Rich Fettke

Lessons Learned on a 3,000 Foot Nose

"Stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

About ten years ago I went to Yosemite National Park in California with my parents and my younger brother. We took the "Valley Floor Tour" on big green trailer that looks like a bus without a roof. The tour guide told us about the history of the valley, pointed out the huge waterfalls, spoke about the famous Half Dome, and then we stopped in front of the 3,000 foot El Capitan — one of the largest granite cliffs in the world.

The guide then said, "If you look very closely you’ll see a few small dots of color up on that cliff. Those are rock climbers." A moment later someone gasped, "I see one…up there!" as she pointed high up the cliff. I focused in and saw a small orange dot thousands of feet up this sheer face. I remember saying to my brother, "Those guys are crazy. Imagine climbing that?" Little did I know that someday I would be one of "those guys."

I’m excited to let you know that I just completed climbing the "Nose Route" of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. The Nose is said to be the best rock climb in the world and is certainly the best known. It is huge, steep and scary. It took us three days of climbing and two nights of sleeping on the wall in a little nylon cot.

Two issues ago I wrote about "The Joy of Challenge." The focus of the issue was about how, when we take on an exciting challenge, we are often rewarded with more ambition and drive for other areas of our lives. I also wrote about that fantastic feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment when we complete a big challenge.

Well, I took my own advice and joined up with Hans Florine and his wife Jacki — both very experienced, record-holding big wall climbers. The Nose of El Cap was definitely out of my comfort zone and was truly a challenge. However, with the right people (mentors) and a willingness to get out of my comfort zone (risk) I accomplished a goal that used to seem impossible.

Often those big goals or dreams are not as far off (or "impossible") as we may think. When we get passionate about developing our skills – and finding the right support – amazing progress can happen.

When you hear about someone who is super wealthy, or is in amazing physical shape, or has an ìncredible relationship (or any other type of success) what do you often think? For many, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking "those people" are extraordinary. The truth is — they are often ordinary people who have taken action and asked for help.

When one of my clients had the dream of owning her own business, she didn’t just dream. She signed up for business classes at a local college and attended SCORE to get real-world business advice from experienced mentors. She mustered up the courage to take action and to share her dream with others. Today her dream is a reality.

I’m excited to have completed the Nose Route on El Cap. I’m even more excited to be reminded of the lesson that getting out of my comfort zone, finding experienced people for support, and taking action can turn what once seemed impossible into what is now reality.

So what’s your next big climb to success? What is a dream that you would like to make a reality? Are you ready to become one of "those people"?

I wish you the best on your journey!

If you’re interested, there are more photos of our El Capitan ascent here.