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Alex Harris summitting Everest - Keynote speaker and conference
Alex Harris
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Category:
Speaker
Location:
Johannesburg South Africa
Preferred Language:
English
Tags:
Adventurer,Inspiration,motivation,Professional Speaker
Profile:
Alex has been climbing and mountaineering around the world since 1989 and is South Africa’s most experienced and respected high altitude mountaineer. Alex’s easy-going nature and deep understanding of human potential has made him the first choice as expedition leader on some of the most significant South African mountaineering achievements. He has led more than 25 expeditions, which have taken him to all seven continents and the furthest corners of the world … from the jungles of Borneo, through the arid plains of Tibet, to the frozen wastelands of Antarctica. He finds in mountains a sense of purpose and destiny that give his life meaning and inspire those around him. Alex is an established speaker on the school and corporate circuit. He is also a keen caver and always seeks adventure in faraway places. When he isn’t at the top of a peak, deep underground or sharing his story on stage, you are sure to find him tearing along a stretch of tar on his beloved road bike, preparing for his next journey.
Alex has been climbing and mountaineering around the world since 1989 and is South Africa’s most experienced and respected high altitude mountaineer. Alex’s easy-going nature and deep understanding of human potential has made him the first choice as expedition leader on some of the most significant South African mountaineering achievements. He has led more than 25 expeditions, which have taken him to all seven continents and the furthest corners of the world … from the jungles
Synopsis:
PRESENTATIONS by Alex Harris

THE LONG WHITE NIGHT

On the 17th of January 2008, Alex Harris became the first South African to walk unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole. It was a journey that took 65 days and covered almost 1200km. It was, in Alex’s words, ‘the hardest thing he had ever done’.

Since Alex was a child he has been exploring the hills and valleys of his neighborhood, and then later, the mountains and remote corners of the world. In January of 1996, Alex resigned from a career in sales, and followed his passion for exploration. Alex is best known for his numerous expeditions to Everest and his climbing of the seven summits, the highest mountain on all seven continents. However, Alex was not content to just climb mountains. ‘The long white night’ is Alex’s account of walking to the South Pole.

This was a journey in the same league as Shackleton’s or Scotts expeditions. No expedition to the South Pole is easy, however, to do it unsupported and unassisted meant undertaking what is arguably the most grueling thing a human could do.

For 65 days Alex endured winds of up to 80 km/hr and temperatures of -40 C. Carrying sleds of 130kgs, Alex and his partner had to cover 20 kilometers every day if they were to stand any chance of reaching the Pole before their food ran out. To further complicate this already daunting task, Alex broke one of his skis on day 6. Alex also had the inside of his left thigh frostbitten by high winds. Finally, just when they thought they were on top of things, the largest front of the century settled over Antarctica and it snowed for 9 days. Whiteout conditions prevailed, where visibility was zero and thick snow made it almost impossible to achieve their daily distance. Yet somehow they managed to stick it through and arrive safely at the South Pole.
Tough journeys are a part of everyone’s life, whether it’s a trip up Kilimanjaro, a seemingly unattainable sales target, or uncertainly in our careers. We all face them, and we all have the ability to come through them. But it takes intention and a set of characteristics that require hard work and don’t come about by chance.

Alex’s talk looks at the fundamental need to plan and prepare. To fully understand the environment you are going to operate in. Alex discusses the critical need to set realistic goals. 1200km on skis seemed an impossible journey, but when it was broken down into degrees of latitude, days and a time, and even one hour to the next, it became possible. It’s the same for all of us. Sometimes the goal is so daunting that it wears us down just thinking about it. The trick is to distract yourself with the manageable tasks that occur daily, but to understand the power in these seemingly insignificant steps. We only got to the Pole by taking it one step at a time, and then combining them day after day after day.

Finally, Alex talks about the need to have a sense of purpose in our lives. One of the most profound sensations after getting to the Pole, was the flight back. For six hours Alex stared out the window at the snow below, trying to see some trace of their passing or a sign of how they had suffered. But there was nothing. Their tracks had been blown away by the wind or covered over with snow. In a sense, this can be our lives if we are not intentional, gone like a vapor.

Alex closes by discussing the deep and profound need all of us have to make a mark. To feel like our lives have counted for something. This is where purpose comes in. When we begin to have a sense of purpose in our lives, we become more intentional and consequently more effective. Not only do our lives benefit, but our teams do and so do our organizations.

Effective people make excellent people, and all of us were made with the capacity to be excellent!


FACING YOUR OWN EVEREST

Each and every one of us will one day come face to face with our own personal Everest. It might not be 8848m of towering ice and snow, but one thing we can be certain of, is that it will tax us like never before. It will test our very being, and question everything we have ever known. How we react will ultimately determine our future. We can succumb, and let our fears get the better of us, or we can rise to the challenge and become the people we are destined to be.

PASSION
At 25 years of age, Alex Harris was the youngest person ever to lead an expedition to Mount Everest. Shortly after receiving a permit for Everest in 1996, he resigned from a career in sales and led a small team to the North side. They had no bottled oxygen and no sherpas. They went to the North side, the harder side, and in the post monsoon season, the colder season. Guided mostly by a burning desire to see if they could climb the highest mountain on earth, they endured 52 days of hardship. They returned broken, humbled, fifteen kilograms lighter, and with no summit. It was a lesson in passion, the first ingredient to living ones dreams. In the first part of the presentation, Alex talks about the importance of passion as being the first ingredient for team success.

PLANNING
In the years following the 1996 attempt, Alex continued to climb the seven summits, the highest mountains on all seven continents. Everest however, still eluded him. Looking back to the 96 expedition, Alex realized that his team had done very little planning or preparation and had relied mostly on passion. Passion is important, but on a mountain like Everest, it is not enough. This time they went to the south side of the mountain in 2003, and made sure they had the most experienced high altitude team ever to come out of South Africa. In addition, they had ample supplies of oxygen and a strong team of climbing sherpas. However, in a twist of fate, they still did not summit. Caught high up the mountain in a storm in the middle of the night, they were forced to retreat and fight for their lives. They survived to return home but they were heartbroken. Still no summit.

Alex talks about the fundamental need to combine detailed planning and preparation with passion. From 160 bottles of oxygen to 800 kilograms of food, the logistics of an Everest expedition are enormous. Unfortunately in life, sometimes things go wrong and we experience an outcome we did not anticipate. This now is a crucial point in our road to success. Do we give up, or do we somehow figure out a way to go back.

PURPOSE
As a mountaineer, it is a tough thing to fail twice on Everest. The journey of picking oneself up again, for the third time, is not an easy one. But it is essential. If we are to find out our purpose and live our dreams, then this is exactly what we must do. Two years after the 2003 expedition, Alex was invited by Sibusiso Vilane to return to the north side of Everest. After 170 days on Mount Everest, over nine years and three expeditions, Alex finally stood on the summit. On June 3rd 2005, at 6.15 in the morning Alex climbed the last few steps to the top of the world and completed his dream of climbing the seven summits.

Alex takes you through this emotional climax step by step, describing how he managed to go back to Everest for a third time. It is Alex’s belief, that when we combine passion with detailed planning and preparation, it is then that we begin to discover our purpose!

“I spent one hour and fifteen minutes on the summit of Mount Everest. It was calm and clear and the sun had just finished rising. It was simply, one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. But I saw something more startling, and, in its own way, equally beautiful. It was a view inside. Just a glimpse, of the things we can do with our lives, the places we can go and the people we can become. If only we believe. This is a view each of us needs to see.”


FORMAL INTRODUCTION TO ALEX HARRIS

Alex Harris has been climbing mountains for two decades and has led more than 20 expeditions to some of the furthest corners of the planet. In 1996, Alex resigned from a career in sales and followed his passion for exploration. Within the year he became the youngest person to lead an expedition to Mount Everest. He has climbed the seven summits, the highest mountains on all seven continents, and has led expeditions to both the north and the south side of Everest. He is also a multiple South African Track cycling champion and in 2006 won a silver medal at the World Maters Track cycling champs.

On the 17th of January this year, Alex became the first South African to walk unsupported to the South Pole, a journey that took 65 days and covered almost 1200km. Alex still has all his toes! Just…
Ladies and gentleman, please welcome….Alex Harris…
PRESENTATIONS by Alex Harris

THE LONG WHITE NIGHT

On the 17th of January 2008, Alex Harris became the first South African to walk unsupported and unassisted to the South
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