MEET THE TEAM
Having led hundreds of remote treks, climbs, exploratory and research expeditions, rescues and emergency response missions around the world from Antarctica to Everest and the Arctic to the Outback, our leaders are passionate, professional and experts in their fields.
Andrew Lock leads many of his own expeditions, so you know you are in the very best hands. He is joined by hand picked, globally experienced leaders with whom he has personally worked, and whose customer feedback is always outstanding. Please meet us below.
Andrew is Australia’s most accomplished high altitude mountaineer, being the only Australian, in fact the only member of the entire British Commonwealth to have climbed every 8000 metre peak in the world. Already a highly experienced adventurer, in 1990 he led his first trekking group to K2 basecamp, shortly after guiding an ascent of Lobuche East in Nepal, with every member of the team successfully reaching the summit. Following this he led treks and mountaineering expeditions to Nepal, Pakistan, Central Asia and North and South America, including Aconcagua, Denali, Peru, Bolivia, Kokoda and Mt Elbrus.
He spent three years in Antarctica leading and training expeditioners involved in Australia’s National Antarctic Research programme. In 2000 he became the first Australian to lead a commercial expedition to the summit of Mt Everest. He has guided clients to the summits of multiple 8000 metre mountains including Mt Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.
In 2010, Andrew was awarded the Order of Australia for services to Mountaineering and in 2016 he was awarded an Australian Commendation for Bravery for saving the lives of three climbers on Mt Everest. He has twice been awarded the Mt Everest medal by the Government of Nepal. He is a professional Keynote Speaker, Leadership Trainer and Crisis Management consultant.
Billi was born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. After finishing her degree as translator and interpreter at the Foreign Language Academy in Munich, she worked as a translator in London for four years while completing an MA in International Journalism at City University in London.
In 1998 she travelled to Nepal for the first time and immediately fell in love with the country, its people and amazing scenery. She took up high altitude mountaineering in the Himalaya and has since travelled to Nepal every year for trekking and climbing.
Billi reached the summit of Mount Everest in spring 2009. With this achievement, she became the first German woman to successfully climb Mount Everest from the south side. She is also the first German woman to reach the summits of four other 8000 metre peaks - Lhotse, Makalu , Manaslu and, with the success of her latest mountaineering achievement, Cho Oyu in Tibet, which she achieved without supplemental oxygen.
Billi moved to Kathmandu in 2004 and since 2006 has been leading groups on treks and climbs both in the Himalaya and further afield. She has led multiple teams up 6000 and 7000 metre peaks in Nepal and South America and Kilimanjaro in Africa.
When not in the high Himalayas, she spends her time working in humanitarian crises for Swiss Humanitarian Aid and as a press officer for the United Nations. She is fluent in English, German and Nepali languages.
Luke Smithwick works for the majority of the year in Tibet, India, and Nepal on his pursuits as a sponsored skier and climber and for the other part, guiding skiing and climbing expeditions. Since the age of 18, his chief profession has been guiding. His expedition experience includes Everest from Tibet (North, Northeast ridge), Shishapangma (Northwest buttress, ski descent), Denali (west buttress, ski traverse), Himlung, and too many Himalayan 6000 meter peaks to mention (many with ski descents). He prides himself on providing high quality trips at international guiding standards with an emphasis on each members personal goals and levels of risk tolerance.
During the 2014-2017 winter season, Luke was the snow safety director for a ski resort in Kashmir, as well as the backcountry avalanche forecaster (gulmarg-avalanche-advisory.com) for the same region. He is happiest when working in the Himalayan backcountry and is equally comfortable leading on skis or in climbing boots. Luke has logged more than 1500 days backcountry skiing, has first ski descents on 6 different continents and has skied from 8000 meters.
2019 will see him on nine Himalayan expeditions in Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and India.
Mel grew up in Lancashire, UK. After graduating from college, she travelled extensively before buying a farm and settling in rural Ireland.
At the age of thirty-three, Mel transitioned from a settled life on her farm and embarked on a ten-year odyssey, where she travelled to over fifty countries. From trekking through the jungles of Borneo to horse packing across the wilds of Patagonia, wreck-diving off the coast of the Philippines to sky-diving over the fjords of New Zealand, her thirst for adventure was never quenched.
Throughout this time, her second home was (and continues to be) the great Himalayan mountains of Nepal. Over a seventeen-year period, she developed the skills as a trekking guide and high-altitude mountaineer, with summits of several six thousand metre peaks, seven thousand metre peaks and two eight thousand meter peaks to her credit, including Mount Everest in 2016. Mel is a veteran of two Canadian Military expeditions to the Himalayas, where she guided and summited with the True Patriot Love Foundation on Island Peak in 2012 and Lobuche East in 2018.
Having achieved so much from her years of expeditioning, she understands the power of adventure to change people’s lives. Mel is experienced, skilled and resilient in extreme conditions, but it’s her gift of enduring good-spirits and people skills that leave a lasting impression on all who spend time with her on the trail.
When not in the Himalaya, she splits her time between the UK, Canada and Spain, putting the finishing touches to her memoir, Breathe.
Wanda is a Christchurch-based guide who has spent the last 20 years sharing her favourite places in Nepal, Bhutan and New Zealand with travellers.
Born in Holland and raised in Kenya, Lebanon, New Zealand and Canada, Wanda told her father when she was 12 that she wanted to be New Zealand’s high commissioner to Nepal, inspired by the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Throughout her youth and time at university where she obtained a degree in political science and a post graduate diploma in journalism, the walls of her room were always plastered with pictures of the Himalaya, although it was not until 1999 that she first visited Nepal.
Since then Wanda has returned to Nepal every year, guiding trekking trips to the most remote regions of the country as well as running intimate cultural tours that focus on fair trade and community development. She co-authored the 2003 edition of the Lonely Planet Guidebook to Nepal and contributed to the Lonely Planet trekking guidebook about trekking in Western Nepal. She also began guiding in Bhutan in 2009, taking small groups of people to off-the-beaten-track valleys and communities including Eastern Bhutan.
Wanda has a strong philosophy of giving back to the community that has led her to organize, lead and contribute to a number of projects in Nepal. Her most recent project raised over $60,000 to rebuild schools in Nepal after their 2015 earthquake. She has partnered with reputable local organisations to complete the construction of a kindergarten, primary school and a 650-student high school in the most badly affected district of Nepal. Her project Caps against Cataracts became the subject of a Canadian documentary and adds to a list that includes representing Canada on the International Porter Protection Group, building a school library at Sundaridanda, fundraising for a cataract surgery camp in Western Nepal and supporting the career development of Nepal’s only male Tapestry artist.