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A Story of Survival: Cisco’s Brian Dickinson Conquered Mt. Everest

May 15, 2012
at 1:55 pm PST

One year ago, I waited anxiously with my teammates Ray Bellantoni and Jennifer Carole to get word on our new friend – and Cisco colleague – Brian Dickinson. He was ascending Mt Everest.

Brian had contacted us about doing a WebEx from base camp. He thought it would be cool to put our technology to the test and Ray, who produced events, jumped at the opportunity.

Little did we realize Brian would become a friend we cared about in a very personal way. As we learned more about his journey, we started to understand the dangers involved in the climb and the risks to his safety. It was a nerve-wracking time.

Brian’s over all goal, to reach the Seven Summits around the world – with Mt Everest possibly posing the greatest challenge. We ended up holding three WebEx events with Brian where many of you joined us to learn about his commitment and drive.

Before, During and After the Climb

For me, the most exhilarating WebEx was the one he did from base camp. To see him nestled in the mountain tops, glistening white in the background, was thrilling. At one point, we had to pause while we waited for a helicopter to fly out carrying climbers who had succumbed to altitude sickness.

As it turns out there was good reason for us to feel anxious that day. While Brian made it to the summit of Everest, he almost didn’t make it back. He ended up making a solo ascent. He reached the top and saw the world from its highest point.

But at the top of the world, six miles above sea level, Brian became snow blind and had to descend without his sight. To make matters worse, he was alone and on his way down a crampon popped off. Blind, unable to climb properly, he faced one more challenge: he ran out of oxygen [read his entire story - blog 16 is the one with all the drama].

Thankfully, he made it back down and he was able to get back to base camp and eventually to his understanding wife and wonderful family. He joined us for a final WebEx to take us through the events of the ascent and I remember how good it was to see him at sea-level once again and know he was safe.

The Gift of Hindsight

Brian acknowledged this anniversary in his blog yesterday. He’s getting ready for his next climb: Denali.

With a little over a week to go before Denali I am busy dialing in my gear and testing my split board with Karakoram bindings…. Today when I got home and was making a latte I realized that a year ago right now I was heading up toward the summit of Mount Everest. It is crazy to think that was a year ago as it seems like yesterday. Right about now I was getting close to the balcony at 27500 feet where I waited for Pasang [his Sherpa] for an hour. Shortly after that he would be heading back down and I would continue up solo. I had no idea what was in store and the miracle from God that would save my life and get me down safely. I feel so blessed to have gone through the experience, even though it was the hardest and scariest thing I could imagine happening.

We wish him every success and thank him for sharing his adventures with us last year.

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