Self Arrest Technique

This video is intended as a review of the proper self arrest technique to be used in mountaineering. This video was produces by Glenmore Lodge in Scotland.

We are NOT Canadian Outback Adventures

Summit TB logoWe are not Canadian Outback Adventures. We are Summit Team Building. Many people find us both when searching for team building options and wonder what the difference is. Now I cannot tell you exactly what Canadian Outback Adventures does as I am from Summit Team Building and I would never tell you Canadian Outback Adventures is no good as they do provide good programs for specific needs.

Here at Summit Team Building we focus on building high performance teams through three focused program categories.

Our team building programs offer a fun, engaging and educational break from a meeting or a conference. We have many programs to choose from and each with a different theme and outcome. Some programs are indoors and some are out. Some are more physical and some are more cerebral. Some are rooted in deep learning and others are pure fun. Some have a philanthropic component and some do not. The options are many and the benefits are great. We can offer team building programs across Canada and in the United States and can work with groups of any size.

Our Team Development programs are designed to take your teams, team members and your leaders to a new level of performance. We utilize a unique team development program approach where we combine the best of the traditional training environment with engaging experiential activities. These experiential activities bring our team development programs to life and help the learner better understand and apply the program content.

Our keynote speaker and motivational speaker events are a great way to kick off a meeting, to bring greater depth to an after dinner keynote or to close a conference with a strong, educational and motivational message. Scott Kress will share riveting and dramatic stories of his climb of Mount Everest and tie this to relevant and easy to apply models, tools and strategies. As a keynote speaker and motivational speaker it is hard to beat Scott’s performance.

At Summit Team Building we can help you make your conference or meeting a more valuable experience and remember, we are not Canadian Outback Adventures.


Everest: So why is Mount Everest so dangerous?


8000m is a special line in the climbing world as there are only 14 mountains in the world above everest blog photos 6 8000m. This is a very dangerous altitude and one that humans are not built to withstand. Over the years the tragic reality of going above 8000m has caused climbers to give this thin-air region the name “the death zone”. While this is a very dramatic term, it means exactly that. If you go above 8,000m for too long, you will die, guaranteed. And just how long is too long? It can be anywhere between 1-4 days at the most.

Of the 14 mountains in the world that rise into the death zone Everest happens to be the tallest at 8,848m.

The altitude above 8,000m is so dangerous that the human body can no longer regenerate cells. If you get a cut above 8000m it will not heal until you drop to a lower altitude. Your immune system does not work as well and antibiotics are practically useless. The rapid death of body cells is caused by a combination of oxygen deprivation and pressure changes, and by the way our body reacts to these changes. As our cells die and are not replaced, our body enters a “triage” state. It starts shutting down less important bodily functions by reducing oxygen and blood flow to the muscles, brain and extremities. This becomes a rapid chain reaction of events that, in turn, lead to a quick downward slide toward extreme fatigue, lassitude, incapacitation, unconsciousness and eventually heart failure. Assuming you do not die of hypothermia first.

This is not the only thing happening to your body at high altitude. Your body is accustomed to operating in a pretty narrow range of atmospheric pressures. Once you go above around 4,000 metres your body loses its equilibrium. Due to the lower atmospheric pressure, fluids begin to leak from your cells, veins and capillaries. These fluids can pool in your lungs (pulmonary oedema) or in and on your brain (cerebral oedema). Both can quickly cause death if not treated, and the only real treatment is rapid descent to lower elevations where your body can re-gain its equilibrium.

If you are near the summit of Mount Everest and cerebral or pulmonary oedema sets in, you are in big trouble. It is unlikely you will be able to descend fast enough to alleviate the symptoms. The more it sets in, the more you become mentally and physically incapacitated, reducing your ability to descend even more. Afflicted climbers will frequently stumble and fall off the route or just sit down and die. They will make poor decisions. They will start to hallucinate and some will become combative to those who try to help them. It is a very frightening situation to be in.

Pure, simple and extreme exhaustion is also blamed for many deaths on Everest and the other high mountains of the world. By the time climbers start their summit bid they have usually been on the mountain for at least six weeks. They have not slept well for much of that time and they have lost a considerable amount of weight and muscle mass. They have likely not eaten much for days, and have burned tens of thousands of calories. They are far from the picture of top fitness, and now they must now push their bodies harder than they have ever pushed before. While the goal of reaching the summit is a very strong motivator, once it has been achieved, many climbers are unable to maintain the focus and motivation necessary for the descent. I have been told that close to eighty percent of all climbers who die on Everest do so after reaching the summit (this % may have changed with all the recent deaths in the ice fall and at base camp). They die on the way down. They simply run out of gas, sit down, close their eyes and never get up again.

I have not even begun to discuss hypothermia, hypoxia, avalanches, snow and wind storms, extreme temperatures, rock and ice fall and the myriad of other potential dangers on Everest. The fact is that Everest is a bloody dangerous place and needs to be respected for the power it holds.

If you are intrigued by Everest, go into it with open eyes. Get the education you need and prepare. Yes it is a dangerous place, but given the right preparation, training and experience you can reduce, but never eliminate, many of the risks involved in a climb of Everest.

Everest: Fact and Fiction

vinson3With the large amount of media attention on Everest these days, I thought I would update and re-publish a series of blogs I had written previously about Everest. I love the sport of high altitude mountaineering and as an Everest speaker I attempt to use my experiences to help others climb their own mountains.

There is no question that high altitude mountaineering is exciting and dramatic, but there is also a lot of misinformation out there. I hope to shed some light on the sport I have chosen as my own. I hope you find my blogs interesting and insightful. And please remember these are my thoughts, insights and interpretations. Not everyone will necessarily agree with my words and that is ok. We all understand and experience this world a little differently.

Some of the topics I will discuss include:

  • Why is Mount Everest so dangerous?
  • Why would you hire an Everest speaker for your meeting, conference or event?
  • How to select the right Everest speaker for your event.
  • Why are so many people going to Everest in spite of this danger?
  • Is there an overcrowding issue on Everest?
  • How is climate change impacting safety on Everest?
  • Can Everest be guided safely?
  • Can Everest be climbed safely without supplemental oxygen?
  • What is the reality of rescue above 8000m?
  • What role does team work play in success, failure and death on Everest?
  • What role does leadership play in success, failure and death on Everest?

I hope you enjoy these blogs and find them interesting and educational.

Leadership Training in the Modern World


Leadership training is a common focus for internet searches and books. Each year over 1500 books on leadership are published. Engaging in leadership training is a great way to supplement your learning, but leadership training should be only one part of your development strategy.

If you are interested in leadership training you must first figure out what you mean by leadership training. Are you looking for personal development or skills training. Do you have a specific focus such as leading change, strategy development, vision or leadership style. Once you decide on what you are really looking for you need to find the leadership training that will help you meet these needs.

At Summit Team Building we offer many options when looking for leadership training. Regardless of the program you choose we guarantee the program to be engaging, insightful, self-reflective and easily applicable to your current leadership goals and challenges.

At Summit Team Building we offer leadership training programs in emotional intelligence, leading change, developing vision, leadership style, and 360 assessment for leadership development.

All leadership training programs will provide models tools and strategies that are relevant to your leadership development needs. We ask participants in our leadership training programs to capture their key insights throughout the program and then to select the insight that is most relevant to a current leadership goal or challenge. We then guide our leadership training participants to develop a personal action plan to apply this learning at work. Finally we connect each leadership training participant with an internal peer-to-peer coaching buddy. The coaching buddy program provides each leadership training participant with an easily accessible coach that knows their business and encourages a collaborative, communicative and coaching culture at work.

Summit team building has offered various leadership training programs for leading EMBA and MBA programs and our programs have won several instructional awards and our facilitators have won awards including Professor of the year.


What are the best team building activities?

who-we-are_rYou might ask “what are the best team building activities?” The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. To find the best team building activities for your group you need to first have a clear understanding of what you are looking for.

Team Building be defined in many different ways and team building activities are even more diverse. Team building can be a social event designed to network and build relationships. Dinners and drinks may fit into this category. Sometimes events such as bowling and paint ball will be considered team building activities because you are interacting with your team and building bonds. Some people will even put training and development initiatives into the team building category.

At Summit we define team building activities as professionally designed and led programs created to enhance specific elements of team performance. These frequently happen during a meeting or conference. Sometimes this is a simple as team relationships, and sometimes it focuses on a specific skill of high performance teamwork such as communication, problem solving, leadership, brainstorming, or change. The key definer of a team building program is that it is on the shorter length (1-3 hours) and is highly interactive and experiential. The content and discussion is light and the activity dominates the session.

Summit Team Building programs offer a variety of options to choose from. Some programs are indoors and some are out. Some are more physical and some are more cerebral. Some are rooted in deep learning and others are pure fun. Some have a philanthropic component and some do not. The options are many and the benefits are great.

Feature team building activity: Play it Forward is a fun scavenger hunt based activity that has a great feel good give back component to it. Teams earn money based on their performance and this money is loaned a third world entrepreneur via Kiva. Not only are you building your team, but you are also helping to make the world a better place.

Having launched Play it Forward in 2009 we have now loaned over $104,000.00 to people in need and the amount continues to grow with every program we deliver.

Regardless of the team building activity you choose it must be appropriate for your group and meet your self-defined goals and objectives. We at Summit Team Building are professionals at doing this and will help you get the most out of your team building activity experience.


Everest-The Movie Review

Everest movie posterWell Everest has made it to Hollywood. Love it or hate it, Everest is on the big screen. I saw the movie in Imax 3D and as one who has been to the top of Everest thought I would share my thoughts of the film.

First of all, I liked it. I would not say it was the best movie I have ever seen, but it was well done, realistic, and not unnecessarily dramatic.

The movie shares the well-known story of the tragic events that took place on Everest on May 10th, 1996 when 8 climbers lost their lives. This is such a complex story that I wondered how they could tell it within a 2-hour movie and do it any justice.

The answer is to focus on only a few of the participants on the ill-fated climb. Rob Hall and Scott Fischer feature heavily, as they should, as the head guides for Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness respectively. As do Doug Hansen and Beck Weathers, two of the climbers on Rob Hall’s team.

John Krakauer, Yasuka Namba, Andy Harris and others play a small part in the Hollywood story, but their connection to this tragedy cannot be simply forgotten about.

As a climbing movie I felt the director did quite a good job regarding realism. So many Hollywood movies invent technology and events to make the story more dramatic. As the saying goes “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. This story, however, needs no props to create drama. Although a non-climber may not understand all the nuances of high altitude climbing and the related tools and techniques, the movie did not greatly embellish this and presented a pretty realistic portrait of what it is like to climb Everest.

I felt the story moved very fast and some of the climbing scenes were cut short and the character development was a little light. That being said it is a complex story that would be difficult to tell in 2-hours so something had to give.

The cinematography is breathtaking. In 3D it almost feels like you are there. The shots of Everest are spectacular and took me back to climbing it myself. The green screen, studio, and other shots made to simulate Everest were very well done and in many cases were difficult to tell from the real thing.

As a drama, the movie does a fantastic job. There were quite a few tears shed in the theatre I was in. The loss of life and the disruption of life are real and hits you heavy in the heart. The movie wrapped up suddenly leaving me with a feeling of wanting more. More story. More about the people. More about the aftermath. But the time was up. Having read any of the multitude of books about this tragedy is a definite edge to help fill in the gaps left by lack of time.

Overall I enjoyed the film and would recommend it to others. It does a good job portraying the harsh reality of high altitude mountaineering and telling the story of the tragic events that are a part of Everest history. Perhaps this movie will make some thrill seekers think twice before signing up to climb Everest, then then again probably not. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity and this movie, combined with two recent very tragic seasons on Everest will likely have the exact opposite effect it should and the numbers of climbers heading to Everest will likely continue to increase as a result.

Go see the movie. Take it for what it is. Do not judge what happened because you were not there. Those who have been above 8000m will understand the reality it brings with it.