What went wrong and how to beat the lawsuit when a guide sues to recover fees, he paid to climb mountain Everest after the trip was cancelled? Several things.

The client was not properly educated pre-trip, and the paperwork did not cover the right issues and/or say the right things.

All over the news, this past ten days is a story about a lawsuit by a Mt. Everest commercial client who is suing his guide service for a refund when the trip was canceled. After arriving in base camp, the trip was canceled because the Khumbu Icefall had a 15 story serac over hanging the route. The outfitter and the other clients decided to bail because of the risk.

I’m even quoted in one article in Outside Magazine.

A Tech CEO Suing His Guide Could Change Everest Travel

CEO Sues Climbing Guide – Could Set a Terrible Precedent for the Travel Industry

It is not the first time that I’ve heard or been involved in these types’ lawsuits. I knew of one from 20+ years ago where the threatened lawsuit was over a refund because the client did not summit Mt. Everest. I never heard what the outcome was.

One of my clients was threatened with a similar lawsuit. The client wanted his money back because he did not summit. I responded to the client’s demand letter listing every Everest summiteers I knew who would testify about the chances of submitting. I never heard anything else.

These refund attempts happen on mountains all over the world.

Usually these start with a guide service needing clients to stay alive or making a profit or not investigating the client thoroughly. When a climbing guide is broke, they have a tendency to say anything to get money in the door or take anyone. Worse are the ones that can right a check without hesitation or who come with a “climbing resume” but only with guide services.

Climbing with a guide is awesome, but the guide makes all the decisions, no matter what the agreement says and how the issue is phrased and the client never engages his brain or understands how decisions are made when climbing a mountain.

Everyone once in a while it is the client who is trying to save face with his friends and neighbors because he did not summit. Getting his money back proves it was not his fault, that he did not summit.

The next step in the process is education. Clients need to learn two things from the start.

  • Their chances of summiting are slim or low based on the mountain.
  • The money they pay to summit is spent way before the client ever sets foot in the country where he is climbing.

No matter the mountain your chances of summiting are based on a lot of factors.

  • The mountain
  • The guide service
    • What the guide service does to get you off the mountain before you can summit

The mountain is obvious, how many days in what conditions and can you survive.

At the same time, there are unscrupulous guide services.

Guide services have been playing games with clients for decades. One game that used to be played on Denali was running the client up the mountain before the client could acclimatize and getting the client sick. This was obvious when you looked at the schedule. There was never enough time between the next load of clients landing on the glacier to acclimatize and summit before the guide had another group to lead.

A different game is still being played on Kilimanjaro. No one tells clients that the hike through the jungle to the base camp is going to leave them and their gear soaking wet. I’ve heard of trips were every single client spent the first two nights shivering in wet sleeping bags before giving up and heading home. No one says to use a waterproof stuff sack or a garbage bag to protect your gear, so thousands each year get to the base of the mountain and turn around.

I’ve not heard of Everest guide services playing any of these games. I do know that your chances of summiting and living are higher based on the amount of money you pay. The past ten years, most of the fatalities have come from guide services that are locally run and very inexpensive compared to everyone else.

I also have only heard great things from the defendant in this case, Garret Madison.

The money paid is gone before you arrive.

Think about the food you will be eating on Mt. Everest. It is purchased in the US, packed for transportation to Katmandu, repacked for shipping to basecamp and repacked for carrying up the mountain. The cost of shipping and packing far outweighs the cost of the food. All of this is done before a US client leaves the US.

Airline tickets, hotel rooms and transportation inside Nepal are paid for in advance. Local guides are hired and paid for, or they find someone different to work for. Competition on Mt. Everest is stiff, so there are plenty of job opportunities for all aspects of getting to basecamp and who you will be climbing with.

Gear is always brought back to the US, cleaned, checked, replaced and then shipped back to Nepal, or used on other mountains in between seasons.

Most of the money you pay to climb a mountain is spent before you leave the US. There are no refunds for food shipped to basecamp, there are no refunds if you can’t summit. I would guess if you wanted some of your money back you can take thirty days of dehydrated food back home with you……. Most is given to the locals and the Sherpa who live on it.

The best way to stop any lawsuit is education and paperwork.

The agreement between the guide and the client must have the following.

  1. The guide is in command, makes mistakes but is in control. Decisions made by the guide are final yet you are in control of your life. You can ignore them at your own risk.
  2. You can’t sue and if you do, you will owe me money for breach of the covenants that go with this contract.
  3. If you do sue, you have to sue me in my little home town a long way from where you live.
  4. You must purchase travel insurance to protect your investment because I’m not going to.

The guide from the articles might have screwed up. To get the client off their back, he might have said something about a refund. The guide also did not do a good job of explaining with the other clients who were leaving what was going on and why. The plaintiff client was left out of the conversation.

However, climbing Everest is not a guaranty, and no guide will ever bet on who will summit and who will not because the odds are stacked and change constantly.

Worse, it is obvious that this plaintiff thinks his luck is pretty good or the amount of money he paid is too much to lose, e way he puts little value on his life.

Guide says to go home, too dangerous! my response is get out of my way!

Do Something

If you want to climb big mountains and intend to hire a guide to do so.

  1. Get in shape
  2. Learn how to climb and climb well. If you can’t run up your local mountains without fear or concern, don’t leave them.
  3. Go climb big mountains with and without guides. Learn how to make decisions and why on when to climb, where to camp, what to do and when to go home.
  4. Expect to spend a lot of money, go cheap you might never go home.
  5. Communicate. Make sure all the promises your guide makes are in writing.
  6. Cowboy up if you can’t get to the top, you probably ignored steps 1-4.
  7. Your money is gone and will not be coming back.

If you are a guide service.

  1. Have enough guts to withstand angry clients because you can’t keep them all happy.
  2. Get good contracts and releases. Get agreements written by an attorney who knows what a mountain is, what making decisions means and has made those decisions and most importantly knows what goes into the agreement and why!
  3. Understand that marketing makes promises that risk management has to pay for is true. You tell a client, he or she will summit, you better have a way to get their butt to the top, or you will be in court.
  4. Make sure your insurance covers advertising, and you have a comprehensive policy to cover those lawsuits that arise more than the negligence lawsuits do.
  5. Tell everyone you cannot guaranty they can get out of basecamp, even get to basecamp, let alone summit.
  6. Get good contracts and releases!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Wilderness Medical Society Trailblazer: If you work in Outdoor Recreation you should be a Member!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the WMS! We would like to thank everyone for joining us in our adventures and at our conferences this year. We are ever grateful for our membership and all those that support this Society. We look forward to 2018 as we are excited to bring our Winter and Summer conferences to two cities for the first time: Lake Tahoe, Nevada and Midway, Utah! Thank you to everyone for helping to make the WMS community what it is and for truly combining your profession with your passion!
So you’ve been bitten by a leech. What’s the worst that could happen?
leech.jpeg S.gif

“Several years ago, emergency physician Jeremy Joslin found himself overseeing an ultramarathon in the backcountry of Cambodia. Once they’d finished the event, many of the athletes wanted to cool off and noticed an inviting stream nearby.

‘After a few minutes, the screams started,’ says Joslin, who is based at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. It was not long before people began hurrying back to camp-along with the multiple leeches that had become attached to their bodies. The next few days were filled with bandage changes and mild bleeding.

Most leech encounters play out similarly. Finding one of these bloodthirsty worms on your body can be a disturbing experience, but it’s usually not a medical emergency.

Usually. Every once in awhile, leeches can cause some serious and gruesome complications. Here’s what can happen when one of these little suckers bites you, and what you can do about it…”

For the first time ever, the WMS is heading to Lake Tahoe!

Wilderness Medicine Conference

February 23 – 28, 2018

Stateline, Nevada

Join us for this exciting WMS Winter Conference at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe on the South Shore in 2018!

Morning plenary sessions will cover all the essential winter wilderness topics, like avalanche rescue, hypothermia, frostbite and recent advances in altitude illness, and much more. In the afternoons you can choose from indoor and outdoor small group sessions and optional hands-on workshops. Or, you may choose to take some time off to ski, snowboard or explore the exciting Lake Tahoe region. This flexible schedule allows you to have plenty of time for education, recreation and relaxation!

Additional Liability Insurance Coverage Now Available to Members

As of November, members can now apply for additional coverage up to $200,000 (above and beyond the $50,000 for WMS Members)! The rate for this coverage is $800 annually (or $67/month). The coverage period extends from November 1 – October 31, so Members acquiring coverage mid-year will pay a prorated fee. Your WMS membership will be verified each November 1 for renewal eligibiltiy.

Note: Once a Members application is complete, an invoice and BILL will be sent directly to the WMS Member. Payment can be made by check or credit card, but there is a $25 fee for credit cards. Once the payment is processed, the Member will be sent a receipt and a Certificate of Insurance with them named.

Click here for more information and to apply!

WMS Seeking Committee Chair for Operational Medicine Committee

We are currently seeking to fill an open chair position for the Operational Medicine Committee. The mission of the committee is to acquire and function as a conduit for the latest operational medical research and field knowledge from the military. The committee is comprised of dedicated military field personnel interested in sharing techniques learned on the field. The Committee is in need of a person who will take the lead in developing lectures with the assistance of committee members to present at future WMS conferences.

If interested, please contact WMS COO Robyn Bonini.

Accepting Applications for 2018 Research Grants

The Wilderness Medical Society is pleased to announce the CALL FOR RESEARCH ABSTRACTS for the WMS Annual Meeting & Summer Conference, August 3-8, 2018 in Midway, Utah.

* Notifications of accepted abstracts will be sent by May 4, 2018.

* Accepted abstracts will be presented as posters at the meeting, with a selection chosen for oral presentations.

* One oral presentation will be selected for the 2018 WMS Outstanding Research Presentation Award ($500 award).

* All accepted abstracts will be considered for publication in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

* Abstract presenters will receive free registration for the day of presentation.

For questions or more information, please contact Alicia Byrne.

Application and more information can be found here.

New Features on Our Website

We are excited to announce a couple new features on our website! As most of you know, the WMS maintains a variety of committees designed to oversee various aspects of the society. Now you have the opportunity to participate in these committees! Each committee now has a blog open to WMS members so you can communicate your thoughts and ideas with us. Check it out at the Committees page of our website!

We are also proud to present online forums in a variety of topics for members to submit their input. These include forums for research questions and information, sharing relevant news stories, articles in our online magazine, Wilderness Medicine Magazine, and many more! You can check it out in the Members Area of our website.

Want to engage with others interested in the WMS? Check out the “Discussions” tab on the home page of WMS.ORG to interact with other visitors to the site!

Everest.jpg canyon-storm2.jpg mars2a.jpg
Everest Experience

March 25 – April 14, 2018

Due to on-going demand for “adventure, hands-on” wilderness medicine training and experience, the WMS has put together this world-class program. This course offers the opportunity for continuing medical education while on an Everest base camp (EBC) trek. WMS CME credit is available from Kathmandu to Everest base camp, and we are planning on two nights at EBC (not normally offered for Everest treks) in cooperation with Everest ER.

Register >

Canyon Country Adventure

May 3 – 11, 2018

Discover hidden arches and signs of the ancient Anasazi, explore slot canyons, and climb desert towers on this classic introduction to Southern Utah’s amazing canyon country. While learning important Wilderness Medicine topics, learn basic canyoneering skills. Revel in and truly experience the spectacular beauty of this iconic landscape.

Register >

Mars Desert Research Station

May 12 – 19, 2018
May 19 – 26, 2018

Nothing speaks to the essence of “wilderness” more than another planet. Mars represents the most remote and austere environment that humans have ever contemplated exploring. To simulate the demands of living and working on Mars, The Mars Society has established an analogue Mars base, called the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), in the Utah desert. In partnership with the Mars Society, the WMS will use MDRS as a base of operations for exploring “Mars.”

Register >

New in Wilderness Medicine Magazine
Bolt.jpg DeerTick.jpg DesertCurtains.jpg
Case Review: Finnish Lightning Storm

In July of 2011, lightning from a storm in Hanko, Finland left eight injured – three critically…

Read More >

Lyme Disease: Part Two

Part Two: Tick Removal and population control…

Read More >

Desert: Let’s Go Out to the Movies

Resident desert expert Edward “Mel” Otten brings us his top 10 desert movies…

Read More >

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Wilderness Medical Society, 2150 S 1300 E, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Virus-free. www.avast.com

Nepal Mountaineering Association working on Himalayan issues

Report to the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) shows efforts and hard work to make mountaineering a great sport and occupation

Ang Tshering Sherpa has filed a report with the UIAA with updates on the work the association is doing. The association has been around for years, however the avalanche on Mt. Everest this spring has prompted this new round of action on behalf of the association.

This is a very comprehensive report showing work on dozens of topics.

See Nepal Himalaya issues being addressed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2014 Recreation Law (720) 334-8529


Call or Email me if you need legal services around these issues.

Email: Rec-law@recreation-law.com

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By Recreation Law    Rec-law@recreation-law.com         James H. Moss         #Authorrank

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#AdventureTourism, #AdventureTravelLaw, #AdventureTravelLawyer, #AttorneyatLaw, #Backpacking, #BicyclingLaw, #Camps, #ChallengeCourse, #ChallengeCourseLaw, #ChallengeCourseLawyer, #CyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw, #FitnessLawyer, #Hiking, #HumanPowered, #HumanPoweredRecreation, #IceClimbing, #JamesHMoss, #JimMoss, #Law, #Mountaineering, #Negligence, #OutdoorLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #OutsideLaw, #OutsideLawyer, #RecLaw, #Rec-Law, #RecLawBlog, #Rec-LawBlog, #RecLawyer, #RecreationalLawyer, #RecreationLaw, #RecreationLawBlog, #RecreationLawcom, #Recreation-Lawcom, #Recreation-Law.com, #RiskManagement, #RockClimbing, #RockClimbingLawyer, #RopesCourse, #RopesCourseLawyer, #SkiAreas, #Skiing, #SkiLaw, #Snowboarding, #SummerCamp, #Tourism, #TravelLaw, #YouthCamps, #ZipLineLawyer,  International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, UIAA, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Mt. Everest, Everest, Nepal,


Why did Everest Get Its Name

John Boyle presentation July 23, 2013


What do you think? Leave a comment.

If you like this let your friends know or post it on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn

Copyright 2013 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

Email: Rec-law@recreation-law.com

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Facebook: Rec.Law.Now

Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law


Mobile Site: http://m.recreation-law.com

By Recreation Law    Rec-law@recreation-law.com      James H. Moss         #Authorrank

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#RecreationLaw, #@RecreationLaw, #Cycling.Law #Fitness.Law, #Ski.Law, #Outside.Law, #Recreation.Law, #Recreation-Law.com, #Outdoor Law, #Recreation Law, #Outdoor Recreation Law, #Adventure Travel Law, #law, #Travel Law, #Jim Moss, #James H. Moss, #Attorney at Law, #Tourism, #Adventure Tourism, #Rec-Law, #Rec-Law Blog, #Recreation Law, #Recreation Law Blog, #Risk Management, #Human Powered, #Human Powered Recreation,# Cycling Law, #Bicycling Law, #Fitness Law, #Recreation-Law.com, #Backpacking, #Hiking, #Mountaineering, #Ice Climbing, #Rock Climbing, #Ropes Course, #Challenge Course, #Summer Camp, #Camps, #Youth Camps, #Skiing, #Ski Areas, #Negligence, #Snowboarding, #RecreationLaw, #@RecreationLaw, #Cycling.Law #Fitness.Law, #SkiLaw, #Outside.Law, #Recreation.Law, #RecreationLaw.com, #OutdoorLaw, #RecreationLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #AdventureTravelLaw, #Law, #TravelLaw, #JimMoss, #JamesHMoss, #AttorneyatLaw, #Tourism, #AdventureTourism, #RecLaw, #RecLawBlog, #RecreationLawBlog, #RiskManagement, #HumanPowered, #HumanPoweredRecreation,# CyclingLaw, #BicyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw, #RecreationLaw.com, #Backpacking, #Hiking, #Mountaineering, #IceClimbing, #RockClimbing, #RopesCourse, #ChallengeCourse, #SummerCamp, #Camps, #YouthCamps, #Skiing, #Ski Areas, #Negligence, #Snowboarding, sport and recreation laws, ski law, cycling law, Colorado law, law for recreation and sport managers, bicycling and the law, cycling and the law, ski helmet law, skiers code, skiing accidents, Recreation Lawyer, Ski Lawyer, Paddlesports Lawyer, Cycling Lawyer, Recreational Lawyer, Fitness Lawyer, Rec Lawyer, Challenge Course Lawyer, Ropes Course Lawyer, Zip Line Lawyer, Rock Climbing Lawyer, Adventure Travel Lawyer, Outside Lawyer, Recreation Lawyer, Ski Lawyer, Paddlesports Lawyer, Cycling Lawyer, #RecreationalLawyer, #FitnessLawyer, #RecLawyer, #ChallengeCourseLawyer, #RopesCourseLawyer, #ZipLineLawyer, #RockClimbingLawyer, #AdventureTravelLawyer, #OutsideLawyer, American Alpine Club, AAC, American Alpine Club Library, John Boyle, John Boyle Himalayan Collection, Mt. Everest, Everest,


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