Name: Stacy Allison
Sport: Mountaineering/rock climbing
Books: Beyond the Limits, Many Mountains to Climb
Profession: General contractor and motivational business speaker
I did a winter ascent of Mount Washington in the Cascades, and we got caught in a blizzard. I discovered that I had a capacity to overcome the physical challenge and push through. After that, I sought more challenging mountains, such as Mount McKinley. I didn’t think about climbing Everest until I had the skills. Back then, no one was guiding Everest—you had to rely on yourself to be physically capable of standing on top of the world.
It didn’t change who I am as a person. It was a stepping stone, and it made me a role model—a responsibility I don’t take lightly. When I speak to audiences about teamwork and leadership and risk-taking, I have to be truthful. I have to live the talk.
No. Mountaineers know the risks before they go, know the statistics. For most elite climbers, fear is a distraction that takes you away from focusing on the tasks at hand. If you’re thinking about death, you need to leave. You always think you’re coming back. It’s the people you leave behind who are the most afraid, because they don’t know what’s going on moment to moment.
I’m really afraid of the ocean. I worked on a fishing trawler in Sitka, Alaska, when I was 19, and I was terrified the entire time.
I led the climb which included three Canadians and four Americans. We succeeded in getting three to the top. While the rest of us waited at 26,000 feet, one of the Canadians fell 8,000 feet to his death. As the leader, I had a responsibility to turn around. A storm moved in, and we barely got off the mountain alive.
You can’t do it alone. You accomplish things by working together with other people, utilizing their strengths and resources. Push through your fear, try things that take you out of your comfort zone. Understand that failure is part of the process toward success. Finally, dream big—why limit yourself? If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Visit Stacy’s website beyondthelimits.com