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“I left the legislature in 2002 after serving 2 years as Caucus Chairman, 9 years as Minority Leader and 7 years as Speaker of the House.  Look what the two of you helped start. …Good luck Rick in your run for the legislature. You will be outstanding.” 

Former State Representative Clyde Ballard
(E. Wenatchee, Washington)

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525 Judd Road
Saline, MI 48176

A Formula for Success

The greatest adventure of my life occurred in 1977, when I decided that I wanted to climb Mt. McKinley, in Alaska, the highest point in North America at 20,320’. I had previously climbed Mt. Rainier (14, 411’) with the guide service, Rainier Mountaineering Inc, as well as Mt. Shasta (14,410’) in northern California with a friend. I joined 8 other strangers and our two climb leaders on Mt, Rainier for a “shake down” and some training prior to flying to Alaska. Then off to Anchorage, then by train to Talkeetna on the “moose gooser”. From there, we flew in Super Piper Cubs in 3’s and 4’s to land on Kahiltna Glacier at about 7200’ elevation on the south side of the mountain in our ski equipped planes.

We started up, going up to 8900’ and camped. Then on up to 10,000 feet and camped. Then to 11,300’ and camped, giving our sea level bodies a chance to acclimate to the altitude. (Click on thumbnail photo of us at 11,300')

Mt. McKinley at 11,300"

Up to this point, we were dragging cheap, red, K Mart sleds behind us with about 80 pounds of gear, while carrying about 60 in our packs, as the glacier sloped gently up. We had food for 30 days, and 15 gallons of gasoline for our stoves. We would have to melt snow and ice for every drop of water we were to drink on the trip. But above 11,300, the ascent got steeper, and we began to shuttle loads, making a carry to 12,800, made a cache in the snow, then returned to 11,300. The next day we climbed to our advance base camp at 14,400’

There we occupied some month or two old igloos, full of junk left by prior parties. We cleaned up the igloos, putting the junk in big, black plastic bags. The next day, on the way down to pick up gear from our cache at 12,800, we detoured towards a large crevasse to through the garbage in. (We knew the glaciers were probably 300 feet deep or more, and that it would be thousands of years before the stuff made its way down to the bottom of the mountain, more than 40 miles away, miles and miles away from any human habitation.) On the way to the crevasse, the middle man on my rope team broke through a snow bridge, beginning to fall into the depths of a crevasse. I dropped onto my ice axe, digging my crampons into the snow, in self-arrest position, and felt myself being dragged to the crevasse. I stopped him about 25 feet down, with room to spare from the lip of the crevasse. The team then pulled him back out. That is a team building exercise I don’t recommend for the timid!

From our 14,400’ camp, we made a carry up the steepest stretch of the mountain to establish a cache at 15,500’, then descended back to camp. The next day, we went back up the same stretch, picked up some of the stuff in the cache, and proceeded along a snow-covered, knife-edged ridge (over 2000’ down on each side) to our High Camp at 17,000’ The interesting thing about this stretch was watching Felix. He had lost his appetite at 10,000’ due to the altitude, had eaten little since, and tired quickly. Watching him trying to get up a short, steep, loose snow stretch was agonizing, as he would take a step up and slide back. But eventually, he made it up there, and on to our High Camp – albeit slowly.

The next day, we went for the summit. It was surreal, with the altitude affecting us all. (In prior experiments, it was proven that the ability to do simple mathematical exercises is reduced in half at 18,000 feet, because of the thin air at that altitude.) But going up the last 300’ of elevation to the summit ridge was painstakingly slow, taking 5 or 6 pressure breaths per step, and even then, having to rest for 10 minutes when we got to the top of the ridge to rest before going along the ridge to the true summit. We all made it!

When we got down to our Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier, I marveled to Felix about what he did, asking how was even possible, as tired as he had been. He said, “I always knew I could take one more step.”

This climb demonstrates the formula for success:

  1. Have a dream or goal
  2. Develop a plan to achieve your goal, breaking down the task into easy bites
  3. Work your plan, step by step
  4. When the going gets tough, when you want to quit, just remember Felix, and “take one more step’

One Last Story, but Not About Me (biography continued)

Get to know me

My Life Looked at Through a Different Lens

The Beginnings

The Importance of Education: The Huge Potential in All of Us

Mom’s Mental Toughness and What Rubbed Off On Me

Connections To Positive Psychology

My Meandering Career – What’s It All About?

Powerful Personal Development Influences in My Life

Growing Connections With My Boys - With Miraculous Results