Climbing Pikes Peak was a bit more of a challenge than I anticipated. I knew it would be very difficult but I didn’t realize the severity of strain the weather would impose. We were on the mountain at 5 AM. The first 6 miles took us up 3,000 feet through spectacular wooded foothills. At 8:20 we reached Barr Camp, the halfway point (mileage) of the climb.
At Barr Camp, the proprietor, Elizabeth, explained to us that the previous day most of the climbers had been turning back at 12,000 feet (where the tree-line ends) because the trail could not be followed due to snowcover. She warned that we could expect the same.
We pushed on to see how far we could go . . .
On our way to 12,000 feet we encountered numerous climbers heading back down the path–the trail was non-existent. We continued . . .
When we reached the mountain tree-line the trail became sketchy. I was able to pick it up again every 500 feet or so. We continued . . .
At 13,000 feet the trail was gone. It wasn’t just dusted with snow–it was covered with 1-5 feet! We had a decision to make . . . if we continued there would be no turning back. We continued . . .
After 10 hours of climbing, frequently on our hands and knees over boulders and snow . . . After twice falling through the snow crust into over-my-waist-depths . . . We summitted. All of us.
So here’s the lesson I learned in an extreme leadership situation . . .
In the first half of the climb, my wife, Julie, was struggling. Her attitude had turned negative and I honestly didn’t think she was going to make it. Let me say this before I continue: Julie was a rock-star! Once she broke through her tough part of the ascent she performed at a level she, nor I, anticipated.
Anyhow, during that time that it didn’t look like she was going to make it, I became very “short” with her. I didn’t want her to ruin “my” chance at summitting. I started to pray. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to learn this lesson but it’s the reality of what I was experiencing. As I prayed, I sensed God saying to me, “Greg, your job is not to summit this mountain. Your job is to make sure everyone on this team arrives safely at the summit.” And that’s what leadership is, isn’t it?
I’ve been thinking about Moses. Moses’ job was to lead the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. It would have been pretty hollow for Moses to have reached the Promised Land by himself with all of his followers having returned to slavery in Egypt. And Moses would have failed at the job God entrusted to him.
It’s a good thing to have a strong desire to reach the goal. It’s a better thing to make sure everyone crosses the goal together.