Over the last year, as my expedition to Nepal drew ever closer, people at my presentations frequently asked: So, how do you climb Everest? While some wanted details about the route, gear and techniques, most people were asking a bigger, more important question:
I have dreamed of climbing Mount Everest for 36 years. By this time tomorrow, I will be in Kathmandu to begin climbing the world’s highest peak (29,035 ft.). It has not been easy, but with a lot of help from family, friends and supporters, this dream is now becoming real.
Using my preparations for Everest as a model, here are three tips for turning your dream into reality.
I began planning more than three decades ago, and yet Everest has only seemed likely for me in the past 6 years. Do the math and you can see that I was planning for a goal that seemed way out of reach for about 25 years! I just kept steering myself in the direction of my dream by:
- Reading all I could about it (Everest books, maps, trip reports)
- Building skills that I would need (ice climbing, avalanche awareness, etc.)
- Putting myself in places and situations to meet people that had already been there
The last one leverages a very important concept: You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. I have found this to be totally true, and very powerful. Hang around with heavy drinkers in bars and see what you become. Or, spend your time with enthusiastic athletes/musicians/writers and watch where it takes you. It’s almost magic.
All those preparations give you a broad base of experience while also identifying the skills and knowledge you lack. The impossible dream, has now been upgraded to possible, and you now have a short list of specific needs to close the gap even further.
After 25 years of skill building and climbing other high peaks, the foundation was firmed up. My dream to climb Everest now seemed possible, but only if I drove toward it harder and faster. That’s when you need to prepare exactly for the big dream. By goal-specific preparation, you eliminate the final obstacles and upgrade the situation to “probable”. For Everest, my preparations included:
- Climbing the sixth highest peak in the world (test my ability to function in the Death Zone above 25,000 feet)
- Training vigorously for a whole year (I trained 4-6 days per week for 12 months, and ascended 200,311 feet. From base camp to summit, Everest is about 12,500 feet.)
- Believing that I could climb Mount Everest (Perhaps the hardest step of all)
None of these are easy. Some of them are expensive. All of them take time and energy. No matter what you aspire to, a vigorous investment of time, money and effort is needed.
While planning and preparing are required, they will not be enough to make your dream come true. You must also persist.
Life happens. Every time you hit an obstacle or life knocks you down, you are at risk of loosening your grip on the dream. Hang on tight!
Family complexities, job changes and financial setbacks will naturally occur. You must deal with them. But, don’t let those inevitable challenges and delays de-rail your dream. After the storm in your life calms down, return again to driving toward your dream.
Plan. Prepare. Persist. That’s how big dreams get turned into reality. That’s how big mountains get climbed.
From now through May, I will be in Nepal climbing Everest. Please follow my dispatches and photos to see how high a dream can go. Then, go turn your dream into reality.