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Chamber gets peek at the summit

By Mike Lawrence
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Filled with more than 200 people, the room was so quiet the clicking of a pen seemed to echo.

At a Longmont Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Friday, world-famous climber Jeff Evans held a crowd of local businesspeople spellbound as he talked about facing challenges, setting goals and taking risks.

These are things Evans knows a little about.

On May 25, 2001, Evans led Erik Weihenmayer — blind since age 13 — to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

“Erik and I figured out ways to communicate,” said Evans, 34. “The trick is to turn difficulties into opportunities.”

In a presentation titled “Creating a Vision to Stay on Top,” Evans related his climbing adventures to daily struggles in the business world.

“Standing at the bottom of Mount Everest can be overwhelming,” Evans said, “but every step up, every rung on the ladder is a small victory.”

The luncheon was part of the Chamber’s SEEDS series, a quarterly event focusing on themes of support, encouragement, education, development, and success.

“Our goal today is to provide you with what your business needs to grow and prosper,” said Karen Hicks, Chamber ambassador and emcee for the luncheon.

Evans provided in spades. Slides of the blind Weihenmayer climbing the steep, icy slopes — and standing on the summit of Everest with Evans — left a heavy impression on many of the attendees.

“It was excellent,” said Kory Hanson, a Longmont resident who works with Pinnacle Insurance. “If you think your daily problems are big ... this showed you how to make the most of limited resources.”

Evans spoke about overcoming defeat as well. Months before tackling Everest, he and Weihenmayer had to turn back — in the teeth of a nasty storm — below the summit of Mount Aconcagua in South America.

“Our society expects complete success,” Evans said. “But without failure, we would be complacent and content.”

The luncheon, open to the public in addition to Chamber members, gave businesspeople a chance to network and socialize.

This chance was relished by Kim Nesnadny, owner of Jump for Joy Therapeutics in Longmont.

“Word of mouth is so important,” Nesnadny said. “Especially for something personal like massage.”

The next SEEDS Series Luncheon will be in May, Chamber Director of Programs Jen Wertz said.

Information on Evans, who said he is “available to speak and fire people up,” can be found at www.mountain-vision.com.

Mike Lawrence can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 218, or by e-mail at mlawrence @times-call.com.