by Dave Ward | Charge The Summit
This adventure was one of the most epic yet. Picture this…18 men descended [or, maybe, ascended] into Breckenridge, Colorado. If you follow me at all, you know I like to pay attention and learn things. Learned a lot on this one.
Lesson 1: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. A few new really cool guys joined us on this trip. There is a group inside this group that is very tight and there are times when we can dominate things. You know how some people interpret being quiet as weakness? Well, I’ve learned that is a blatant misjudgment. It’s often the strongest and the smartest people who take their time, work their way into a situation, and listen to what’s happening before they make much noise.
Lesson 2: Surround yourself with as many people as you can that have achieved more than you. You’ll push yourself as hard as the people around you push themselves. If they head in early to hit the bar, you’ll head in early to hit the bar. If they decide to climb the Breck Summit to 12,998 feet, you’ll do the same. Greg Plaskett did and I followed him right up to the top.
Lesson 3: You have nothing to prove to anyone other than yourself. A lot of people talk a big game. Most of them are all hat and no cattle. What you do is what you do, and as long as you’re doing it for yourself, you are in charge. The moment you try to go hucking off of something insane to impress other people is the moment you get [more than physically] hurt.
Lesson 4: All your limitations are completely self imposed. You can do whatever you want to do if you want to do it. You’ll probably have to push, but it’s right there in front of you and the only thing in your way is you. Go for it. Seriously.
Lesson 5: Be coachable. I’ve been skiing for a few years now and, generally, I think I know everything about everything. Well, I don’t. I need to learn more and push myself harder.
Lesson 6: Practice what you’ve learned. It really doesn’t do you much good to find the greatest teacher and then never put into play what they try to teach you.
I’m sure there are more lessons, but I’m going to really soak these up for now.
On Day 1, we cruised around and I took my time working my way into it. [See Lesson 1]. I think people were expecting more of me, but that’s what I do. I work my way in, particularly on a four day trip. I’m happy to be quiet, because I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. [See Lesson 3]. However, I am competitive. A few guys on this trip could really ski. I watched and learned and realized that I wanted to get to where they were at. [See Lesson 2].
So, on Day 2, my buddy, Ryan Chapman, and I took a lesson. Most of the people on the trip thought it was crazy since we are both pretty good skiers. [See Lesson 5]. If you want to learn how to do something, find someone that knows how to do what you want to do and LISTEN. If I’m being honest, Day 2 was a little boring. The concepts were kind of technical and I got very impatient. [See Lesson 5]. Hey, no one is perfect.
On Day 3, Lesson 6 came into play. On the very first run, I started to absolutely haul ass. I put into play what I learned. We skied over 24,000 vertical feet and 25 miles and it was one of the best days I’ve ever had on skis. I had way more confidence going really, really fast.
Day 4 gifted us with Bluebird conditions. It was spectacular. Mid-morning we headed up the Imperial Chair, which leads to the Breck Summit. The chair dumps you at about 12,800 feet, but that’s not the summit. To get to the Summit, you’ve got to hike up to 12,998 feet.
Now, hiking at 13,000 feet is not what I would call “easy.” It is, quite literally, breathtaking. Most of the group decided to pass on this adventure. I put my skis on my backpack as Greg bounded up the climb. As I was going up the slope, I noticed something rather quickly. The group in front of me was getting further away, while the group behind was slowly approaching. “Don’t stop,” I kept telling myself. “I know you can’t breathe, but don’t fucking stop. Just keep going!” A few eternities later, really just moments, I was standing at 12,998 feet at the top of Breck. I bent over to catch my breath and then found Greg.
He was so stoked to see me. He thought everyone had left. Greg and I are business partners, of sorts, and he has come to me for advice a few times. I’ve always been happy to help. I never knew how much I would gain in return. He challenged me and I like that. Lots of people challenge me. Most of them are full of shit. “If you do, I will” is the way they posture their challenges. Without saying a single word, Greg said, “I’m going and you can do whatever the hell you want, but if you don’t go you’ll regret it.” So, I did. No regrets.
Maybe that’s the seventh lesson. Lead by example, not by demand. Never expect anyone to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself. Thanks, Greg Plaskett.