Some 24 hours after the massive earthquake in Nepal, we got hit with a huge aftershock. The entire Khumbu Glacier beneath our tent slid back and forth several inches. The 6.5 magnitude tremor rattled the fragile ice we were living on at Everest Camp 1.
Just as they had yesterday, giant avalanches ripped off the summit ridges right above our camp site. Ice blocks tumbled down the 4,000-foot wall from the West Shoulder of Everest toward us. Across the Western Cwm valley, more debris tumbled down the 6,000-foot north face of Nuptse and piled up at the bottom, just two hundred yards from our tent.
Having spent the last day trapped at Camp 1, unsure of how we were going to get off of Everest, we were already plagued with uncertainty. Now with avalanches growling and the Earth moving beneath our boots once again, our team’s anxiety leapt higher.
In this video from that moment, watch and listen carefully to our excellent guide and leader, Emily Johnston, in the blue jacket:
When a team is scared, calm leadership is crucial. Notice how my teammates and I looked to our leader Emily for support and direction. In just 30 seconds, Emily demonstrated several key attributes of calm leadership, including:
- Speak with clarity, calmness, and moderate volume (no yelling)
- Acknowledge people’s feelings and concerns
- Provide a positive perspective that the team will endure
- Share key information
Emily did all this in the first minute, and she did far more in the days ahead to lead us calmly and safely through scary times up on Everest.
Calm leadership holds teams together during uncertainty and increases everyone’s resilience.
Speaking of Adventure
Note: This is the fifth video in a gripping series that I shot on Mount Everest immediately after the earthquake on April 25, 2015. Watch this space for another video on Thursday, December 3, 2015.