The climb that inspired our name

Maureen Leif, President and Founder of Grays Peak Strategies

Grays Peak stands at 14, 278 feet on the continental divide in Colorado. Our whole family, along with some friends, climbed Grays Peak in September of 2015.  Preparation is the key to hiking. It is nerve-wrecking preparing to climb. What is the weather going to be, what layers should you pack, and how much weight to put in your backpack that you will need to carry all day?  We prepared and packed lunches and I am pretty convinced that my youngest daughter joined the climb because I included a special treat of Cheetos in the packed lunch. After packing, we ate a hot oatmeal breakfast to help sustain our energy and headed to the trail head before sunrise. You have to plan to climb a high peak early in the morning to avoid lightning strikes in the early to late afternoon. At the beginning of the trail, everyone was pumped up and excited to start the long climb of 8.5 miles roundtrip and a vertical climb of 3,500 feet.  Soon we all began to realize that this was going to be a long day. Your body starts to feel heavy and fatigued and there is a long way to go. There were times that the group would tell stories to distract ourselves and then there were other points where we all walked in silence trying to just catch our breath and keep our minds straight.

About two miles into the trail becomes increasingly steeper. There are times when you look at ahead at the climb left and it does not feel like you can do it. It was interesting to me that at different times during the hike, different people in our group would be the leader, charging ahead and encouraging the rest of us. It reminded me that everyone has it within themselves to step up and bring the others along the path. I feel that way about business and life. We don’t all know that we are or can be a leader but when faced with a challenge many people whether designated or not can step up and rise to the occasion. Even my nine year old would give me a needed push when I was out of breath and felt tired.

It has been my dream to climb a “14’er” as we refer to them in Colorado (any mountain that is over 14,000 feet and there are fifty three of them here). It is a big accomplishment. At 14,000 feet the air is thin and your body is starving for oxygen. You are susceptible to altitude sickness, headache, dehydration at that level. You have to combat your negative thoughts about inability and weakness to stay the course and stay strong. It is as mentally challenging as it is physical. When you reach the top it is just as expected with views that cannot be captured by film. There is wonder and beauty all around us and at the top of a 14,000 mountain it is accentuated. I felt proud of myself, my girls, and my whole group. I hope that I am helping my daughters learn how to challenge and push themselves past what they think is possible.

Like I am finding with starting a business, the trail is full of surprise turns and obstacles, yet it is amazingly beautiful.  It is important to plan and prepare in business. I am learning that if you keep your head down looking at your feet you often forget to look up and admire and appreciate what you are surrounded by. Yet, there are other times it is necessary to just look down and take one step at a time and not look at the climb ahead. Like my climbing group, in business we must allow others to lead us at times and yet be able to step up when needed to, we all have a leader within us. There were so many similarities of starting my business and climbing my first 14’er. It is very fitting that my company be called Grays Peak to remind me of all these important lessons and to strive to inspire others to reach their own personal 14’ers.