Words and photos by Epic Backpacker Tours founder Chris Lininger
Like most travel companies working on the other side of the Covid-Era – a lot happened over here at Epic in 2022.
We laughed, we cried, and we did some truly epic shit.
2022 was the most important year for Epic Backpacker Tours on many levels with lots of achievements to celebrate and a lot of lessons learned.
Below is a recap of our year and some insights into how life in adventure tourism went for us in 2022.
Back to Business - About Damn Time
2020 and 2021 sucked for the travel industry – full stop.
Tour operators – and especially niche tour operators like us who travel to unusual destinations – were some of the first businesses to close and some of the last to reopen.
We did not run a single trip for 18 months or take a paycheck during that period. Wow.
The vibe in 2022 was just different – in the best possible way.
We were finally able to get back out there again and it felt damn good. We got more clients out on bucket-list adventures than ever before – doubling our client totals from past years in 2022.
Seeing 2022 from the perspective of the other side – I am full of gratitude for the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and positive mindset our current team displayed these past few years.
We stuck with it, and gave every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears we had – and the result was that Epic survived the Covid era; something I am very proud of.
Launching New Tour Destinations: Iran, Finally!
This year, we launched many new tours in several different countries.
The one we were most stoked on was finally getting the chance to run our Ultimate Iran Adventure tour. This expedition has had a rough launch due to many factors, primarily the fact that Covid shut down Iran the day we were due to start a sold-out trip in March 2020.
After years of anticipation, we ran TWO trips to Iran this year and it was very satisfying to see the trip FINALLY run.
Special thanks to Pedro and our ground team in Iran for making these trips so memorable.
As of the time of writing, our hearts really go out to the people of Iran and we hope that the sustained protests that have been happening in Iran since September 2022 will result in the much-needed change for that country.
Snow Lake Trek: The Craziest Trip of 2022
The Snow Lake Expedition in Pakistan we did back in August was without a doubt the most intense and wild trip of the year.
We ran this trip in collaboration with our good friend Jackson Groves and hand-selected participants for the trip.
The resulting team was made up of really cool people from all over the world and something about the dynamic of this group just clicked in a way that I have not experienced before as a guide. The wolf pack was born.
Through all kinds of weather and terrain conditions, the team succeeded in crossing the challenging Hispar La pass – making us the only team of the year to cross from the Biafo Glacier to the Hispar Glacier (we heard 27 other teams failed; stat unconfirmed) – which we did in a bloody whiteout snowstorm.
The Snow Lake trip pretty much sums up why I got into the business of adventure tourism as we had a little bit of everything thrown at us mixed with the fact that a big part of the trekking itinerary was new to me. It is safe to say that we came out the other side of that trip with our memory banks full of epic and our hearts and mind content.
Our Adventures in Pakistan Continue
Pakistan is where it all started for us and this year we did more in Pakistan than ever before with 4 different itineraries and 7 expeditions in Pakistan total in 2022.
It is always a treat for us to get back to Hunza and to see our dear friends in Ghulkin Village and the Northern Areas. We look forward to getting back there again next spring.
Multiple Successful K2 Base Camp Trek Trips!
Our cornerstone adventure trip – the K2 Base Camp Trek – is always intense, fun as hell, and another major highlight of our year.
This past summer we ran several K2 Base Camp Trek trips at the same time – getting a record number of people (for Epic) out onto the Baltoro Glacier and K2 Base Camp.
The major highlight experienced by our first group was the opportunity to ascend Gondogoro La (5600 meters) in perfect weather. I have never seen Gondogoro La so clear and we had crazy views in all directions from the “summit” of the pass.
One member of our team – Mr. Larry – also became the oldest person to cross Gondogoro La this year – which he did at the age of 74. Good job Larry! What a badass.
Epic leading tours in Europe? What??
An exciting deviation happened from the more traditional Epic Backpacker Tours destinations like Pakistan and Iran; in 2022 we ran our first ever trip in Europe!
But this was not your classic European tourist trip to Italy or Paris – because if we started doing that, people would lose their minds.
No, no – we started running trips to a place called Madeira Island. Many of you probably could not find Madeira on a map – which is exactly why we thought it would be the perfect destination for a new Epic tour.
Our first Madeira trip in November 2022 was so much fun. This island is so rewarding for the people who come here and we are exceptionally proud to offer a one-of-a-kind itinerary here.
Look out for more Madeira Island expeditions to be offered in 2023!
Towards the end of 2021 – one of the founding members of Epic decided the adventure tourism game was not for him and moved on to greener pastures. His departure marked an end of an era for Epic.
With his departure, the course for 2022 was set in an entirely new direction.
Such is the game in life, business, and pandemics – people come and go and things can not stay the same forever if you want to be an innovative industry leader.
2022 was the year that Epic got to spread its wings and operate as a true team and family through hard work, grit, persistence, and a little bit of luck from the mountain gods.
Fortune favors the brave and at the end of 2022 the Epic community is larger and more vibrant than ever – and perhaps most importantly – everyone involved with Epic is actively involved in making us on the cutting edge of adventure tourism.
I am proud to say that our current tight-knit community of passionate adventure junkies are among the best in the business who genuinely care about delivering authentic, off-beat adventure experiences to our clients.
2023: What is Next?
Despite having our most successful year at Epic to date, to say that we are satisfied would simply be false.
We are hungry for more and we want to continue our mission to provide raw, authentic adventure experiences for our community.
I think it is important to celebrate the wins of this year, but it is also important to not get too comfortable.
This is true in the mountains, in life, in relationships, etc. This concept of not getting too comfortable kind of relates to everything. If you get too comfortable, the wheels will start to rust and will eventually fall off.
There is a LOT to look forward to in 2023. New trips, new countries, new mountains – the stoke is coming and the fire of excitement for what 2023 brings is burning.
Two trips we are especially stoked on for next year:
Island Peak Expedition – Nepal – Epic is leading our first expedition in Nepal! This one was only offered to past Epic clients and was not directly advertised (that is why you can’t find it on our website). As a trip leader, there is nothing better than having a whole team made up of people I already know and trust – which for Island Peak – will be awesome.
Fann Mountains Trek – Tajikistan/Uzbekistan – We are also branching out to a few more “Stans”!
Another new destination on the horizon awaits us in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan/Uzbekistan. This trip is a proper multi-day adventure with many days out in the backcountry. We are already getting booked up for this trip, so get in touch if you want to be a part of the expedition!
For those of you who joined us this year, or will be joining us in 2023, thank you for supporting our small (but mighty) adventure company. It means the world to us that you have become part of our tight-knit community.
We wish everyone happy holidays and happiness, health, and big adventure days in 2023.
Founder of Epic