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Get to Know a Guide: Chris Lininger

Hello fellow adventurers!

In this week’s post, we’re going to be sharing a brand new format where we interview the staff at Epic Expeditions and find out more about who they are as an individual and as a guide. This is a great opportunity to peek behind the scenes and to see the method to our own personal madness.

Hopefully, you’ll gain not only some insight into each guide but pick up some useful tips as well.

First up is Chris Lininger: our fearless leader and director of pretty much everything over here at Epic Expeditions. Let’s see what we can learn about him today, shall we?

Who are you and what do you do at Epic Expeditions?

My name is Chris Lininger – I am the founder, director, and one of the lead guides here at Epic Expeditions. I kind of wear most of the hats around Epic and if you have ever contacted us, it is probably with me to who you have spoken.

What is your favorite part about being a guide with Epic?

I think making connections with new clients while showing them parts of a country I love deeply (Pakistan). Also, the fact that my work allows me to travel to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges on the planet is very rewarding.

I might see and experience more things in a single season than the average person does in their entire lifetime – and for that, I will be eternally humbled and grateful.

What got you into trekking and expedition planning in the first place?

Well, I was already doing this sort of stuff on my own as early as 2011, so it was a natural progression towards this sort of work as my experience and skills grew. I wanted to turn my passion, vision, and personal hobbies into a sustainable business.

I also saw so much potential in the adventure tourism possibilities in places like Pakistan. The local people I met while developing Epic Expeditions have become like family in many cases – so part of the concept of me wanting to build this business was so that people who live in rural mountain communities in places like Northern Pakistan – without the means to make much of a living – could reap the benefits of working in responsible adventure tourism.

Just working in the industry with like-minded people (our team is badass) has proven to be a good eco-system for me on a professional level.

What is the best trek that you’ve ever done?

This is a hard one. I think I will go with the Tour De Mount Blanc – a 13 day, 170 km trek through France, Italy, and Switzerland. This hike was so meaningful for me because I shared it with my Dad when he was 65 years old. I think now he is too old and not physically able to do something like that again, so I am stoked to have had that experience with him while he still could do it.

What’s your fondest memory from a trip organized by Epic?

I think running our first few trips after Covid shut everything down for 18 months. The K2 Base Camp Trek in particular in 2021 was super special for me because it was a MASSIVE amount of logistical work to make it happen due to Covid, flight cancellations, things always changing, visa problems, etc.

The fact that we pulled it off and that we pulled it off VERY WELL gave me a huge sense of personal satisfaction and gratitude. Seeing the looks on the faces of our clients when we reached Concordia, K2 Base Camp, and all of the little magic moments in between made all of the struggles to get there 1000% worth it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

This was a defining moment for me personally as well as for the character of Epic Expeditions as a brand. We just got it done because that is how we roll.

I saw what I was capable of when tested in the extreme and I knew at that moment that giving Epic Expeditions my all is exactly the direction I need to be pursuing.

Can you tell us a funny story about a misadventure?

I once lost my expedition sleeping bag while climbing (up) a 7000-meter peak, during our summit push to camp 3 – it rolled off the mountain. I then had to share a sleeping bag with my climbing partner. It was a shit situation for me and there was a blizzard outside the tent, but we sent the summit and I got a new sleeping bag a few weeks later, so drama solved and lesson learned.

What is one piece of equipment that you never hit the trail without?

Grayl Geopress and enough snacks.

What is your favorite food while guiding?

Probably soup when it is cold or snowing. Also, I love a good BBQ Tikka. Yak Burgers.

What is your favorite way to kill time? Either on the road or at camp.

Podcasts and books. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Podcast might just be my favorite thing to listen to inside of a tent.

What do you think makes Epic Expeditions special?

I think the fact that most of our clients become like good friends over the course of a trip. We genuinely care more about making sure people have a truly awesome experience with us – I’d say way more than earning a profit or cashing in in some way.

Sure, this is a business, but for me, Epic is about building community, going on crazy adventures, and showing people the sides of different countries they would otherwise never see. To strike that balance of having sustainable business practices while also prioritizing the genuine experience for our clients is a special thing.

We are one of the few tour operators in Pakistan who prioritize authenticity and unique experiences above making money or running as many trips as possible. Our mindset and approach are just different. Come with us and you shall see why first hand. You will experience the difference.

How do you prepare for a big expedition or multi-day hike?

I spend my off-season living in a place that offers a ton of challenging hikes and fitness opportunities. I also try to do a few personal big mountain expeditions a year to acclimatize and to challenge/push my own limits.

Also eating a lot in the months leading up to the expedition season helps. Because of my body type, I am prone to losing a lot of weight and muscle when I hike or climb for months in a row, especially at altitude. So I have a bit of a pack-it-on strategy for my off-season, knowing I will have the extra caloric stores built up for the guiding season – like a savings account that I can withdraw from when I need it.

So…bring on the pizza, noodles, sandwiches, and pretty much any food they serve here in Madeira Island!

Also limiting or eliminating my alcohol intake has proven to be a necessary part of keeping my body and mind sharp for the season. I am too busy and need too much physical energy for what I do to have multiple terrible hangovers a year anymore. Better to get high on mountains, sunrises, and adrenaline, than too much booze.

To be an effective leader, I too need to constantly have the pulse on where my own personal physical and mental limits are – and I find it quite healthy to push myself to the edge of my limits multiple times a year. This year, it is going to be in Nepal, before the season starts.

Come May, I’ll be ready to rip for whatever the 2022 season throws at us.

What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who is planning on going on an expedition or adventure tour?

Read the information provided, read the packing list, get in shape.

Showing up unprepared, out of shape, and not knowing what the hell is going on will only mean that you won’t get the maximum positive experience out of your trip. Preparation – both mental and physical – is the key to success when planning to do a big trip.

Is there somewhere or something that you are stoked to do in the future?

More photography, more big mountain expeditions. Spending more time with the people I love.

Anything else you want to share before signing off?

Whatever your personal goals are, nothing is impossible if you try hard and work with consistency. Consistency is the key.

Stepping outside of your personal comfort zone is also very important to have new positive experiences, challenge yourself, and see the world in a different light. If you are on the fence on whether to “go for it” or not, I think you know what you need to do.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! A little glimpse into the life of Epic Expeditions’ director and founder, Chris Lininger.

One thing that he failed to mention, which we all know as fact here at the company, is that Chris is also a coffee fanatic. You can usually find him first thing in the morning preparing the french press and caffeinated guests with grade-A arabica. And for that, we are truly grateful.

If you’d like to spend some time or share a cup of Java with Chris, he is a regular guide on the following trips:

Want to ask Chris your own question? Leave a comment below and he’ll be happy to answer!

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

Horse Trekking in Mongolia Expedition

Next trip: September 3rd - 17th, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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