Archive for April, 2012

Everest’s 10 Greatest moments

// April 26th, 2012 // 1 Comment » // Climbing

At the time it felt like the greatest moment in Everest’s history perhaps because it was one of the greatest moments in the lives of those of us who made up this incredible team.

Photo from Shutterstock by Daniel Prudek

Reading this recent article in Outside magazine  ( ) caused me to pause, reflect and again consider the accomplishment.  I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this historic climb and to be a member of a team that only saw the possibilities in a sea of doubt and criticism.  Though the article makes no mention of a team, my blind friend Erik knows very well that this climb for any one of us would not have happened without the other.  In many ways it is hard to believe that we actually did this and now to see that years later the first blind ascent of Everest still stands as one of the top five moments is a compliment not only to the feat but also to the people like Erik and Pasquale Scaturro who dared to cast a vision and believe in achieving the “impossible.”

A Fear of Dying

// April 23rd, 2012 // 21 Comments » // Leadership, Reflections

Life is terminal.  In my daily routine, getting caught up in the busyness of things, I often forget this fact and think that life will just keep on going.  However, there will come a time when we will all have to face this reality, some sooner than later, sudden, and unexpected and for some after a very long life.  The question then is not if we will face it but rather how.  Will we face it gracefully knowing our lives had purpose and that our soul moves on?  Or will it be with pain, anger, bitterness and fear of the unknown and of a life not fully lived, not fully given?

Recently my family had the opportunity to spend some time with a man who is wrestling with terminal brain cancer named Tom Driscoll.  About a year ago Tom was diagnosed and given weeks to live.  After multiple surgeries and a new home called hospice, Tom continues on getting the most out of each day by giving to others each day with a positive attitude and a joy for living.  The hat on his head covers the evidence of cancer much of the time, but Tom is not afraid to go without and show his now misshapen head and the damage this disease has caused.

The damage is to his brain but has not affected his heart, his spirit, or his will and that is because he knows that the worst kind of cancer is the kind that devours the soul.  Tom doesn’t just attend church, sneak into the back row while bitterly praying to God “Why me?!”  He gets up front, stands tall, and sings praises to God as a member of the choir.  In spite of the fact that he may not see the transformation of another season, he is a man at peace because he knows the true transformation has already taken place inside of him.  He knows his savior, he knows Jesus, therefore he has peace even though his today will soon pass.

Tom gave my family a gift.  A reminder to live each day positively, with purpose, faith, hope and love.  To be strong and courageous, not given to fear.
Should you take the opportunity to go and meet someone like Tom, be ready to be infected, not by a disease, but by a power that can transform the fear of death and the unknown
into acceptance by faith of those things unseen.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why – a book review

// April 2nd, 2012 // No Comments » // Book Reviews

Suggested by a few friends, I recently read a best-seller called Deep Survival a book on what it takes to be a survivor.  Well researched and well written Luarence Gonzales does a great job of giving the reader stories and practical advice on surviving life’s most difficult situations, hardships, problems, pains or whatever you might prefer to call them – hard times that require a lot of an individual or group.  Deep Survival gets into some very “heady” psychology which at times I breezed over because I was really looking for the practical aspects of survival that I knew were in this book.  I thought that should I find myself in need, I would not be reflecting on the anatomy of my brain to get me through a situation.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, especially if you have never had to employ a survivor mentality in your life.  I would also recommend this book to those who are leaders as well as to those who teach outdoor skills or lead trips into the wilderness.  Not a handbook by any means, this book does offer big picture advice with very diverse application.  If I were to sum it up this book said to me (and these are my own words):

If you are going to do something “stupid” be smart about it.

By that I mean, if you are going climbing for example, play by the rules.  Tell others where you are going, climb with an experienced partner, bring the proper gear, build up your experience before taking on big routes etc.  You get the picture.

As far as what the book tells us, all of his stories, research and advice come together in summary to offer this practical help:


Perceive, Believe, then Act
Avoid impulsive behavior dont hurry
Know your stuff
Get the Information
Commune with the dead – that is to say know how people die doing what it is you are about to do.
Be humble
When in Doubt bail out – (Keep a PMA positive mental attitude) – dont blame others
Stay calm, maintain a sense of humor
Think, analyze, Plan
Take correct decisive action
Celebrate success
Count your blessings
Play, sing, count – occupy the mind
See the beauty around you
Believe you will succeed
Surrender the fear not to fear
Do whatever is necessary

I have employed all of those tips wether it be changing diapers, or responding to multi-party life-threatening injuries on the side of a mountain and found that in my experience Gonzales is right on.  Staying calm, cool and collected while engaging one’s brain is the key to survival.  Though this book is very secular in nature he did briefly touch on the fact that those who have a high degree of faith tend to have a higher survival rate.  Speaking personally here I have to say that faith in God, his plan, and divine purpose must not be overlooked.  I have no other explanation for the fact that the authors own Grandfather fell from 30,000 feet in the sky in a shot up, torn apart bomber that killed the entire crew except him.  No survivor training will help in this case.  Call it luck, divine intervention, a miracle or whatever you like, but this tells me of a plan the Lord has for all of us that goes beyond our own survival or understanding.