Vinson Expedition - Dec 7

Posted by Scott Kress in Everest Blog , Vinson Blog

Created on Wed 07 December 2011 20:54

And tagged with: mountain climbing , leadership , Antarctica , Mount Vinson

Back Home
I am back home now after a long series of flights. I want to thank my friend Jim Carroll who upgraded me to business class for my flight from Santiago to Toronto. It was oh so nice and a great restful way to return home. Jim is a great keynote speaker and you can check him out at

photo-vinson-dec71After returning to Union Glacier base camp we waited for a day for our flight back to Punta Arenas on December 3. Union Glacier base camp is a pretty interesting place to spend some time. Both the staff and the visiting explorers offer a very interesting collection of individuals. This is a place where drive, over achieving, motivation, team work and leadership are the norm. The stories and experiences are fantastic and humbling. There are so many adventurous people out there. 

Once back in Punta Arenas I set about the daunting task of changing my scheduled flight so that I could get home early. Unfortunately most air carriers do not make this an easy task. After many phone calls and hours spent on the web it was determined that the easiest and cheapest thing for me to do was just to abandon my already paid for flights and book new tickets. The change fees and price adjustment made it impossible to use my originally booked ticked. However, this is a pretty normal part of these expeditions and one must accept the fact that additional money must often be spent to get back home. Maybe I should learn and just book a one-way ticket next time. 

The flights home went smoothly and I arrived at the Toronto airport at 6:10am to be greeted by my family. It is always great to be back in Canada and traveling around the world has taught me how fortunate we are to be Canadian. It is also always amazing to see my family again. Even thought this was not one of my longer trips, I always miss them. 

Integrating back into “normal” life is usually pretty easy; mostly because there is no real transition period at all. Life picks up right where it left off, but with a big pile of “to do’s” that have accumulated over the last month. As the saying goes “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. 

I will, over the next week or so, fill in the gaps of my blog. I was not able to blog every day as you know and some crucial times, such as the summit of Vinson, were missed. 

photo-vinson-dec72I am now the 15th Canadian to have climbed the 7 summits; the highest peak on each of the seven continents. This all started in 1999 with my ascent of Aconcagua in Argentina. At this point I did not really have a plan to climb the seven summits, but was more focused on Everest. As I continued to climb to get experience for Everest I climbed several more of the seven summits and once I made it to the top of Everest it seemed kind of silly not to keep going and finish them off. 

While I would not put myself in the Olympic athlete category, climbing the seven summits is, if I may say so, a pretty fantastic achievement. Less than 300 people worldwide have stood on the top of these same mountains. Obviously fitness is a huge part of success in this endeavour, but once this “entry ticked” has been paid there are other factors that will ultimately determine one's success. 

Without goal setting, personal drive, sacrifice, emotional intelligence, teamwork and leadership none of this would be possible. I was speaking with one of the owners of ALE (the company that provides the logistics for Vinson climbs and South Pole expeditions) and he was talking about the countless people who have failed to achieve their Antarctic goals. Sometimes it is lack of fitness or injury that stops an individual, but more often than not it is a breakdown of leadership, teamwork or personal drive. 

The hardships endured on these extended expeditions are tremendous and it is difficult for most people to handle the pressure. This is where teamwork, leadership and personal strength come into play. Without these factors, success will not be possible.

I will need to think about what climbing the seven summits has meant to me and what I have taken from this experience, but my initial thoughts fall to how rich this experience has been for me in so many ways. I have traveled to far-flung and amazing places; parts of the planet that most people will never see. I have met great friends and untold numbers of extremely interesting people. I have pushed myself, mentally and physically, to the breaking point and returned unscathed. I have learned so much about myself and human dynamics that I could write a book (I am actually writing a book that is 80% complete and should be out soon I hope). The expedition world is such a rich environment to learn about group dynamics, team development, team work, change management, conflict management, goal setting, leadership, motivation and so many other things that play an immensely important part in our personal and professional lives. 

As most of you know I am a corporate leadership and team trainer by profession and these experiences have allowed me and my team to create very successful training programs for large and small, public and private corporations. I believe our programs are much richer from my experiences. My EMBA students have told me how much this approach to training has helped them to become better leaders and team members. 

As a keynote speaker I am blessed to be able to tell my stories to others and to share my learnings and insights with them. I was in Vancouver just before I departed to for Antarctica giving a keynote and leading a workshop to a financial organization and received a great compliment from the President. She told me that my combination of storytelling (making it interesting) and workshop application (making it real) was by far the best that they had ever experienced. They had recently brought in an Olympic athlete as a motivational speaker and I was told that while this person was extremely nice and had an interesting story, it did not have the real world application and depth that I was able to provide. 

Now I am not usually much of a self-promoter as that is not really my style, I do truly believe that what we have to offer as a company and what I offer as a speaker can provide great value to individuals and organizations alike. I feel blessed to have found this niche within which to live and I look forward to working with and helping others for a long time to come. 

Adult Gummie Vitamins, Sherpa Adventure Gear and Ostrom Outdoors, I have mentioned them before, but will do so once again because these are companies and products that I truly believe in and people who have always been there for me. 

Fitness and nutrition are a big part of my life and I know I am not always the best eater. Adult Essentials Gummy Vitamins help me to stay healthy and to get the vitamins my body requires to perform at my best. Beyond their nutritional value, they provide a valuable mental boost every morning on an expedition with their burst of yummy flavour and they do not freeze solid like so much of our food at 30 below. Give them a try if you have not already. 

Sherpa Adventure Gear is a great outdoor and lifestyle clothing company. Not only do they have great products, but they come from real Sherpa roots and support the Sherpa people of Nepal. I have worn Sherpa clothing for the last few years on all my expeditions and I have always been warm and dry. I have never suffered a clothing failure and would recommend Sherpa Adventure Gear for wearing around town and outdoor adventure alike. 

Bill Ostrom from Ostrom Outdoors has designed and built me fantastic backpacks over the years. An Ostrom pack has been with me on every one of my seven summits and countless other climbs and adventures as well. Check out if you are looking for a reliable pack for your next adventure. 

So what is my next challenge you may ask? I am not totally sure at this point. The North and South Poles have always been of interest to me and to complete the Adventure Grand Slam (the seven summits plus the North and South Pole) would be an amazing feat. I have also recently had a calling to kite ski across Greenland, so maybe I will learn to kite this winter. There are countless Himalayan peaks I would love to climb and other mountains and adventures all around the world. Sailing around the world has always excited me and terrified me at the same time and good friend, who is a sailor, has often suggested we give that a try. For the next few months however, I think I will just enjoy being home with my family and soaking up the Ontario alpine ski season.

I am truly thankful for all that I have.

Summit Life! Scott.