After joining the top workplace in the world, I decided to reach the top of the highest summit in the Americas. The mountain is Aconcagua, 6,962 meters high, in Argentina, and what I learnt there will guide me throughout my life.
After climbing a few mountains around the world and waiting more than a year for Argentina’s borders to reopen because of Covid, I finally found myself in Mendoza, Argentina, in January of 2022. These last two years, I prepared myself to face the wind, the cold, and the altitude. I should have been scared to face Aconcagua, but on this day at the hotel, only Covid could stop me. This was now part of the expedition, and the whole group must deal with it. Everyone was very impatient. Impatient to face whatever we would face on the mountain.
The days in the mountain passing, you feel all possible feelings.
Days 1, 2, 3 (2,700-3,400 meters): Enthusiasm, amazement, strength. “This is going to be a wonderful journey. What a nice place! I feel strong!” All good feelings. The beginning of a nice vacation.
Days 4, 5, 6 (3,400-4,300 meters): Headaches, fear. “My head hurts half the time. I am at 4,300 meters. How can I go to 6,962 meters if I already feel like this?” I was prepared to face hard conditions, but the effect of altitude on your body is unpredictable, and you can’t prepare for that. At this moment, every pain is an alert. The best thing to do is drink a lot, rest a lot, and hold on.
Days 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (4,300-4,950 meters): Joy (Yes, I said joy.), tiredness, boredom, sadness. “I only want to stay in my sleeping bag!” Eat, take a photograph … All bad moments because I need to move, go outside the tent, and feel the cold and the wind. Joy was there for a few minutes when I could talk to my family (For real!) in the rare moments when Wi-Fi was working. I could also send updates and pictures to my group of supporters at Cisco over WebEx and read some of their very encouraging messages.
Staying five days at base camp is not good at all. You get sick with the cold, don’t sleep well, rest all day, but somehow get more tired. It is like the vacation is finished. Now, this is the real expedition.
Days 12, 13, 14 (4,950-5400 meters): Loneliness, powerlessness. “Why am I here?”
Camps 1 and 2 are hard to reach. My 20-kilogram backpack didn’t help, but I decided to carry my stuff and not take a porter. It was my challenge within the challenge. At this altitude, your body is only getting worse, and time is your enemy. Also, some people I liked a lot gave up, and I felt more and more alone. I missed my family so much. Sometimes, I asked myself, “Why am I still here?” I knew the answers.
Days 15 and 16 (5,400-6,962 meters): Motivation, concentration, and …
At Camp 3, I had never been closer to the summit, and I knew the end of the adventure was soon. Finally, good feelings! Summit Day is a climb from 5,950 to 6,962 meters. It is the longest day of your life. When I thought I suffered enough and could soon reach the top, the guide told me, “Five more hours, Jeremy!” After a day long enough to write a book about it, I touched the top of America and fell to the ground.
… happiness, EXULTATION. I DID IT!
I fulfilled the two objectives for being there: 1) To prove to myself I could reach the summit no matter the obstacles. 2) To take a picture with the banner I had with me the whole adventure with a message I had written for my wife on it.
I could talk about the descent, but believe me, it is not interesting unless you like long, painful, and pointless stories!
What you learn on such an adventure is that you are strong, as a team and as a person. You can succeed if you believe in yourself and are prepared to face everything, especially what you don’t expect. On Aconcagua and other mountains, I learnt things that I will use every day in my personal and professional life: resilience, mental strength, and determination.
Some keys to success can be found inside you, and some by meeting people. Working at Cisco gave me the keys to reach this summit. I can never thank the people enough in this company who supported me along the way with their strong messages and the kilometers they walked to “virtually” reach the top with me! We created an internal challenge to allow people in teams of five to walk together as many kilometers as I did. Most of the teams passed me!
Here at Cisco, team spirit and passion are core values, and what I learnt working here guided me to the top. I love my job–helping customers find success with our solutions–because I am around those values every day. I love what I learn from the people in my team, the managing team, and other teams, and everyone is eager to learn from you.
Your career is an adventure with almost as many twists and turns as on a mountain, but at Cisco, it feels like you are on the summit all the time. You get to enjoy it and feel your best!
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