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Alan Arnette | Extreme Leadership Series

Embracing the Climb: Lessons in Leadership and Resilience with Alan Arnette


In this episode of the Extreme Leadership Series, host Scott Kress interviews esteemed mountaineer Alan Arnette, who shares his profound experiences climbing Mount Everest and other formidable 8,000-meter peaks. Arnette delves into the critical themes of resilience, teamwork, and leadership in mountaineering, illustrating how these principles extend to broader life and business contexts.

Watch the Interview

Timeline with Timestamps

  • 00:05 – Introduction: Scott Kress introduces Alan Arnette and his extensive background in mountaineering.
  • 00:45 – Alan’s background and passion for mountaineering: Alan shares how he transitioned from a career in electrical engineering to climbing.
  • 03:33 – Transition from engineering career to full-time climbing: Alan recounts his early climbs and the moment he fell in love with mountaineering.
  • 05:31 – Alan’s website and Everest chronicling: Alan discusses how he became a leading expert on Everest through his website.
  • 07:37 – Importance of a strong sense of purpose: Alan emphasizes the need for climbers to have a deep, personal “why.”
  • 10:19 – Critical characteristics of an Everest climber: Discussion on key traits such as curiosity, humility, and teamwork.
  • 12:33 – Traits of a great expedition leader: Alan highlights the importance of communication and creating a supportive environment.
  • 17:32 – Defining a high-performance team in adventure settings: Alan talks about the qualities that make up a high-performing mountaineering team.
  • 23:23 – Lack of focus on team building in modern expeditions: Alan shares his concerns about the decreasing emphasis on team building in current expeditions.
  • 29:56 – Impact of poor leadership on Everest fatalities: Analysis of preventable deaths on Everest due to leadership failures.
  • 34:24 – Navigating change in extreme environments: Alan offers insights on how leaders should handle dramatic changes and communicate with their teams.
  • 37:26 – Historical example of change on Everest: Alan recounts the 2014 Everest tragedy and its impact on climbing policies.
  • 44:12 – Importance of resilience on 8,000-meter expeditions: Alan discusses why resilience is crucial for climbers facing extreme challenges.
  • 48:03 – Final advice for leaders and climbers: Alan provides concluding thoughts on achieving success and building high-performance teams.

Notable Quotes

  • “When windows open up in your life, you have an obligation to jump through that window and let life take you wherever life takes you.”
  • “Your why is important because I promise you, you’ll hit the wall when you try to do something difficult. Knowing your why helps you get through it.”
  • “Failure is when you try something hard, you don’t accomplish it, and you don’t learn from it.”


Alan Arnette’s insights into mountaineering and leadership underscore the essential qualities of purpose, resilience, and trust. Whether climbing Everest or leading a business team, these principles foster environments where individuals can thrive and achieve extraordinary goals. Embracing challenges and learning from setbacks are vital steps in personal and professional growth.

Interested in Creating Your Own Extreme Leadership Team?

Scott offers a series of Keynote presentations and workshops on team building. Here’s a quick video of Scott in action! Contact us to explore this further.

About The Extreme Leadership Series

The Extreme Leadership Series is a dynamic exploration of leadership through the lens of extraordinary situations. Hosted by Scott Kress, it features a mix of engaging podcasts and insightful written interviews with leaders who have thrived in some of the world’s most demanding environments. From the icy wilderness of polar regions to the towering summits of the highest mountains, guests share their stories of resilience, teamwork, and courage.

This series goes beyond mere adventure tales; it delves into the core principles of effective leadership such as preparation, adaptability, and the ability to cultivate high-performance teams. It offers valuable lessons for leaders in any field, aiming to educate, inspire, and equip listeners and readers with the tools to lead under pressure.

Whether you’re an emerging leader seeking motivation, an experienced executive aiming to enhance your skills, or simply intrigued by the intersection of leadership and extreme challenges, the Extreme Leadership Series provides a unique perspective on navigating adversity and achieving success. Join Scott Kress on this journey to uncover what it takes to lead in the most unforgiving circumstances, where every decision can make a difference.

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