RIABiz

News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community

RIABiz

After guides say no to RIA adventurers' proposal to scale Mount Shasta, ankles snapped, teams faded and only a few saw the summit

The experts said it couldn't -- shouldn't -- be done but 17 advisors and execs from 10 states displayed true RIA mettle on the harrowing climb

Monday, June 13, 2016 – 5:26 PM by Guest Columnist Skip Schweiss
Admin:
0 Comments
no description available
Skip Schweiss: We contacted each of the three guide services on Mount Shasta, inquiring about guiding our group up the mountain in that time frame. Two of them told us we were crazy.

Brooke’s Note: I wrote the headline of this article, not Skip Schweiss, and I happily accept the editorial risk that readers will see how much of it is tongue-in-cheek, double in meaning and how much is straight reporting. But I’m pretty sure I’m unwilling to take on the level of risk encompassed by this climb, one that even guides questioned the sanity of. I’m quite sure I didn’t go — and I was invited. Of course, part of my reluctance had nothing to do my fear of becoming the subject of a Jon Krakauer-style Outside magazine article. I had little doubt that this group would return for dinner. But I am also aware that these people, most of whom I know from my days of covering the Tiburon CEO Summits (safely inside luxury hotels), are only happy when they are on the envelope-pushing edge of misery, whether with their businesses or a conference agenda that goes to all hours. These are type AAA characters comfortable with risk — even high risk — if managed properly with agreement on a plan that allows for plans B and C. I can’t wait to read next year’s version — from my armchair.

A year ago, after our fourth adventure scaling Four Pass Loop in Colorado, we announced our destination for “Excellent Adventure 5.0”: Mount Shasta, a 14,167-ft. snow-covered mountain in Northern California.

Sites for previous adventures were: Mt. Whitney, the Grand Canyon and Half-Dome in Yosemite.

Our standard approach to these challenges is to take them on in one day — one long, arduous day. On these four adventures we traversed a combined 80 miles and 23,000 vertical feet. We like challenges, and we have fun taking them on!

We chose Mount Shasta in part because it presented the type of outdoor adventure that we seek, and in part because it presented a new challenge: a 7,000-foot, six-mile (one-way) ascent of a snow-covered peak that would require crampons, helmets, ice axes, and roped team travel. These special skills we felt would best be tackled with professional guides.

 Chris Riggio, Scott Hanson, Skip Schweiss, Zohar Swaine, Scott MacKillop, Jon Olver and Aaron VanReenen prepare to climb as  mere mortals sleep. Chris Riggio, Scott Hanson, Skip
Schweiss, Zohar Swaine, Scott MacKillop, Jon
Olver and Aaron VanReenen prepare to
climb as mere mortals sleep.

We contacted each of the three guide services on Mount Shasta, inquiring about guiding our group up the mountain in that time frame. Two of them told us we were crazy, and refused our business. The third — SWS Mountain Guides — at least engaged us in conversation, and eventually agreed to guide us under two conditions: that we guarantee to arrive in excellent physical shape and that we would begin our ascent at midnight. We agreed.

We set about arranging logistics and getting in shape for the climb. Initially we had 30 people commit to the adventure; we arrived in California with 17 determined souls.

Man down

On the day before the climb we spent several hours under the expert tutelage of our guides, learning essential safety skills on the mountain. Unfortunately, and right at the very end of that training session, one of our team members experienced a mishap that resulted in a badly broken ankle. His climb would have to wait for another year.

That evening, we rested and made final preparations for the next day’s climb even as we worried about our teammate’s condition.

Arriving at the trailhead that night, we geared up and hit the trail, headlamps ablaze, just after midnight. The guides were keenly attuned to a volatile weather forecast, and when lightning and thunder accented the valley below, we saw the concern on their faces and in their voices over the walkie-talkies as they stayed in touch with the base camp leader below.

As we reached the steeper section of the mountain, we paused to rope up, a guide leading each team of three to four climbers. Gradually a few turned back, overcome by fatigue, altitude sickness, and the rigors of the climb. A guide accompanied hikers down to ensure safety.

Fighting strong winds and snow at the higher elevations, with a storm in the valley below and another blowing in from the north, our summit bid looked in jeopardy.

Warriors

5.0 climbers Chris Riggio, Zohar Swaine and Alex Potts 5.0 climbers Chris Riggio, Zohar Swaine
and Alex Potts

But at just after 9 a.m., one rope team reached the summit, tired and exhilarated. About the same time, guides on the other teams just below made the difficult decision to turn around; the weather was deteriorating and the risks were rising.

We all returned safely to the base of the mountain, then to town. After a bit of rest and a welcome shower, we gathered in the hotel lounge to watch an NBA Finals game (Go Warriors!), then headed to our traditional celebration dinner.

We were happy to be accompanied by our injured teammate, freshly released from the hospital and beginning his recovery from surgery. And it was obvious at dinner that our setbacks had done little to tarnish the spirit of our Excellent Adventures.

Lessons learned

At dinner that evening we celebrated our effort and achievement, while recounting the day’s events. Several lessons were revealed:

1. It is worth setting high goals, and there is value in reaching for those goals even when we fall a bit short.

2. Nothing beats preparation. Conditioning, logistics, and communication are essential to these endeavors.

3. Teamwork is critical to success. No one reached the top of Mount Shasta alone. We encouraged, supported, and inspired each other on the mountain, and our injured teammate received excellent support along his difficult journey.

4. Do not be afraid to reach out for professional help. Our guides taught us, prepared us, and positioned us for success.

5. Seventeen of us ventured to California for this adventure; six of those for the fifth straight year of this series of excellent adventures. Top-performing teams are made up of experienced veterans as well as newcomers. See: How a formerly homeless Vietnam veteran became a big-time RIA.

6. External circumstances beyond your control will sometimes determine — or at least influence — outcomes. Deal with it. A number of our teammates were disappointed at having to turn back due to the weather, but remained positive and continued to live by our values. See: Beltway-area advisors are rocked by the snowstorms of the century.

Steve Sanduski: I was sliding down the hill practicing a self-arrest, my right heel got caught in the snow, my body kept sliding while my right leg didn't. Steve Sanduski: I was sliding down
the hill practicing a self-arrest, my
right heel got caught in the
snow, my body kept sliding while
my right leg didn’t.

7. Set values and live by them. Ours continue to be, in priority order: 1) return home safely; 2) have fun; 3) attain your goal.

Honorable mentions

Chip and Skip recognize a few teammates for special effort. This year’s honorees were:

1. Mountain Man (strongest performer) – Scott Hanson See: What they do teach at Harvard Business School that’s worth learning even after banking monetary success.

2. Rookie of the Year (strongest performance by a first-time attendee): Dave Umstead and Rob Umstead.

3. Senior Stud (oldest teammate, strongest performance) — Dave Umstead

4. Purple Heart – Steve Sanduski, whose summit attempt was cut short by a broken ankle, said: “I was sliding down the hill practicing a self-arrest, my right heel got caught in the snow, my body kept sliding while my right leg didn’t, when it finally popped out, my ankle was broken in several places.” says Sanduski by email in an RIABiz Interview. And what a great attitude he showed through that painful incident! See: The top LPL producer has a second RIA-related company that could eclipse the stature of the first one.

5. Excellent Adventure Spirit Award (to the teammate who shows up prepared for his/her own success, and sets that aside to help others) – Zohar Swaine and Clark Barber, who spent hours helping Steve deal with his injury. See: Could inStream be the Next Big Thing in RIA technology?.

EA 5.0 Adventure team members:

Skip Schweiss and Chip Roame show wry pride as they breathe air low in oxygen. Skip Schweiss and Chip Roame show
wry pride as they breathe air
low in oxygen.

1. Clark Barber (Calif.)
2. Scott Hanson – Hanson McClain Advisors (Calif.)
3. Lori Kahn — TripAdvisor (Calif.)
4. Scott MacKillop – First Ascent Asset Management (Colo.)
5. Jonathan Olver – TD Ameritrade (N.J.)
6. Alex Potts – Loring Ward (Calif.)
7. Chris Riggio – Brightscope (Calif.)
8. Chip Roame – Tiburon Strategic Advisors (Calif.)
9. Jason Roberts – Pension Resource Institute (Calif.)
10. Steve Sanduski – Belay Advisors (Wis.)
11. Skip Schweiss – TD Ameritrade (Colo.)
12. Zohar Swaine – Mink Hollow Advisors (N.Y.)
13. Dan Tobias – Davidson Capital (N.C.)
14. Dave Umstead – Cape Ann Capital (Mass.)
15. Rob Umstead — Three-time Paralympic skiing medalist (Utah)
16. Bill Van Law – Raymond James (Fla.)
17. Aaron Van Reenen — Point B Management Consultants (Wash.)

Next up

It’s become our tradition to announce the next year’s trip at our Sunday celebration dinner. Excellent Adventure 6.0 will take place in Kauai, on the Kalalau Trail hike, and on the Napali Coast in kayaks. Inquire if seriously interested.

Skip Schweiss is responsible for TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Retirement Plan Services platform and is also the managing director of Advisor Advocacy & Industry Affairs.


Related Moves

After a 2018 cash scare, Scott MacKillop got a $1.5 million lifeline and -- boom -- RIAs rewarded his flat-fee TAMP with 1,000% AUM growth in 35 months

First Ascent now has $1.1 billion in RIA AUM and reached a sweet milestone -- its founder has a take-home salary and apparent sustainability.

June 14, 2021 – 8:41 PM

Skip Schweiss exit from TD Ameritrade means the RIA custody business lost its most visible corporate-paid advocate -- for the moment

TD's now ex-managing director of advisor advocacy is set to become the FPA president, but most peers agree the 58-year-old is poised to 'write his ticket' with another custodian or national RIA

August 5, 2020 – 9:33 PM

After recruitment of minorities and women gets CEO-level attention at Raymond James, a program gets a dynamic leader

With ratios stuck in the teens, CEO Paul Reilly gives chief marketing officer at subsidiary Carillon Tower Advisers, Renee Baker, her shot at mission impossible -- getting Advisor Inclusion Networks to live up to its Orwellian name

August 24, 2019 – 4:25 AM

Last year's RIA chief departs Raymond James after ship sails without her at helm of RIA unit, leaving her anchored to COO role

Maria Daley took the reins after Bill Van Law's unexpected departure, but Greg Bruce came on in March to lead RIA Unit, a job she held on interim basis

June 6, 2019 – 2:16 AM

See more related moves

Mentioned in this article:

Raymond James Financial Inc.
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Bill Van Law

Pension Resource Institute, LLC
Compliance Expert
Top Executive: Jason C. Roberts

Retirement Law Group, PC

Top Executive: Jason C. Roberts

Allworth Financial
Mergers and Acquisition Firm, RIA Serving Other RIAs, Advisory Firm
Top Executive: Scott Hanson and Pat McClain

Buckingham Strategic Partners
TAMP, Asset Manager for RIAs
Top Executive: Alex Potts




RIABiz Directory

The Industry Sourcebook for RIAs

   |    LISTING


RIABiz Directory sponsored by:

Directory Sponsor Logo