Archive for October, 2008


// October 26th, 2008 // No Comments » // Climbing, Leadership

“Sacrifice” is my word for the year 2008. That said, I am truly only scratching the surface of the meaning of this word and the implications it has on my life, and when others apply it, the implications it has on us all. Constantly I try to understand this word and what it means for my family and me…what it means for our country. In these times of economic and political uncertainty there are a lot of sacrifices being made. Cutting back and trimming the fat, working harder to get less and pay more. The arrival of my twin girls this year has shown me exactly how selfish I can be, especially when it comes to spending. Sacrifice – keep what you’ve got…the holey socks will make it one more winter…upgrade next year. As I struggle with this word – and even more its application in my life – I have been shown an even greater sacrifice. It is what the men and women of the armed forces are making every day as they serve in a war zone, hoping that their efforts will one day provide freedom and liberty to victims of oppression. Recently I had the opportunity to meet Army Captain Ivan Castro of the 7th Special Forces unit and climb to 14,000 feet here in Colorado on a blustery day. Ivan lost his sight while serving in Iraq when a mortar exploded just five feet from him. Thus, killing his two friends next to him and permanantly blinding him in both eyes, filling him with enough shrapnel to set off airport metal detectors. It is a huge price to pay. It is a huge sacrifice that has been made, but I feel certainly not in vain.
Starting at 7:00 a.m. we began our climb with clear skies and a swift breeze. By 10:00 a.m. we were well on our way and a bit of snow was beginning to fall (sideways and at 50 mph). Shortly after noon we had hit our high point as the wind had hit us and forced us to our knees. As a blind man, this was Ivan’s first climb. Now, we were just short of the summit, pushing through knee deep snow, with 80 mph wind gusts. These conditions proved to be just a little more than we could justify for safety’s sake. The summit would have to wait for another day. Our health and wellbeing came first, and even though I knew Ivan would have crawled with me to the summit I just couldn’t ask him do it. We pulled out the American flag in honor of his fallen comrades and our country and celebrated our high point as the wind drove the stinging snow into our faces and down our throats. As I introduced Ivan to climbing and got to know him, I kept thinking of the sacrifice he made for his country and how I still have so much to learn about this, as I attempt to live it for my family whom I love. He showed me that a patriot never gives up, by way of his enduring commitment to continue serving in the Army while blind. I saw this resolve as we climbed and know now that it is this same resolve we must all show to get through trials. To get to the top or even just survive will require some self sacrifice, perhaps giving up what is comfortable, selfish, or easy so that someone else can get a moment on a summit or live in a land of the free.