearest village, the company you are using needs to have an experienced trip leader. You will have local guides, but you also need an experienced mountaineer from the company with whom you are booking to handle situations you may encounter. GeoEx is fortunate to have had Vassi Koutsaftis leading treks for 30-plus years.
So, What’s Next for Me?
From Bhutan to Iran to the north side of K2, I have relied on GeoEx expertise for my trekking trips. So, what’s next for me? Trekking in Yemen will have to wait. However, from where I sit right now in the midday heat of Cartagena, trekking in Antarctica or up Mt. Vinson sounds good! How about it, GeoEx?
Meet GeoEx Hiker & Trekker Peter Van Kuran
I live in Palo Alto, California, having spent 40 years working for Silicon Valley tech companies. I currently spend time on a couple of nonprofit boards, do pro-bono consulting, and enjoy volunteer work in Yosemite National Park. I have been an avid climber, backpacker, and trekker for more than 60 years. Since my first trip to Tuolumne Meadows in 1958, where I climbed Lembert Dome for my inaugural ascent, I have done dozens of ascents in the Sierra Nevada, Tetons, and Cascade Mountains, plus a couple of European and Nepali summits. Recently I have enjoyed hiking with my grandkids in Yosemite and most recently in British Columbia and Alaska
Why I Started Working with an Adventure Travel Company
I started using an adventure company to organize and lead trips as it became increasingly difficult and time consuming to do it myself, especially in the developing world where my interests were taking me. My first trip to Nepal was to the Khumbu, where we climbed two trekking peaks (Island Peak and Pokhalde). It was a super introduction to the value add that a company can provide. All I had to worry about was personal fitness and equipment. The rest was taken care of.
GeoEx Offers Pioneering Trips, Manages Logistics & Adds Value
Since my first trip to Nepal, I have climbed Kilimanjaro, trekked to the Kangshung Face of Everest (with my daughter), trekked in Bhutan and Patagonia, and most recently walked into the north side K-2 base camp. Most of these trips have been with GeoEx. I probably could not have planned these trips on my own and certainly not with the efficiency and smoothness of execution that GeoEx offers, especially in the face of the disruptions and surprises that adventure travel can bring.
I am looking for great execution on reasonably challenging trips into the world’s mountainous regions. I have also looked to GeoEx to offer unique destinations or to pioneer routes. For example, GeoEx was one of the first to offer the Kangshung Face of Mt Everest. The trip to the K-2 base camp is not frequently offered by any company, because it is so remote and logistically challenging; but GeoEx pulled it off.
In addition to organizing the trip logistics, GeoEx leaders really add value. Sometimes, it is their local knowledge and language skills that provide cultural and historic insights. Others have brought their significant guiding experience that ensures a level of comfort when you are far from the trailhead. You know that should things go wrong, they’ve been there before and know how to handle the situation. Recently, as I have gotten older, I have done less physically challenging trips with Geoex; although experiencing a Kalahari Ferrari Safari with Thuto in Botswana in pursuit of a sighting is not to be forgotten.
My Trip to Bhutan
My trip to Bhutan is a good example of how GeoEx shines. Our guide provided excellent local insight into the cultural and historic sites we visited in the front country, and was also able to organize two visits to yak herder families while we were in the backcountry. One evening we danced and sang late into the evening high above the timberline. We also had an interesting discussion about the positive impact technology, especially cellular, was having on their lives. We even got a chance to try our hand at Bhutan’s national sport, archery, under the watchful eye of Chomolhari. It took a while, but I finally hit the target even though I had the advantage of the thinner air at 13,000 feet. It is these kinds of experiences that don’t make it into the brochure, but make for lasting memories and testify to the value of GeoEx.