Wounded Canadian soldiers team up with business leaders to battle the coldest continent in the world
In January of 2016 nine ill and injured soldiers, seventeen Canadian business leaders, one team doctor, one research specialist and one extreme photographer embarked on an challenging journey to summit Vinson Massif – the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the world’s Seven Summits.
As with previous TPL Expeditions – to the Himalayas in 2012 and the North Pole in 2014 – the purpose of this journey was to bring attention to the challenges that face members of the Canadian Armed Forces, their families and Canada’s veterans each day. By bringing these challenges into the spotlight, True Patriot Love strives to provide inspiration to those facing these issues every day, and also garner financial support and awareness from Canadians across the country.
Scott Kress, Summit Team Building President, was one of the guides for the expedition and a member of the True Patriot Love Expedition Leadership Team. Scott’s role was as a mountain guide and to help the team prepare for the expedition technically and physically and also to help the team develop into a high performance unit.
Beginning with a training camp on the Athabasca Glacier in August and continuing with weekend training session the team focused not only on the ph`ysical fitness and technical skills necessary to climb the mountain, but also on interpersonal interactions and team dynamics. Ask any experienced mountaineer and they will tell you that communication, trust, decision making, and other team interaction skills are critical to be successful on any climb. A focus on team building does not guarantee you will make it to the summit, but if you have a dysfunction team you have little to no chance of making it to the top.
It has been said that poor culture will eat great strategy for breakfast, and it will consume tools and technology by lunch. Without a focus on team building ad team dynamics you cannot take advantage of strategy and technology and you will not likely hit your business targets.
Along with focusing on team building, Scott worked with the soldier participants on personal development through the use of the MHS EQi 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment. Each soldier completed the assessment and received their report along with a copy of the book “The EQ Edge”. From here each soldier had a debrief session in which they reviewed their report and developed a personal growth plan.
Scott also connected each soldier with one of the civilian business leaders in a mentorship relationship.
It is through this intense focus on all aspects of the individual and the team that we hoped to give our team the best chance of success possible.
On January 20 2016 20 of the 26 expedition members and 5 of the 6 guides made it to the summit of Mount Vinson. The expedition started out well and continued so thanks to the teams preparation, the focus on team building and a dose of good weather.
After the 5 hour flight from Chile to Antarctica the team made their way to Mount Vinson base camp in Twin Otter ski planes. After a day of rest the team started up the mountain. The skies started blue, there was a medium breeze blowing and the temperature was around -10 Celsius.
After two days the team made it to low camp. It was here that the skies opened up and the snow came down. Antarctica is technically a desert and sees very little precipitation. Close to 5 years worth of snow fell in 24 hours and this slowed the team for a couple of days.
Once the snow stopped and had a chance to settle the team hefted extremely heavy packs and began the 8 hour climb to high camp. This was an exhausting day but all did well.
On January 17 the team was up early and set out for the summit. This long 12 hour day consists of 18km of walking with nearly 4000-feet of vertical gain to the summit. It is a big day! The climb went well until the summit ridge where we were blasted with 50 know winds and the view was obscured by clouds. We had made it to the top.
Our true Patriot Love expedition was the largest ever to attempt to climb Mount Vinson and we had the largest number of people from one expedition to summit in a single day. Overall a very successful expedition plus we raised over $2.2 million dollars for the charity.
To ready more about the expedition in detail check out the Summit Team building expedition blog.