When you are climbing, your team matters. A lot.
The ten guys with whom I summitted Cotopaxi were amazing men who I needed to be able to trust with my life. They were friends who spent months together prior to the climb. Men who were committed to the ultimate purpose of our climb–caring for children at risk. Men who took seriously the necessity to be in good physical condition. Men who wanted to see the “team” reach the summit, not just themselves. Men who are committed followers of Jesus.
On one summit climb, prior to Cotopaxi, we were working our way up Illiniza Nord. At nearly 17,000 feet, Illiniza Nord is a significant summit in its own right. We had two groups of climbers on our team–four climbers who were a bit younger and faster moving up the mountain and six of us who moved at a more steady pace. As I reached the Refuge at 15,000 feet on Illiniza I knew that our first group of climbers had arrived at least 30 minutes earlier. In my mind I wondered if our faster group would walk out of the refuge when we arrived and tease us with statements like, “Where have you been? We’ve already had lunch and taken a nap!” But when our team approached the Refuge, all four of our guys were standing on the edge clapping, whistling and cheering us on. The same was true on Cotopaxi. When one part of our team reached the summit before the rest of us, they became our biggest fans to urge us on as we approached the top.
When I was struck with altitude sickness coming down from Cotopaxi, my climbing companion, Roberto, made it his priority to get me down safely. When you are roped together on a mountain, you had better make sure you can trust the people you are tied to. When I arrived at Cotopaxi’s base camp, my illness progressing, Tom (who is a pharmacist) made sure I received the needed medication. The final trek down, through volcanic scree, Steve and Jason put their arms around me and guided/half-carried me to safer ground. Jon communicated with my wife to let her know that even though I couldn’t call, I was going to be okay.
Climbing companions matter. A lot.
And not just on a mountain. For anyone who is trying to “climb high in life.” Choose your team wisely. Those you will be tied to. Those to whom you are going to entrust your life.
When Jesus saw His ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. –Matthew 5:1-2 (The Message)