Resilience tested: Zawtra La High Pass

October 21, 2013

Humble the leader learns to be

This is Day 8 of our participants’ journey into the Nepal Himalaya. This is day of four quarters. The challenge is laid down.

The morning unfolds into a long, steady climb above 4000m. Late morning we pause at a small hamlet and survey the majesty of the mountains around, below and above us. The forests are now far below.

We resume and the porters race ahead, some hopping from rock to rock. The crew struggles upwards; for some this feels like a never-ending climb. Some false summits don’t help. Seeing how effortlessly our Sherpas and porters (carrying large loads) make the climb is humbling.

This insight is critical. Good leadership demands humility: the capacity to understand that it is only with the help of others – and by each person playing their role – that great deeds are accomplished. The cult of the arrogant manager or selfish athlete has no place here: it simply doesn’t work.

Resilience lesson

Then a second-wind for most as the air cools and we feel the head of the pass above us at 4700m. Breathing is hard, hard. Then the top and the snap of prayer flags. It’s another two hours hugging the contours to camp, but we all rest at the pass-head and celebrate a challenge vanquished and a breathtaking view.

Some pressure builds among the crew when (by arrangement) the tea-house fire is lit a little later than some would like. Tests like this are instructive. It is cold above 4000m. Composure is tested. This is a lesson in patience and resilience.

Finally, we warm-up and dine by the hearth before we retire to our tents. The higher we climb the scarcer wood and warmth becomes.

By Nick Farr & John Carruthers