The day begins for our crew at 02.30 am in the Nepal Himalaya. It is cold and dark and they are sleep-deprived and lacking appetite at some 5800m above sea level.
These things are familiar to mountaineers. But for the first-timers among our crew – mountain people all nonetheless – there are nerves and anticipation. Both in equal measure.
The peak still lies almost one kilometre vertical above us. We climb onto the ice in the darkness. Beneath our crampons the ice feels hard and steady, but our breath is short. We battle fatigue and doubt. The inner challenge begins for all of us.
Leadership and resilience
There are bitterly cold winds. This is an uncommonly tough season in this region of the Himalaya. Most other teams don’t even attempt and abort. Our team has resolved not to. We pick our way slowly and nobody gives up… not even a hint of turning around. Those aspects of leadership and resilience that we have steadily worked through in the past two weeks are paying dividends.
Our crew make the summit around 9.30 am. Elation and then the long descent. Fourteen hours later our day is done. Success was never guaranteed. Preparation and leadership got us there – and back.
For all our program participants who stood on the summit it formed a powerful experience. It was a moment of winning. A kinesthetic experience of preparation and success that can help them in other aspects of their lives back at sea level.
Postscript: The moving story of several people’s journey to discover leadership on this summit program is captured in our documentary “SIX PEAKS”.
By Nick Farr & John Carruthers