About Four Winds
Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service has been guiding trips in the Himalaya since 1994. We have more than 22 years and 38 seasons of experience at altitude, including 19 successful climbing expeditions. With an emphasis on uncrowded treks and remote climbs, clients leave Nepal/Tibet having experienced the rich culture, ancient trails, and the intense climbing available in the Himalaya. Founder Matt Fioretti has been Alpine climbing since 1984 and brings 26 years of experience to the high altitude arena. Gambia Sherpa and Singa Lama joined Matt early on and bring with them more than 30 years combined experience on the trails and steep faces of the high peaks. The accumulation of years and passion for the mountains between the 3 individuals insures a safe, rare adventure.
Our trips are intimate. We allow only 6 to 9 trekkers and 2 to 6 climbers on a journey. You can call the owner Matt Fioretti at home or office anytime prior to the trek or climb. Weather your on a climb or trek, individual attention is one of our top priorities. You can expect prompt, courteous responses to your questions. Pre-trip orientations allow for everyone to receive a comfortable knowledge about the journey. While on the trek our adherence to small group size helps members become brother and sister, a camaraderie that often lasts for years afterwards. The intimacy is extended to our Sherpa and Nepali friends. We have created lasting relationships with the locals. Our group is greeted with a warmth that suggests we are part of the family. You feel at home and get a “backstage” view into the culture.
Almost anyone can do a trek in the Himalaya. You can be a beginner and feel comfortable with our experienced staff. Our age group has spanned 11 to 79 years old. The pace is slow and comfortable, each day hiking village to village and traversing the highest mountain range in the world. Everyone has acclimatized on our treks because of the calm pace and expertise of the guides. For the more advanced we offer guided and commercial climbs. Climbers with experience but daunted by the idea of high altitude, are taught expedition skills and the logistics of climbing a big mountain in a safe environment. For those who don’t need a guide we offer commercial trips. This means we handle all the logistics and red tape that are inherent in the Nepal Permit system, but you go as a climbing team member proficient at climbing.
Safety is our number one priority. Each group is registered with the American Embassy in Kathmandu and is equipped with a satalite phone. In 22 years of leading trips on the trails and mountains of Nepal our safety record is flawless.
Join us. We are personable, professional, fun, and have years of experience at altitude.
We specialize in the Himalaya of Nepal so you will have a transformational, adventure. One cannot walk through the Himalaya with out being changed or experiencing some shift in the soul.
Trekking and Climbing Shedule
What clients have to say....
True to his word, Matt was committed to safety on our trek to Nepal.He is knowledgeable, organized and has a positive attitude which is infectious. Matt is well loved in the communities we visited. The respect and admiration he has developed with the Nepali people created a unique, enhanced and truly exceptional experience for our group. Thanks, Matt! October 2013 Trek.
Going to Nepal was like stepping into the pages of National Geographic with the color, chaos and crowds of Kathmandu to the breathtakingly beautiful snow capped Himalayas. Matt had said we would stay with friends (I read business associates; I was wrong). These people were Matt's second family and they treated us as family. I didn't have as much vacation time as the rest of my group, so I returned early. It snowed one night and the inn keeper, Urken wouldn't let me leave until the trail was broken. A little while later I looked out the window and Urken was up on the mountain checking the trail for me. He came back in and said it was safe to go now. Later as I was crossing one of many suspension bridges, my porter, Prem, ran ahead of me to stop the yak train from starting across the bridge until I had finished crossing. With Matt's group you're not a tourist, you're part of Nepal, you're family.
“It has been years since I went with Matt and his crew to Ama Dablam and crazy as it sounds, it still feels like yesterday. The experience was one that is hard to put into words, when you are there amongst the people and grandeur of the Himalayas you feel all at once small and insignificant, yet more real and present than ever. I carry the essence and spirit of that journey with me everyday. Just go… more than that, go with Matt.”
I was just shy of 60 when I did the Everest Trail Trek with Matt. It was one of the most memorable events in my life! I loved it! And I learned some trekking lessons that apply to the rest of life, as well---like "Pace yourself." Those of us who did pace ourselves made it to the magnificent Everest Base Camp area at 17,000'. Throughout the entire trek we always felt secure with wonderfully kind Sherpas always there to lend a hand and encourage us onward. It was a grand initial experience into trekking that held so very many gifts from beginning to end.
"My trips to Nepal with Four Winds were life-changing experiences, in the best possible way. Being halfway around the world, in an unfamiliar place, thousands of miles away from everything you know, can be a scary situation, but when you're with Matt, there's a comfort level. It feels like all of Nepal is your family."
Yes, the trek stands out as one of my life's most amazing experiences, certainly because of the Himalayas magnificence, but also due to our group's lighthearted, playful camaraderie, the welcoming arms of the locals at the teahouses where you had been before, evening card games, and the way you kept us always under your protective eye ... checking every day for our oxygen saturation levels, making sure we drank enough water, stopping for rest when needed, and also encouraging us along, like on Gokyo Ri, for those last panting steps, so that I might not miss the view of one of the world's most spectacular, breath-taking sights ... and yet, I never felt pampered or stifled, as you simultaneously offered ample space for us to move in our own rhythms, moods and pace.
If I never properly said thanks to you before for all that Matt ... Thanks!!! ... the experience will continue to resonate within me for my lifetime!
Some things that are extraordinary about Nepal and going with Four Winds. Kids smiling faces, fluffy clouds, the aroma of incense, village life, and the journey in the mountains. I especially liked the pace of the trek. I could go at my own pace and felt comfortable. Tim S.
With Matt I have successfully climbed a 6000 meter peak and a 8000 meter peak in the Himalaya even though I suffer from a liver disease. The first was Naya Kanga, 6000M, post -monsoon , in the Langtang region near Ganga La. The friends I made have become lifelong best friends, not only the fellow trekkers but the sherpas as well, like Singi and Sangi who brought me milk tea (Dudh Chai)and cheese on the descent. The Four Winds staff, assistants and Sherpas, make the journey possible. When climbing Cho Oyu from Tibet we spent 7 weeks in the Dingri Region and 4 weeks above 20K feet, climbing to 27,500 feet without oxygen. Matt, being the consummate guide escorted a sick teammate back to BC. Two of the five members made the summit. When I go back it will be with Four Winds and fortunately with Matt who also had a serious illness sidetrack him, but who has already made his recovery and found his way back to the Himalayas. This is the true meaning of meeting life's challenges, and this is what you can achieve with Four Winds. Hope to see you on the high mountains. Namaste!
Matt and Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service kindled in me a deep love of alpine climbing on my first trip to Nepal in 1999. This first trip taught me a lot and I have returned to Nepal with Matt four times since. Matt has a deep love and respect for the indigenous culture of the Sherpa people of the Khumbu, and in his 20 year dealings with the people in that region, he has established many deep friendships; it is especially remarkable to share in these connections with him. I have always felt safe when climbing with Matt. He has developed good mountain sense over the years, and his motto "may the four winds blow you safely home" is a propos of his climbing philosophy which holds safety in high regard. Matt is also a fountainhead of ideas, and has always provided a source of inspiration for those seekers who take to the mountains. I have learned a lot from Matt's personal struggles with aplastic anemia, and his return to active climbing continues to inspire many people to see mountains as metaphors for the challenges we all face in life. I have Matt to thank for what has developed into a life-long passion for me. It all started with one trip to the Himalaya.
My journey to Nepal with Matt and Four Winds was inspirational and life-transforming. Matt's expertise in guiding allowed us to safely explore the exquisite beauty of the Himalayas and experience Nepal's fascinating culture. We always felt welcome wherever we went, as Matt has formed incredible connections with the people of Kathmandu, the sherpas who gently encouraged us, and the families who brought us into their homes and fed us delicious meals. Nepal is a hiker and climber's paradise and an adventurer's dream. It's beauty is truly divine. The journey has made a permanent impact on the way I live my life, appreciate nature and take risks. I highly recommend traveling with Four Winds! Aileen P.
The smell was of burning lantern oils and incense. The colors were the bluest of blues for the sky and the whitest of whites for the clouds. The sounds were of another language, and the ringing of yak bells were soothing to my ears late into the night. The touch of the air was bitter cold in a soothing way. The taste of the food was bland, yet sweet and interesting to my taste buds. When I close my eyes and think back on this journey , it was the most romantic thing I have aver experienced on my own. I have returned with Four Winds 3 times. David Frisk
“Thank you Matt for my wonderful trip to Nepal. It really changed my life forever” Jeanne
Thursday, February 10, 2011
A Day in the Himalaya
We started off at 8 p.m. from 16000 feet and were taking a trail that is used mostly by locals and a handful of trekkers. I had just spoken with my wife on Skype so my spirit was floating. I could tell it would be one of those magical days where there is no structure of time. An open arena where one can become the wind. We started off slow and were headed down valley, the great North ridge of Cholatse shooting straight out of the ground and rising almost 5000 vertical feet to her summit. Our hike was below the vast west face of this mountain who’s snows meet stone, then wild flower.
On this day I was hiking with Gombu. He is the son of my head guide Chapa Sherpa who had passed away in 2008. I had never spoke with Gombu about his fathers passing and was curious about the last minutes of his life. The days of his passing are clear in my mind.
I remember one afternoon in August while I was barefoot in my vegetable garden, Chapa had flashed through my mind. An urgency prompted me to call Nepal. I straightened from the row of carrots I was thinning, washed my bare feet off with the hose and went to make the call. I hadn’t spoken with Chapa in months but now in the middle of the day, on a hot lazy afternoon,the pull to speak with him was unexplainable. Entering my house I noticed the prayer flags that lay in a wooden bowl. They were the vertical prayer flags that attach to a pole so I had not gotten around to hanging them. Deep inside I wanted to hang them on a special day.
When the other end of the line crackled to life it was Gombu. He seemed in good spirits, “Hello Uncle, how are you?”. I became “uncle” to Chapas 6 kids. Chapa and I had worked 15 expeditions together and after each climb we would return to his house for a huge table of food. Dhal Bhat, Chicken Curry, broccoli with Masala, spiced lentils with plenty of rice . I would play with the kids and buy them gum, Chocolate, and treats their parents forbid them to eat. It was always an exciting reunion and even more so when I would announce it was time for all the kids to go for ice cream at the shop 2 doors down. Four of the youngest kids would quickly grab me. Two kids to an arm they would pull me toward the ice cream shop, huge smiles, laughter, and a menu of ice cream being screamed in my ear.
Because of the delay on the phone Gombu repeated “hello Uncle”. “Yes Gombu how are you and family?” “Father is sick he has the flu”. “Gombu can I speak with him?” “Yes OK OK!” I could hear the phone being rustled around. Chapas voice came clear and strong. “Hello Matt.” “Hello Chapa how are you?” His reply was delayed, there was an eery silence. “I am fine Matt but not feeling so well.” I remember being worried and promptly suggested he go to the hospital. We ended the conversation on pleasantries.
The next morning I pass the bowl with the prayer flags and decided today was the day to hang them. I was not quite sure what was so special about the day at the time. When I opened the french doors to my home in West Seattle, the smell of lavender was strong, a monarch butterfly flitted above the koi pond, a light breeze made music with the bamboo leaves. A squirrel had scored a peach from my tree and was happily rolling it down my sloped driveway. The day had a strong sense of peace. I grabbed the 2 sets of prayer flags and hung them in the prominent corner of my yard. Looking up at them flapping in the wind a thousand memories of Himalayan adventures raced through me and again Chapa came to mind and a smile creased the corners of my mouth.
What I would find out later that day in August of 2008 was that Chapa had gone to the hospital that night, the same day in Seattle I had called him out of the blue , on a spontaneous whim. In the night, right around the time I was hanging the Tibetan prayer flags that had sat for 2 years in a wood bowl, Chapa had passed. I received an email from Gombu because it is expensive for them to call. I opened the email about 3 hours after I had planted the prayer flags.
“Dear Uncle, My beloved father has departed this world. I dont know what family life will be without father. In his last breath he whispered your name to me”
As we descended, I couldn’t help but think about Chapas last minutes. After receiving the unbelievable email I had never had a chance to talk with the kids or Chapas wife in detail about what happened. Now the first hour had passed and I was alone with Gombu in a place where I used to walk with Chapa. I asked about the last 10 minutes of chapas life, what did Chapa say? Gombu said "the whole 10 minutes I do not know. The last 3 minutes he said 2 things." The first thing Chapa said to Gombu was: "Gombu do not worry about me, I always have uncle Matt with me". The second thing he said to Gombu: “Gombu, please stick by uncle matt, his heart is of purity, he will take care of you and family". Shocked I asked if that is what exactly what his father said. "Yes". After Gombu’s reply I pulled off the trail. I was trembling and began to cry. Gombu dropped his head. I was in pain. This man took care of me for 15 years in the mountains. He was the living Buddha and I his student. Between the pain and tears I was also happy. Happy that I had a real friend in life. Between sobs I would look up to see huge mountains blurred by tears of happiness and pain. I swung around wildly and looked across a 10 thousand year old glacier, into the rock and ice, dry tundra on the high hills. I could feel Chapa everywhere.
Gombu and I slowly recovered and headed down trail. Two hours pass and we arrive at a stone hut. A Sherpa in his 70s is digging potatos from his terraced garden. These terraces and his stone hut Cheat gravity. Glancing down hill the canyon drops to the river. One slip and it would be a quick arrival at the bottom. I ask the man if he wants help. "yes". No words he just hands me an adze like farming tool. He puffs a cigarette, he has 3 teeth with gaps between, a handmade wool hat sits crooked on his head. His hands are of steel and stone. They make mine look like a fragile orchid protected in a green house, temperature just right. I dig for 15 minutes stop and ask Gombu to dig. We are digging potatoes at 15000ft. A man appears in the door way of the Sherpas house. "This is my brother from Tibet, he has just traveled over the high passes at night to arrive here. He did not want to be detected by the Chinese" I ask his name. "Pasang" he says in a deep growl. He is wild eyed, red cheek bones, a wild horse would be tame looking standing next to him. He has a traditional knife wrapped in his sash around his waist. He smiles a smile that brings down all defenses. We all sip tea outside the door, the valley flowing below, wind, a high sun.
We continue. An hour passes. Grey trail dust swirling from the wind, the bright red tundra brush, and white white granite, color and time blend. The occasional purple blue wild iris clump and cling to wind scoured dirt. An hour seems infinite. A typical day on a Himalayan trail where often the world disappears and the walk is a meditation.
I step through an open space in a stone wall that crosses the trail. I run into a man building an outhouse for his mother in law. He is very humble and quiet. Something did not fit. He just did not seem like an outhouse builder. He was strong, his movement smooth. He balanced on the support sticks of the roof, they bent and swayed under his weight but his balance was unchallenged. I asked his name. "Danaru". He came down. He asked " Do I see you in this valley? "Yes" I reply knowing that we have probably crossed paths before. I ask him where he lives. He happens to live in Phortse where my friend Dave works at the climbing school. Danaru has climbed everest 17 times, just 2 times less than my friend Apa. He knows Dave, Apa, and we connect like brothers. His mother in-law brings out hard boiled eggs and black tea. We sit in the pasture like setting in front of a stone house. The village name is “na”. We talk as if we had known each other through the ages, peel the shell from the hard boiled eggs and eat. A few chickens gather around our feet hoping for a morsel and pecking at the shells.
He finishes his tea and begins working on the outhouse. I shoulder my pack and continue. It is a connection that will last a life time. Just before we drop over the rim of the river gorge I hear a whooop. Look back and Danaru is waving from the top of the outhouse both hands above his head, a smile that says, “I will see you again”.
It is afternoon maybe 2 p.m. We are in the deep gorge of the Dudh Kosi, words than mean milk river. The sun is passing below the far ridges in the West. A chill sets in but the warmth of the people we have met today and the angels that still accompany us produces a fire inside of me. I turn to Gombu and say “What a day”. He smiles and being a Sherpa from the City knows he has experienced a magical day in the Himalaya, his fathers spirit close at hand.