Archive for February, 2011

Alpine Starts

// February 28th, 2011 // No Comments » // Advice, Climbing, Interviews

This is the first in what I hope will be a continuing and improving series entitled “Alpine Starts”.  An alpine start is when climbers rise before the sun to set off on a long days climb.  I took the opportunity on one of these alpine starts just the other day to ask my friend John Davis(a professional counselor working with at risk teen boys) to give a few insights into these relationships and help us better understand how to relate.

(Please forgive the rough nature of the video and edits.  It is hard to belay and shoot video at the same time.  I am also new to video editing.  The next one will be less shaky – I promise.)

The Hill of Difficulty

// February 24th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Uncategorized

My life seems to be all about hills.  I live on the side of a hill.  I grew up on the side of a different hill. I love to ski down hills and climb back up them.  On my bike I am constantly faced with the challenge of a climb due to the nature of the place I live, I can’t leave home without eventually facing a hill.  The beginning of each season presents the challenge of fitness to the muscles that have not been used for a while or that have been being used for other things (cycling muscles don’t translate into skiing muscles into ice climbing muscles into running etc.) it seems there is always training to be taken up and the moment that the difficult hill of the spring becomes mastered, it is time to change the season and begin a new climb on a new hill of difficulty.

These are the physical hills of my life yet they are no different from those of raising kids, and managing the rest of my life.  What I can learn from them however is that there is a season to every part of life and when things seem like they couldn’t get any tougher – it is nice to know they most likely will.  But the hills we climb today train us up for those we see distant on the horizon.  What is seemingly impossible with today’s strength, need not be climbed until tomorrow.  I will be stronger tomorrow.

He has founded his city on the holy mountain. Psalm 87:1


// February 21st, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Climbing, Leadership

In climbing, especially on big alpine routes, there is often a point where climbers become committed to the route.  In the vernacular and minds of climbers this means – no turning back.  Once a certain point is reached on many routes they will not allow for retreat, so the only way off is to make it to the top and finish the climb descending by another way (Much like dropping to your knee for a proposal – you’d better be sure).  To begin a climb like this one must be certain of many variables like the weather, the grade of difficulty, and most importantly one’s own abilities, fitness and mental fortitude.

At the point of commitment the objective becomes clear and all other distractions fade away.  When things go according to plan there is nothing like succeeding in the midst of a great challenge knowing that all of one’s hard earned skill and fitness have paid off especially for the good of the team.

On the other hand there is nothing worse than arriving at that point and realizing that you are over-committed, that a serious fall may result or that a rescue may be imminent.  Recently I found myself in this position, my face going flush, my stomach with a big hole in it, a state of panic setting in with a feeling of hopelessness.  No, I wasn’t up in the stratosphere on some climb, rather I found myself trying to juggle too many commitments instead of being laser focused on the ones that I had set as priorities.  The worst part of this was that by my word I had set them all as priorities instead of communicating clearly the level of commitment I would truly be capable of making.  I am limited in terms of the number of hats I can wear, and the number of pots I can keep on the stove (perhaps more limited than most), but finding myself in this position has at least alerted me to the fact that one more move up the climb would have caused a fall.  As it were I could safely retreat to a route more manageable and keeping my priorities and committments in line.

I like to challenge myself and in wrestling with committment the hardest yet best thing I can do is take an honest assessment of my abilities and communicate them to the team of which I am a part.  If I fail to do this the team will only be held back by my own selfish desire leading others on to believe I am capable of something I am not, thereby diminshing  not only my success, but their success as well.  So today I am assessing, reorganizing, and seeking the best route for my climb.

Leadership Lessons II from West Point

// February 15th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Events, Leadership, Reflections

This week I am traveling out east to the United States Military Academy – West Point.  This will be my fourth visit to the academy and I will be sharing on the virtues of trust and teamwork.  In spite of having been there before, I am a bit intimidated by the fact that this institution has been rated as the number one university in the U.S. by U.S. News, add to that tag the fact that these people are choosing this particular direction for their lives in a time of war.  By making this choice today they will undoubtedly be called upon to serve tomorrow.  Some will be shot at, some will be heroes, some might be fortunate to miss out on action all together.  The more I think about it, the more I am honored to go and share what I can from my experiences that might serve them as they go and serve our country. (The video to the right is from a climb my team did with some wounded vets.)

What I hope that they will take away from our time is the importance of personal honor and integrity which lead to trustworthiness as an individual.  The individuals who can live this way will be the greatest assets to any team which they serve as leaders.  Serving as leaders will foster the trust needed for better collaboration and cooperation as a team.  They will have a good return for their work because two are better than one, to paraphrase a verse from Ecclesiastes.  I think that the Army is one of the best examples of this and a force to be reckoned with because they exemplify the cooperative effort for a common goal on the foundation of service and sacrifice that adds up to something bigger than self.

I am on my way to go and encourage these young cadets, but somehow I think it will again be me who ends up being encouraged and challenged to go and serve.  Go Army!

Friday Stress Relief 2-11-11

// February 11th, 2011 // No Comments » // Skiing, Stress Free Moments

A day in the mountains, playing with iMovie HD for the first time.  This, I hope will make you smile.

Three Times the Love

// February 11th, 2011 // No Comments » // Reflections

With three days to go until Valentines Day, I have suddenly just realized something: I now not only need to remember this day for my wife, but for my two little girls.  As the girls get older they will soon come to understand the alleged importance of this day and also my role in remembering to shower them with candy, love and goodies.  Thus far I have squeaked by, not forgetting for the sake of my wife, whom I love, but this morning I went pale as I saw the future of what this day could look like, especially if it happened to slip my consciousness.

I do love them and I hope every day is like Valentines day for them.  I hope to raise them in a way that they feel this love and are secure enough in it, so that if I do forget there won’t be too hefty of a price to pay (maybe I am just trying to cover myself here and make an easy way out).

The fact remains I have three times the love, three times the goodies, three times the special thoughts and cards to dole out.  I think I can manage and I hope you manage too (my brother in law has 4 daughters!) but I got a little wake up to what this may look like the other day when my 2.5 yr old daughter said “Take my picture, cause I’m so cute!  “Hey Cupid, little help!”

Life in the Rearview

// February 8th, 2011 // No Comments » // Reflections


Driving in a mountain blizzard, white knuckled, kids sleeping, music off, gave me a moment to reflect on how I am living.  I try to live biblically – that is, using God’s living book to guide my decisions, my heart and my family.  Though this book was written long ago, it applies directly to our lives today, and the prophesy inside forces us to even look ahead and consider the future.  We look back to see the future.

As I looked back into my rear-view mirror, not only could I see a mass of cars eating my snow, I could see my girls and consider their future.  Too much looking back though and I would lose sight of the road, the cars ahead of me, all of the truckers, especially those who had failed the audition for Ice Road Truckers would also then be in my grill.  The rearview mirror is small for a reason.  It is meant to give us a perspective of what is behind us to help guide us as we move forward.  Our life’s history is meant to do just the same thing.  Like the sights on a rifle we can line up the lessons of yesterday with where we are today, then look ahead to tomorrow and keep things on target.  Simple in theory, harder in practice.  The windshield is large and the future may be daunting, but if we can tune in our focus the road ahead is made perhaps easier to navigate.  I have no idea what the future holds for my girls or my family, but as we move forward I will take glances back to learn from my mistakes and realign for what is coming down the road at 85 mph in a blinding snowstorm.  “Jesus take the wheel…”

The Herd Mentality

// February 3rd, 2011 // 3 Comments » // Advice, Leadership, Reflections

I have always enjoyed watching nature programs.  I grew up on mutual of Omaha with Marlin Perkins travelling the world with a camera and an assistant, showing us the behavior of beasts I’d never seen or imagined.  I recently caught a clip like this on YouTube taken by someone on safari who witnessed a pride of lions attacking a Cape Buffalo calf.  The outcome of this, I thought at first, was so predictable – the baby becomes breakfast, story over.  What ended up happening gave me chills.  The herd of Cape Buffalo banded together and came back for one of their own.  They had strength in numbers, but would still run the risk of losing a life to save that of another.  Together they pushed forward unrelentingly ultimately retrieving this calf.

Typically we speak of the “herd mentality” as being a bad thing.  It is a group of people mindlessly following each other into perilous situations with no regard for the outcome.  Though it is true that sometimes we need to stand up and separate ourselves from the herd, this video made me realize that more importantly we often need that herd we are trying so desperately to stray from.

I live in a community and sometimes this community bugs me, but I know that as people that this is what we were designed for.  So as much as I want to go and live like a lone wolf (or lone Cape Buffalo), I have to look at this video and realize that I am a part of the herd and sometimes together we can actually help each other out of a hopeless situation.  Next time perhaps instead of being that calf, I can be the one taking on the lions for him.