If you have personal heroes, we work in a pretty good industry. Suppose you were a golfer – what’s the likelihood of you ever getting to sit down for dinner with Tiger Woods, much less work with him? How many musicians will get to jam with Eric Clapton or do a duet with Norah Jones? Like basketball? Just try hanging out with Michael Jordan.
This came to me as I was at a dinner meeting. I looked around the room and realized that I was sitting next to Tim McCartney-Snape. This wasn’t new news to me, as I remembered where I had seated myself. (I mean, there was some wine there and everything, but nobody gets carried away the first night before the OR show…) I also know – of course – that Tim is a founder of Sea To Summit. We work for them, after all. But – crikey! – this was THE Tim McCartney-Snape. In my early climbing career, he was one of my #1 heroes, and now I work with him.
It wasn’t like the room was empty without Tim in it. There were others there as well, including people I’ve long worked with who are heroes in their own right. Shelley Presson-Dunbar ruled the sport-climbing scene for many, many years, and has had a long career as a trad climber, also. Rob Owens, Jean-Pierre “Peewee” Ouellet, and Team Pemba’s very own Mr. Scott Backes were also in the house. Need to climb anything, anywhere in the world? These five together would be an impressive start to your team. The rest of us in the room aren’t slackers, but these folks are all in a rarified league of their own.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work beside many other world-class athletes, many of whom I have held in high esteem or awe for most of my life. I almost fell out of my chair when Sally Edwards called me, once. I followed her whole triathlon career, starting in junior high. I was fortunate, and was able to work for her company for several years. Many of my other heroes I’ve not only met but worked with as well, including Jack Tackle, Kurt Smith, Henry Barber, Dale Bard, and Paul Piana. Once, I was even able to take Royal Robbins out to Devils Lake for a day of top-roping. He checked my set-ups, and everything.
Not to mention, think of who you bump into in the aisles: Lynn Hill, Chris Sharma, Fred Beckey, Jeff Lowe, Mark Twight, and – well – you get the idea.
In no other industry do rank-and-file enthusiasts get to hang out with the big guns. I guess you could call it a perk.