Steve and the Annapurna Massif
We trace our roots back to 1972, when I first arrived in Nepal on the evening of the December full moon. Watching the moon rise directly out of the Himalaya, which happens only in the heart of winter, I felt the magic of Nepal ensnaring me in its warm embrace. Once I began to meet the Nepali people, among the world’s happiest, I knew I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon, and the “me” going home would never be the same again.
I returned to the US in 1982 with my Nepali wife, Muna. Nine days after we arrived, our son was born and Above the Clouds was born later that same day. Once again, necessity, combined with a fierce passion, was the mother of invention. In the five years I lived in Nepal, I had visited 65 of the country’s 75 districts, and that enabled me to develop some innovative itineraries that gave us a leg up in Nepal and proved to be foundational to our growth.
Initially we offered treks only in the Nepal and Bhutan Himalaya, establishing ourselves as the premier Himalayan trekking company by the late 1980s. We began offering adventure travel in Patagonia in the late 1980s. As we had done in the Himalaya, we developed a reputation for operating quality treks in areas that most other companies hadn’t even heard of. We didn’t do this just to avoid other trekkers, but rather to introduce our groups to villagers who weren’t so accustomed to seeing trekkers that we’d be forced into a tourist-to-native relationship. By getting well off the beaten path we enable our guests to have person-to-person experiences that open a window into the world of our hosts.
In the over three decades of our history we’ve also been the operator of choice for a wide range of educational and cultural institutions, photographic tour companies, other adventure travel companies, and a multitude of private and family groups.
Our daughter Lisa joined ATC in 2008. She grew up with one foot in Nepal, and has traveled and trekked widely throughout her life. After just over five years here as my second-in-command at ATC, I decided I was ready to move away from day-to-day management of ATC and proudly passed the mantle along to her. I’ll still be here in spirit, as an advisor, and of course, when the mountains call, I’ll be here to answer.