Summit of Mount Rainier

That’s Mike on the far left, then me, Byrl, and Russ on the summit of Mt. Rainier. I won’t forget this climb. I ruptured my left Achilles tendon six months prior. I was in top shape despite my injury. My doctor cleared me to climb.

When I reached 11,000 feet, I experienced severe cramping in my left leg. I needed to gain another 500 feet to reach our base camp. That’s a painful memory. I plopped down in camp beaten. How could I risk the push to the summit at midnight (5 hours away) if that jeopardized my climbing partners?

Alpine climbing is safest when you’re part of an experienced team. Every climber has a role – a rope links us. I figured that I was benched but my climbing partners encouraged me to rest and not give up. We talked about the safety issues and developed contingencies. I hydrated. Those 3 guys inspired me. Those 3 guys encouraged me when I was at my weakest. Those 3 guys helped me rally. Those three guys led me.

We made the summit at sunrise. I never experienced the cramping again. I slogged up the mountain pain-free. This self-portrait – I hung my camera on my ice ax – isn’t about my second Mt. Rainier summit. This shot is about honoring that team and reminding me that sometimes I need help – that I’m not meant to walk alone in life.

Asking for help takes guts. Helping the vulnerable takes courage. Play on both sides of this equation.

That’s what real leaders do…