Beyond the summit - the power of sustained engagement became the cornerstone of WWTrek and HOP

Beyond The Summit: Using Adventure to Make an Impact

By KÜHL Editor on April 17, 2024
4 min read

A Calling in the Mountains

In his early twenties, Dean Cardinale felt a gnawing restlessness in the familiar confines of the family business. Knowing he wanted to lead a life fueled by passion propelled him westward to Utah. Here, amidst the towering peaks and endless exploration opportunities, he found his calling. Initially, a restaurant job at Snowbird provided a foothold, but Dean craved something more and quickly joined the ranks of the ski patrol. This wasn't just a job; it was a gateway to a vibrant community of like-minded souls. A launchpad for expeditions across the Wasatch Range, the Utah desert, and even further to Denali and Nepal. It ultimately became the catalyst for a guiding career unlike any other.

Left Picture: The Khumbu glacier and Mount Everest under a Halo Cloud.
Right Picture: A group of trekkers headed to Mount Everest Base Camp

Guiding: A Path to Exploration and Purpose

Dean's guiding career accelerated alongside his career with the Snowbird Ski Patrol. Personal expeditions solidified this path led by passion: treks in the Himalayas, scaling volcanoes in Mexico, and reaching the summits of iconic peaks like Mont Blanc and Denali. An opportunity to assist on a Mount Everest climb opened doors, followed by requests to guide others to Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. These formative experiences fueled the creation of World Wide Trekking (WWTrek).

Guiding became the key that unlocked both exploration and financial freedom. It allowed Dean to not only live his passion for adventure but also share the joy of discovery with others. For Dean this went beyond leading people on adventures; it was about igniting their potential. The responsibility of leading a group, making crucial decisions, and witnessing individuals push beyond perceived limitations became a source of immense satisfaction. In their success, Dean found his own. But there was an appetite for more, a desire for adventures that went beyond the well-beaten tourist path. This yearning led to the birth of the Human Outreach Project (HOP).

Dean in his element leading his team and clients.

Beyond the Adventure: Building a Business with Heart

Frustrated by limitations and external factors while working for other agencies, Dean craved more control and a deeper impact. His vision extended beyond typical adventures. He envisioned a business known for meticulous attention to detail, an unwavering focus on guest experience, and a commitment to the local communities they visited. For Dean, responsible tourism wasn't just about the journey; it was about leaving a lasting positive footprint.

The belief in the power of sustained engagement became the cornerstone of WWTrek and HOP. Whether guiding a trek or breaking ground on a new community project, it’s a step-by-step process that requires patience. Giving back to the places they visited fostered a profound connection resulting in positive change. Through his work, Dean has learned that positive change requires time, trust, and respect. With consistent visits and community engagement, friendships and relationships blossomed. These bonds transformed travel into a homecoming, creating a sense of familiarity and comfort in destinations like Nepal.

Representatives from the US Embassy, Himalayan Rescue Association, Human Outreach Project and KÜHL in front of the Pheriche Clinic.

The Human Outreach Project: A Journey of Compassion

Inspired by a personal experience with a bad tooth at high altitude, HOP took shape alongside WWTrek. A modest initial donation on the very first Everest Base Camp trek sparked a desire to do more. The relationship Dean had maintained with the dentist in Namche was where he set his sights on impact. His successful partnership with the Namche Dental Clinic in Nepal fueled further growth.

In the beginning, Dean learned a lot quickly about the use and misuse of donations. Frustrated by the potential misuse of donated supplies, he adopted a set of guiding principles for all initiatives HOP became involved with: ensure appropriateness to the area, benefit and empower the local community, and do no harm. Having the patience to build trust and respect became paramount for these projects. This was made possible by consistent visits and enlisting local leadership to meet long-term needs. Local managers like Geljen Sherpa were instrumental in identifying worthy projects and avoiding those with questionable motives.

Left Picture: Geljen Sherpa, Director of Operations Nepal and his son Pasang Sherpa, Lead Guide.
Right Picture: Dean Cardinale, Founder of WWTrek and HOP and Gobi Bashyal, President of the Himalayan Rescue Association.

The Pheriche Medical Clinic and Lecture Hall exemplify this approach. After years of supporting the Himalayan Rescue Association's high-altitude clinics, the opportunity arose to rebuild the Pheriche clinic entirely. The project prioritized local employment and ensured transparency throughout the multi-year construction process. The global pandemic, while devastating to the tourism industry, presented an unexpected opportunity. With no guests to guide, the local team used their skills to break ground on the new clinic and lecture hall, providing crucial income during a difficult time.

But the story doesn't end there. The future of HOP holds ambitious plans – from continued enhancement of the Pheriche Clinic's capabilities to constructing a sports field at the Juving school. These projects aim to not only improve healthcare but also foster a sense of community and equip future generations with support for success in their lives.

Dean's story is an inspiration. He understands the importance of patience – a virtue learned amongst the peaks – and the power of adaptation in diverse environments. It's a testament to the profound impact of responsible tourism, and the ripple effect of a life dedicated to service. It's a story that beckons us to explore the world with open hearts and minds, leaving a positive footprint wherever we go.

Dean Cardinale Founder of WWTrek and HOP.

All photos courtesy of Mak Crist.

KÜHL proudly supports initiatives with HOP. If you’d like to get involved learn more here.

KÜHL Editor
KÜHL Editor


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