Dave Hahn is an American professional mountain guide, ski patroller, and lecturer who is widely renowned as a non-Sherpa climber who has reached the summit of Mountain Everest 15 times. Dave Hahn is also known for his 35 summits of Vinson Massif- Antarctica’s highest mountain. He is a guide known for his rescues over Mount Everest and Mount Rainier and many other mountains.
He is an inspiration for the younger generation of mountain guides who want to dedicate their lives to guiding and exploring the mountains.
Dave Allen Hahn was born on November 3, 1961, at a military base in Okinawa, Japan.
His father, Ron Hahn, was an experienced mountaineer and rock climber. The name of his mother is unknown; however, she was from Albuquerque. Sadly, she died when Dave was ten years old.
Dave Hahn grew up in California and New York. Later, he resided in Taos Valley in New Mexico.
As per Dave Hahn, some of his earliest memories of his boyhood involved road trips through the high desert and mountains of New Mexico.
Dave Hahn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1984. He was also inducted into the State University of New York at Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
How did his love for mountains begin?
After graduating from college in 1984, Dave Hahn headed towards New Mexico, widely known as Land of Enchantment, for its culture, beautiful sceneries, and cuisine.
In 1985, Dave wanted to go on a trip to Denali with his father, Ron Hahn. However, his father had another plan in mind. Ron persuaded Dave to climb Mount Rainier before climbing the highest mountain peak in North America, Denali (20,310 feet above sea level).
He joined a week-long instructional climbing seminar where he met guides who had been on mountains all over the world. Those guides were only 5 to 10 years older than him. Meeting those guides opened his eyes to a new possibility for his future. He was sure about what he wanted to do in his life.
After he summited Mount Denali with his father, he was immediately hired as a guide in the next year. Then, he began traveling and living the nomadic lifestyle and eventually became one of the most accomplished high elevation guides in history.
Dave Hahn would not be the professional mountain guide that he is now without his rigorous training. He has been trained and certified as:
- Emergency Medical Technician
- American Avalanche Institute Avalanche Level II
- Leave No Trace Trainer
Dave Hahn got his first job in 1985 at Angel Fire as a ski instructor.
In 1986, he shifted to Taos, where he was hired by Ernie Blake, the founder of Taos Ski Valley, as a ski instructor. Since 1991, he has been working as a ski patroller.
Having a job as a ski patroller helped him accomplish his other passion as a legendary climbing guide.
He is also a guide for Rainier Mountaineering since 1986. He is a guide for Fathom expeditions too.
Over his career, he has summited Mount Everest 15 times out of 21 attempts. It is the highest number of summits made by any non-Sherpa on earth.
Besides Everest, he has also guided trekkers to the summit of Antarctica’s tallest mountain- the Vinson Massif for 35 times. He has also reached the summit of Alaska’s Denali 30 times.
In 1999, Dave became a member of an expedition that discovered and identified the remnants of the famous English mountaineer, George Mallory, who died with his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, while trying to be the first climber to scale Mount Everest back in 1924.
Later in 2006, he guided a team of professional athletes to ski in Mount Everest.
He continued taking clients to summit Mount Everest.
Also, Dave Hahn has led seven expeditions to South Georgia. He led trekkers on the Shackleton Traverse, a site that was named Trip of the Year by Outside Magazine in 2004.
No matter how many precautions or expertise one may have in a profession like Hahn’s, there are always plenty of disasters that unfold during the climbs.
In 2014, an ice avalanche killed 16 climbing Sherpas.
Again in 2015, Dave Hahn was on the Everest Base Camp when the massive earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes struck Nepal on April 25. The quake triggered an avalanche from Pumori to the Everest Base Camp. While Hahn’s team survived, 22 deaths were reported.
After these two tragic incidents during his guiding sessions, he stopped taking clients to summit Mount Everest.
- 300+ summits of Mount Rainier
- 37 summits of Vinson Massif, Antarctica, including Eastside and ascents of Shinn and Mount Gardner.
- 23 summits of Mount Denali
- 15 summits of Mount Everest
- 10+ summits of Mount Kilimanjaro
- Two summits of Cho Oyu
- One summit of Mount Aconcagua, Argentina
- Summits of Swiss and French Alps like Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, Jungfrau, etc.
Besides being a mountain guide and a ski patroller, Dave Hahn has also shot a high-altitude video for the ‘Lost on Everest’ program on the PBS NOVA documentary series.
He has guided a film crew to Antarctica’s Ellsworth Mountains to shoot the film named Mountain of Ice. The movie won an Emmy Award.
Hahn has also written for Outside magazine and has corresponded to several blogs like RMI blog, Eddi Bauer’s Live Your Adventure blog, and MountainZone.com.
He has also contributed to books written about Mount Everest and the search for George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.
- 2001: Selected as National Park Service’s “Denali Pro Mountaineer of the Year” for Mount McKinley’s rescues.
- 2002: Received the American Alpine Club’s “David A Sowles Award for Unselfish Valor” for rescues formed on the Tibetan flank of Mount Everest in May 2001.
- 2008: Honored by the Nepal Mountaineering Association for the rescue of a climber in distress over 27,000 feet on Everest South Side in 2007.
- 2008: ESPY “Best Outdoor Athlete” nominee.
- 2009: Received the “Citizen’s Award for Bravery” given by the U.S Department of Interior for the rescue of an injured climber in Mount Rainier in 2002. Dave received additional attention for this rescue as he helped evacuate the pilot and the injured climber from the helicopter they were in before it crashed while descending.
- Voted as Best Mountain Guide by Men’s Journal.
Dave Hahn, now 59, still works as a guide for RMI Expeditions and is a ski patroller for Taos Ski Valley. He is a heli-ski guide in Alaska-based Tordrillo Mountain Lodge.
Hahn has been mentoring and encouraging a new generation of guides.
He is a member of Eddie Bauer’s “First Ascent” climbing team. Brands like Solomon and Whittaker Mountaineering sponsor his ski equipment and climbing equipment, respectively.
He is also a brand ambassador of Taos Bakes.
In 2021, he has got two upcoming climbs:
- June 18, 2021: Denali – West Buttress Custom
- November 22, 2021: Vinson Massif