Fellowship of the High Peaks

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Joe & Pete on Matterhorn summit

Joe & Pete on Matterhorn summit

When we play atop the high peak alone, we have only our own interests to consider.  It is a simple matter to set a goal and build a plan to accommodate our skills, fitness and tolerance for risk.  There are no issues with unequal experience or inconsistent motivation. And better yet, we do not need to contend with any personality quirks, egos or annoying habits.  We can just enjoy our playtime atop the high peaks just exactly the way we want without any compromise.  And, the mountains would be full of lone wolves if it were not for one thing:  fellowship.  It is simply more fun to adventure with people we like and trust.  And as an added bonus for teaming with friends, our collective effort can minimize the risks inherent to playing in a dangerous environment. 

But a team is not a group of random individuals.  In the high peaks, members of a “team” demonstrate cooperative and supportive behavior in a common effort to accomplish hard goals.  Team members are equals and friends who value a relationship built over time and expressed in mutual understanding, honesty, sympathy, empathy, and loyalty.  And, the knowledge of one-another within a team allows complementary abilities and coordinated efforts to generate synergy, which enables a “team” to be greater than the sum of the individuals.  A team offers safety by being supportive and trustworthy. 

Joe & Pete on Mont Blanc

Joe & Pete on Mont Blanc

A group of strangers may not be safe at all.  Simply being in a group of strangers or inexperienced friends will at best have a mixed bag of safe and dangerous effects.  On the safe side, a group of people is superior to a single person in creating a “presence” that can intimidate predators (e.g., cougars, bad people) and ward off non-aggressive threats (e.g., bears).  And a group is potentially more effective in responding to an injured or lost person than is a typical person isolated in the wilderness.  But on the dangerous side, a group can quickly increase the chance of injury to any one person by increasing the chance for rock fall and avalanche.  And the larger the number of people hiking together, the more likely one of them will have some kind of issue affecting the group’s ability to succeed safely.  “Safety in numbers” is not enough.  We need people we know, people we trust not to selfishly, foolishly or ignorantly put us in danger or fail to respond properly to an emergency.  Finding a group of people is just the first step.  We then need to turn our “group” into a “team,” and that take time and effort.

In fact, building a team may be the hardest effort and most valuable accomplishment in our quest to achieve a lifetime of safe success atop the high peaks.  For as long as we adventure in the mountains, we are building and maintaining a team.  In this effort, we are always looking to add promising partners and drop unsuitable ones.  And, we are continually strengthening relationships and learning about each other in the context of shared adventures that we choose for suitability to the current level of trust and experience among the members.  This topic includes 3 essays which cover the following:

(1) What’s a Good Team?

A review of several failed partner stories to get a feel for what can go wrong, and then review the process for building a team

(2) Finding & Organizing People

Additional detail for building a team, including  (1) finding people for our group and (2) establishing an organizational structure appropriate for our members

(3) Learning to Work Together

Further details surrounding the process of building relationships within our group and learning to work together as a team.

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One Response to “Fellowship of the High Peaks”

  1. Poor Teamwork on Mt Columbia « PeakMind Says:

    […] Fellowship of the High Peaks […]

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