Icefall – lessons from Everest


This is Icefall.

The true story of a British teenager’s mission to make it to the top of the world – the summit of Everest.

The book is a factual (and at times emotional) account of a young lad’s journey, seemingly against the odds.

His name – Alex Staniforth.

Alex has had to overcome adversity in his young life. Bullying at school. Epilepsy. Stammering. To name but three.

The publication of his book Icefall is timely. Prince Harry is in Nepal as I write to see for himself the impact the 2015 earthquake on the country, its people, its landscape. A natural disaster which claimed the lives of nearly 9,000.

Alex was on Everest when the tremors struck and caused a deadly avalanche – from which he survived but three of his Sherpa team back at Base Camp did not.

His story should be an inspiration to others. His book (and Everest) reveals some valuable lessons for us all.

Lesson #1 – If you want something badly enough you will make it happen. Or at least take the action(s) necessary to make it happen.

Lesson #2 – When you raise your head above the parapet, and announce a BIG goal, there will ALWAYS be some who want to shoot you down.

Lesson #3 – In adversity you find out who your REAL friends are.

Lesson #4 – You don’t know what you are TRULY capable of until you push yourself to the limit… and go one step beyond.

Lesson #5 – Planning and preparation are important. Raw courage, steely spirit and bloody-minded determination can get you the rest of the way.

Lesson #6 – There are some things in life you can control – your diet, health, exercise, and so on. There are some things you cannot – the weather, earthquakes, avalanches, the economy, etc.

Lesson #7 – It’s not just children who can be bullies. Adults can be bullies, too.

Lesson #8 – Having a mentor, trainer or coach who believes in you (sometimes more strongly than you do yourself) is worth its weight in gold.

Lesson #9 – To write a book (article, blog, marketing) you have to start writing. It won’t write itself. Though you could, of course, ask someone else to do the writing for you.

Lesson #10 – If you thing times are tough or your situation is bad – there is ALWAYS someone else experiencing something worse. Keep your perspective.

Lesson #11 – Success in business is a bit like Everest. The summit is a long way off when you start. It takes time and determination to reach the top. It helps to have a support team around you. A single goal gives you focus. There is danger if you wander off the correct route. There is a model for success for you to follow. Conditions will not always be good. Knowing what to do is usually easier with experience. Skills help you overcome challenges. A clear head can lead to clear thinking and good decision-making. More haste can mean less speed. If you do not achieve your summit this year… there is always next year. If you reach the top you are only HALF way there (getting back in one piece is the other half). Celebrate your successes. Review. Move on to your next challenge.

Lesson #12 – The people of Nepal are amongst the friendliest, most kind people in the world. (Not just a lesson from this book Icefall but also from my own personal experience on trips there).

Lesson #13 – Everest is not attainable by everyone. So set your sights on smaller mountains first. Test the water. Test yourself in an easier Icefall first. Build your skills. Build your experience. Build your confidence for the higher-altitude challenges ahead.

Lesson #14 – If you want something from somebody, you have to ask (and preferably ask nicely).

Lesson #15 – If you want people to part with their money, give them good reason(s) why they should. And why they should give it to you, not somebody else.

Lesson #16 – The Icefall area is full of danger. To reach the top you sometimes have to enter areas and do things which make you nervous, a little afraid or downright scared.

Lesson #17 – Luck will always play a part in your life. Sometimes it will be “bad” luck, other times “good”. Accept that this will happen.

Lesson #18 – Teamwork and collaboration, when done well, make success more likely. When it falls down there can be chaos.

Lesson #19 – Guides get paid for guiding their clients safely to the top, to achieving their goal. Their value is in the result(s) they get for the client.  No different to consulting or marketing services for businesses.

Lesson #20 – There are lessons available to you not just in the Icefall but in all aspects of life. Should you choose to be aware of them – and take notice of them.

Alex’s book Icefall is not just about Everest.

It’s about how he got the bug for it. It’s about how he raised the tens of thousands of pounds of sponsorship money needed to make the attempt (twice). It’s about how he prepared for the adventure. It’s about the challenges he faced and set himself.

Some of those challenges were epic. On foot. By bicycle. In the UK. On the continent.

Alex has just moved out of his teens now but already has his sights on fresh challenges, ideas and opportunities.

He is also a motivational speaker, happy to address a hall or schoolchildren or a room filled with business people. Not bad for someone who was at times afraid to speak because of their stammer.

Icefall is just part of the journey.

Inspirational is an easy word to throw in to describe someone. But in this case I think it’s fully justified.

You can find more about Icefall and Alex (and order the book) on his website.

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