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Vivian James Rigney (coach)

On today’s Podcast, we have Vivian James Rigney a coach and Mountaineer. As a mountaineer, Vivian has successfully climbed the highest peaks on all seven Continents – most recently Asia’s Mount Everest. This had been a particularly challenging, humbling and rewarding journey for Vivian.

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On the podcast today, Vivian shares his story, Everest, his seventh and final peak, almost broke him. There, he and his team confronted wild storms lasting for days, near-vertical walls of ice, and a knife-edge ridge with fatal drops on either side. They endured avalanches, sub-zero temperatures, and tragedy unfolding around them. The roller coaster of pain, self-reflection, questioning, and above all, loneliness left Rigney with ego in tatters. It was then he discovered an awakening of what real purpose and legacy actually is.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Vivian James Rigney

[00:00:00] Vivian James Rigney: We must go. We stay, we die. We must go. And I looked at him and I said, I can’t do it. And he pulled me tighter. I remember seeing this amazing, fantastic weather, beaten Sherpa, face strength, resolute, strengthen his eyes. And he said, follow me. My next guest is a Mountaineer author who has completed the seven.

He has recently come out with a book called naked at the nice edge, his harrowing story about climbing Mount Everest, and today on the podcast. I am delighted to introduce Vivian James Rockne to the podcast. Thank you. Great to be here. Well, it’s an absolute pleasure. I’m delighted to have you on sort of talk about what one, your experience.

You did quite a number of years ago on Everest. And we’ll get into that shortly. But at the beginning of all of these podcasts, I [00:01:00] always like to start at the beginning. And how you sort of got into this sort of adventurous life, how your climbing sort of took off. Yeah. My first memory about getting interested in the world was sitting in front of the TV.

I think about four years of age watching. David Attenborough. I just watching programs about the world and travelling here was this guy who was travelling around the world, you know, sitting with gorillas one minute. And then he was, you know, in Australia the next and the whole world that went around that.

And I remember just being wildly interested in nature animals, just the environment and the outdoors. And that was at a S at a very, very young age. And it just expanded from there at Ireland, originally from Dublin Ireland, as you probably pick up from the accent it’s an island off the west coast of Europe and it is everyone looks kind of dressed of the world.

So everyone was looking to travel with people, the family, all over the world. So there’s this innate [00:02:00] interest in what’s going on elsewhere. And I guess that, that also countries. Nice because your, what is fascinating is you completed the seven summits, which is a very rare thing. I mean, we’ve had a few people on from Julie Stewart to Lucy rivers Buckley on the podcast who have both done it and probably on the podcast, listeners think this is sort of a very normal thing, but.

The preparation, the detail that goes into it and the experience you have to have two completely. This undertaking is absolutely huge. Where did the idea first? So to Kilimanjaro first it was 26 and when I was in Kilimanjaro, I heard people talk about the seven summits and killed majora was just amazing for the first time ever experienced.

Because the majority are climbing it, you know, a massive [00:03:00] volcanoes. So there’s nothing technical about us until you get to 4,000 meters and then you realize, why am I, why is my brain? Why my brain or my brain and my lungs are not connecting my brain. And my body is not connecting. My brain is saying, just walk you’re strong.

And your body’s saying, I can’t walk. I don’t have oxygen. So just going through that whole feeling and hearing by the seven summits in the different continents and this wild adventure that, that existed at. And the next mountain I did, I went to business school. The max amount I did was, was more blocking.

How about the summit of our blank row hugging each other and a set of the guide. Fantastic. Or at the highest mountain in Europe. And this French guy looked around and said to me, I got a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He’s a character. He said the news, technically it is not. It is in Russia. And I said, what?

So off the top of my dog, after coming up to the Coonawarra and everything, I was thinking a course, correction. This is not the highest near [00:04:00] up. So I came out of the mountain humbled and just started to really do research on the seven summits before then. It was just, you know, I’ll just do one at a time and I didn’t take it that seriously.

And of course, you just start. I was working and I was studying and I was doing that. So I couldn’t do one every year, but I could do one every couple of years. And I started to really focus on it and do one at a time. And so guess what I did Elbrus next in Russia. And then after that, I came to September.

To do Aconcagua. And that was a spectacular failure. So it was three weeks on the mountain. We got up to high camp, we had the summit in sight and there was this massive wind storm. Few of our tents were destroyed. We lost some food and the guide made a decision. We’re going down the mountain and it was incredibly yeah, disappointing three weeks of efforts flying halfway across the world.

And that was a [00:05:00] massive learning. And it was, there was a, a humidity that went with that. Also things you can control and things you can’t control. And thereafter, I went to Carson’s pyramid in Indonesia. That was about rock climbing. That was very difficult to get to. We were very lucky to get up. It’s hard to get to that mountain because he ASCO was the typical seven summit people do.

But, but you know, that’s only 2,600 meters. Carson’s pyramid is 5,000 meters and that’s serious stuff. So, and then I ended up going to Antarctica, which was a mesmerizing spectacular, changed my life, going down there. And then after we went to Denali and North America, which was very cold, very technical, all of a sudden, many areas.

Whether it was bad. We were there three weeks, three and a half weeks, almost four weeks. And that, I always said I’d never do stuff. I’d never do libraries. That was for the big boys that was for serious. But like an itch, you can’t scratch. And you know, people start saying to you, you [00:06:00] know, when you’re doing Everest and Irish people say, well done, congratulations.

I heard you’re dead after a few pints. And you know, you’re just going to look, is it me or the mountain? And the question was, it’s probably me. I’ve done some mountains. I’ve, you know, I’ve learned a ton. And then I met somebody on a mountain who was organizing the exhibition to Everest, and I asked him, you know, a thousand questions and every answer was.

It was a humble answer. It was raw answers, real answer. There was no messing around and I absorbed and I felt excitement coming within me with each answer I heard and it was going to be a small team is going to be a dynamic team, small team hand shows and. And I’m not people with big egos, people who were put the effort in who were humble, but who were very focused and who weren’t too fond of themselves.

And it felt the values associated with putting that team together, [00:07:00] felt like a good fit for me. And I signed up and that was 18 months before I did it. I didn’t look at a video forever. I didn’t want to read naked. I didn’t want to read into thin air. I didn’t want to know anything about it because I had a huge fear of Heights.

And that had always been the case. And I think we’re born with that. I think it’s, we can, we can, you know, tape it down and kind of getting over it on the mountain. But it comes back and so yeah, so that was it. That was 18 months. And then then I, I arrived in the pal and that was, that was the beginning.

I thought, I think everyone has an innate fear or. Being scared of Heights, the idea of, you know, looking down, I didn’t know anyone we had Tim Howe on last time and or the last episode and here he’s a base jumper and the idea is sort of so unnatural to look over a cliff and just [00:08:00] throw yourself off or even look down.

And I think for a lot of people, it’s exactly the same was the idea within Everest. Because you had done seven summits, so surely in your mind it was sort of. Wasn’t it after sort of concrete seven, you must have seen Everest and being like this is the four or six, six heiress was the last one. I guess Everest has a reputation of just being extreme.

And obviously the death rate is, is way higher than any of the others. And I was always aware of I’m two months away. And I guess my own insecurities was, I was a strong enough, you know, how would I, how would I cope under that pressure? All, all of those things and the Heights, they, I mean the ladders, you look at those, some of those early many ladders go across Calabasas, crevasses.

I mean, it’s obvious stuff. And and every year it’s different. And you know, it’s this living glacier and there a combo with the Khumbu valley, it’s, it’s [00:09:00] spectacular. So that was definitely in my mind. And until I met this person and he, he answered all my questions and I, it wasn’t an aha moment. And I said, it’s me.

It’s not the mountain. And And then I arrived in Nepal. It’s funny thing. I ended up reading into thin air the week before I submit it. I thought it was wise to read it in case there was any learning I could pick off along the way of things not to do during our summers ascent. So finally, I read the book because it was on the table and the, in the, in the main tent.

So it was too late at that point. Of course, there was no going back. I was in. And in. And what you sort of talk about is the idea, do you feel like a lot of times when people go, was there a lot of, you’re talking about picking your team and moving away from the sort of big egos that were sort of, you know, would do it for themselves?

Where was that very important? Did you get [00:10:00] sort of the idea or not the idea, but the sort of concept of picking your own team in order to make sure that your success rate was high and that everyone was going to look out for each. Yeah, good question. I pick the company that was going to climb with. It was a company who had climbed with, I’d been with them and Denali.

I’d been with them and Carson’s pyramid. I’ve been with them in Antarctica. I knew the owner of COF a co-founder of the company, and I knew his value system really charity. And when I stopped, when I sat with this, this, this guy. Who he was hiring to run the ex the Everest expedition asked all these questions.

I knew the founder had told me, this is the type of team we will. We will bring on board. You know, we, we do not choose people with big egos. We choose people who are going to be safe. People are going to work well together. People who we’re going to work well together as guides, and it’s going to be small and it’s going to be.

And we expect high standards and we will ensure this level of people [00:11:00] coming on board. So we just felt they were doing all that homework for me. When I got to Katmandu, I hadn’t met many of them people before. Two of them I did but the other five, I didn’t. So that was it was a bit of a leap of faith, but again, his value system and the experience that I had before were really clear, and we were a small expedition.

There were other expeditions where maybe 10, 20, 30 people. More like a machine and, you know, great logistics, great coordination, all that, but you can just imagine you’re part of something bigger and there’s just inherently more, more, you know, more risk of people having different values and different ways of looking at what this represents and, and you get under a pressure zone, stressful circumstances.

Those things tend to come out. So I was very happy to be able to small, tighter, tighter team. And they will all very experienced climbers. All, I think there were three, three out of the group, in addition to me where this was her seventh summit. [00:12:00] So you can see that they were, and then yeah, the rest were again, had done different lines around the world.

So all international, mostly American and American, Irish, Polish. Yeah. That was it. What do you think attracts people to. What do you think really sort of gets them going back again and again, I guess it was partly the reason, the only reason my own reason for doing the seven summits. I mean, on the one hand it was seeing the world and that’s a very it’s a very comfortable answer.

Isn’t it? You go around and see the world and see beautiful places, but there’s also an ambition in there to achieve and to prove oneself. And some people go to the extent of talking about conquering, Everest switches. Pretty funny. When you think about conquer, have you conquered anything, conquering yourself as a big enough average?

I think in life, but so this, so I think that ambition was something which is driving me under the [00:13:00] surface. And I think that impacted me on the mountain insignificant ways. So it’s covered in the book in terms of my personal journey. Which was quite profound. And I came, I went up the mountain one, man, and I came down the mountain, a very different person.

So Everest was not just a combination of the seventh of the seven summits. It was almost like a, not be cliche about it, but kind of a rebirth of me an RN. And we say copping onto yourself. And just being crystal clear about who I was and who I wasn’t and having those things being in, in, in balance probably for the first time in my life.

That was, that was the big takeaway. So it was not like an epiphany or whatnot. It was when you say you came down well, who was the person that went up and he was the person that came [00:14:00] down? Yeah. So the person who went up was somebody who was super fit, very focused trained, well conscientious And I was fit on a new, I was fit and had a good head and I could just get my head down and work it.

And on every day, you know, you know, whenever there’s three rotations rotation, one is from bay. First of all, you got to get from the, from the airport to base campus. About 10 days to climatize, they didn’t go from base camp up to camp, one to come to then all the way back to base camp for a contestation and moving supplies.

Then you go all the way camp one, come to come through. All the way back down to base camp then, but down the valley to recoup and re rebuild your energy cause your, your muscle mass masses disappeared at that point. That’s about five or six weeks in. And then the third rotation is a find a one come back to base camp.

Everyone opens their laptops. They were looking at satellite weather cause you know, whatever, it’s just probably a seven [00:15:00] day window of summiting. The, you know, it’s really short and everyone was trying to judge us. And then off, we go up to the summit, the summit, our summit bid, as it were, and that’s about six days up and down.

And I’d be doing really well on the rotation. Rotational on rotation too. I was, I was quick, I was fit. I was in good shape. And then the third rotation I did well up to come three, come four. There was having problems with oxygen. I wasn’t sleeping that much on a, started to deteriorate. But the head was strong.

The body was weak. The head was strong, but nobody else was feeling great as well. So it wasn’t as if I was the only one feeling tired or but at some point on the mountain, we come up to the south summit. So you’re climbing, climbing up through the balcony all through higher and higher and higher go to the south summit.

And in front of you does this Vista of a Hillary step. [00:16:00] And as it is. Profound fear when you look at that thing, because it is like climbing a wall and you see these people like ants climbing up and before you get to Hilary step, there is a 50 meter knife edge. 2000 meters into Tibet and about 1800 meters down to come to where I came from.

So either way it’s expressed through, down to, you know, your afterlife. So you have to, you look across this and I got to this point and the moment I saw this Vista I just, I just went into not panic, but I just looked and I said I’m feeling bad. I’m not feeling good. I looked over our head guide was leaning against a rock and he was vomiting.

He started he’d submitted four times before and he said, I feel terrible. I don’t think I can do it this year. I looked over other guide and he was, his mouth was wide open. He was white. He was [00:17:00] checking on me, Vivian, are you okay? And his eyes were popping out of his head and I just looked and I just, the whole I felt incredibly exposed.

And we weren’t even through the knife edge, not Petteri step. We were at that last point. And I went to a very dark place and I just felt I’ve no energy, my oxygen, I, I, I was started to breathe, but there was no oxygen in my lungs. And I thought came into my mind of I’m going to be stuck here.

And this is where I’ll, this is where I’ll arrest. And we were kind of dark places. So I remember this dark cloud coming over my head of metaphorically and this voice inside me. And I was, I was emotional because I felt, I felt as if this is it. This is not a way I want to go. And I close my eyes.

I remember my tears were frozen [00:18:00] immediately because it was incredibly cold. And then I remember hearing this voice inside my mind and the voice basically said, why are you here? Why are you here? And it kept coming. I’d never heard this voice before deep inside me. And I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know why I’m here on the next thing the voice said was why are you always trying to prove how good you are, has smart.

You are talented. You are how hard you work. I didn’t have an answer to those questions. So here I am, you know, almost the top of Everest having this discussion myself. It’s not what you imagine you’re going to be doing on Everest. On top of that, you’re feeding that I’m going to lean against this rock and it’ll be here for the next hundred years and people will be tapping my helmet as they pass me for future expeditions.

And it was just a. Basically just wanted to [00:19:00] get away from this place. So I closed my eyes were closed and I just started to think of something else. And I started to, I had a thought in my mind, the moment I had that thought in my mind, everything went away. The volume went down and I started to breathe again.

And then I got a tap on my shoulder from the sharp, my sharper, and I opened my eyes and I had to rub them. Cause they were all from. And he pulled my face next to his and he said, we must go. We stay, we die. We must go. And I looked at him and I said, I can’t do it. And he pulled me tighter. I remember seeing this amazing, fantastic weather, beaten Sherpa, face strength, resolute, strengthen his eyes.

And he said, follow.

And I surrendered [00:20:00] and I followed him and he, he was taking one step at a time. He said, follow one step. And I followed one step one, step one step. I came to halfway up that every step I have no recollection of the knife edge, no recollection of getting onto Hillary step. And I remember coming to, because his boots, he has crampons or sliding down the road.

And I was trying to put my boot just exactly. I was so focused on, on where his boots were. Nothing else mattered. I came to I’m thinking Christ he’s taken me up. I thought he was going to take me down. And at that point I’m halfway up the step and I just kept focusing on his boots. His boots got up to the top, swung around a rock where there’s basically a whole view of air.

And got to the summit slowly, got to the summit and people were excited. The summit on Augusta summit. I said, why am I here [00:21:00] now? It did say, it’s a nice view. I’m at a top of the world is not nice. There is nothing on above me. Why am I here? And that was my summit experience. And I came down the mountain and that processed all the way down and had some interesting experiences down the mountain as well.

But yeah, that’s a long answer to your question. What happened with the summit and that experience, but it was extremely personal. And the ego basically was of no use to me. The ego was the heaviest rock in my backpack. And until I let go of that ego I couldn’t move. And that was that release that vulnerability, which I never felt in my entire being Yeah, it was a powerful experience.

[00:22:00] I still powerful, just even talking about it today and that’s hard to believe many moons later. I think we’ve, we’ve discussed at length on this podcast about how, I mean, it’s that old cliche. It’s the journey, not the destination. And as you say, most times when people. Get to where they’re visualized, whether it’s, you know, finishing a massive race across the world, or whether it’s summiting Everest, when they get it’s.

Usually it’s been the whole journey, you know, years of preparation and everything put into it. And it’s somewhat of mostly an anticlimax. You know, and, you know, we’ve had people on left right. And center on this podcast and they all talk the same about the finishing line was just this feeling of not emptiness, but of something they want [00:23:00] imagining, which is sort of what you had.

Yeah. It’s a connection with yourself. An older projection of I’m really fit and really competitive. It’s going to be a great feeling. And I grew the flag and it’s all nonsense. It’s a connection with yourself and that compassion for yourself and the humidity in your naked as it were. And it’s so unusual.

And it’s so pure and so honest that you just want to bottle it up and hold. Yeah, it’s profound. I think people who go through, you know, near-death experiences, whether it be a car accident or something dramatic, you’ll hear similar stories of time slows down and they go inside and they go to a place and it’s yeah, it’s fascinating.

It’s a reset. The idea is to kind of hang on to [00:24:00] it though, right. Because the busy-ness is waiting. The question is, how do you hang on to that? If that’s the truth? You know, we’d rather have truth. Thank you very much as opposed to distraction and everything else. So none of the sweet spot is to, is to hold on to that and nurture it.

Cause it needs nurturing. Nobody comes down and they’re like just, you know, levitating, happy on air. And you know, everything is all bells and sandals. That’s real world doesn’t work like that. So you have to work at it, but climbing a mountain, you have to come down the mountain, you have to work at coming down and.

At a work and incorporating that into oneself, to work at being compassionate with yourself, and then being able to be compassionate with others. There’s no free pass on that, but if you feel it than it exists, if it exists, it’s you, if it’s you. That’s the truth and that’s you own the deeds of that.

Nobody else owns those deeds. We tend to forget about this and society [00:25:00] right now with so much distraction and social media, and there’s all this, that, and the other and all these experiences. But are we really connecting with ourselves? Are we listening to ourselves? Maybe it’s not as easy as you know, take, talk about make, make a belief fun experiences, but you know, with depth, is there depth, did you find coming down the mountain, both physically and let’s say mentally with yourself as challenging as going through.

In a sense, you were at the top and you had these tools and you know, most people think when you’re at the top, you are there going well, I’m on top of the world that wasn’t for you. And then when you were coming down, the mountain was, did realization of what you had done and what your thoughts were and like processing those thoughts [00:26:00] coming down the summit.

Was it and putting them all together. Was that just as a challenge is getting to the top and realizing, yeah. Good question. Good question. Couple of things I’ll share when I, so we, we recently. And then we came down to the south Cole, just count four, which is high camp. At that point, after being at the summit, you basically have been, we’ve been climbing for 20 hours nonstop.

So you see south call us literally like, you know, church and Katie cost. It is, it is, you know, you visualizing Palm trees. Cause it just feels safe. Compared to what we’ve, what we’ve been through. And then we come spend one night there and then we come all the way down to come to. And then finally back to camp one after another night there.

So I was processing, I’ve got to south call. I slept five hours solid, no dreaming. My brain was so empty and I think my [00:27:00] unconscious mind was just, it had been exposed. But I slept the best five hours of sleep I’d had in two months. So that was, that was a win that I got come to and I want to call my family and, you know, I, I grew up my father, you know, father was a climber Mountaineer you know, in the Alps and then Kilimanjaro, Montblanc and so forth.

So I guess it was something in the family. And it wouldn’t wouldn’t get us too many compliments, but he telling his story teller. He tell our friends who was very proud of us. Good. He always expected a high bar from us and it was always about, you know, you gotta be, you gotta work hard and you gotta prove yourself and all that good stuff.

So I called my folks. I knew they were worrying about me satellite. You know, the Irish ring, it’s a bit like the Irish used to be part of the UK. So we have the kind of the ring ring that very distinct ringing tone. And I’m [00:28:00] there, there’s a full moon. It’s freezing cold and I’m on the satellite phone.

And then I heard this voice and yeah, his voice and it was hello. I felt the warmth on the dad’s voice. And I cried and I cried. I just, it poured out to me for one minute. I don’t think I’d ever done that in my life. And after one minute it stopped like a thunderstorm, but not one minute. What I felt was a connection with my family.

With, you know, you know, the sacrifices my parents had made the fact that, you know, dad was tough on me, but, but, but, but wanted the best for me. And I felt that, and it was incredibly powerful. And then after one minute I call my wrists. [00:29:00] And I, we had a conversation and I said, how are you? And he told me, and he told me he was very.

And it was it was a big deal. And again, it was interesting. It was not at the top. It was about me and accepting myself and, and quite a heck of my having to prove, to prove, to prove. And I speak to my dad, you know, kind of halfway down and it’s about realizing what family is and what matters and what was always there.

But sometimes we just focus on the tough stuff or we focus on, you know, this sudden the other, but the core was there and the warmth and the love was there. The one word I felt when I spoke to him was love and there was a powerful word and And I go through the Khumbu Icefall and then I got to the bottom and I’ll tell you one more funny story.

Cause Irish people always tell you stories. I spoke to a family member and they said, oh, I spoke to [00:30:00] dad. And you know, he told me and I told my dad, it was really difficult. And I think to them, they got makers, you know, in that. And they said to me, listen, I heard from daddy, you said you almost didn’t make it.

You don’t need to worry about that. He got to the highest point on earth. That’s all you need to worry about. Don’t you worry, you just tell people you’ve got to. And I felt immediate anger about that. I felt anger. I felt frustration and I shopped back and I said, That’s so wrong. What you’re saying to me, what I went through and the toil and the questioning.

That is the story. That is the story of Everest. And I’m going to tell it to everyone that listens and the person that the person that you. It’s a different person. That is the story. And it was funny. It wasn’t, it, it was that for me, it was like the third piece that, that [00:31:00] completed things. And that was the piece that, that really resonated.

So that kind of put a full stop on. And it came to Mount congener mountain ban and that process for years, I kind of thought that, that, you know, that idea of, of what is vulnerability and what is being free of our egos and our personas and all of that. It’s a, it’s a massive release. Yeah, me down. It was just as hard as going up.

That’s the net of all of that. I think that’s so true. I, I, you know, before the pandemic was trapping all over the place and actually the one thing the pandemic has probably given me is that sense of just how important family is. You sort of run a, you know, you, I was traveling all over the world and actually when I got back.

I, I, there wasn’t any part of me that felt, you know, oh, I need to get out. I need [00:32:00] to go. It was actually just how important family is in, I don’t know, in life. And just that sort of circle around you. And also it’s sort of just not make, say I think it’s also, but you need to sort of find that before you can actually really appreciate it.

In a sense. Yeah. And of course, you know, in the world we have things can happen quickly and then somebody, somebody passes and then you don’t get a chance to have that moment. Right. Which is sometimes we don’t get to control those things. Right. But that healing of yourself is the minimum we must do right.

To here with others. It’s ideal. But at least to heal with yourself, that’s that’s powerful. No. I agree. And then, so after you had sort of, you know, come back down from Everest, [00:33:00] probably breathing a little bit better, right? Yeah. What was, and you sort of talked about legacy and this sort of importance of it.

What would you say that the legacy that you took from Everest back to. New York or to now Dublin, where you were living the idea of conquering as you put it, there’s an angle that I’ll tell you a story as part of that answer. So got back to Katmandu, doing a nice dinner. And I had a flight four days out and I said, I am not going to change my flight and go back to New York.

I’m going to take a little bit of me time. I’ve been with the same people for all those day weeks. It was time. I just wanted to literally go to a place, you know, be a hermit for a while. So I found this whole country club in Catlin, do the places kind of run down, but [00:34:00] it was like, I just wanted a hotel beside the jungle.

I hadn’t seen colors for two months. Think about that. I’d seen rock. And sky, that’s all I seen. So I just wanted something with vibrancy. So I went to this place as a, say, a little run down, but it was like almost like colonial type, beautiful, beautiful, old building. And I got on the golf course there and I’m reflecting on Everest and I hit my ball on the green and on the green, there’s a few monkeys there and one of the monkeys, that’s my ball.

I started laughing and I just started laughing and I couldn’t stop laughing. I was on my own and it was just the funniest thing ever, you know, and I just said, this is life. This is life. This is to be playful. This is to just be here as a monkey, grabbing my golf ball. Seeing my cell on Everest. And I’ve been through this wild experience for two months.

I’m traumatized from it and there’s a monkey monkey running off into [00:35:00] the, into the forest, my golf ball. It was just, you know, that idea of bringing that back to New York, the idea of being pressed. So the idea of understanding what being playful is of, of being curious and New York is wonderful because it’s like a melting pot, a bit like London is this massive melting pot of everybody there’s intensity about us, but there’s an intensity about every everything, but also people are from everywhere, but nobody really judges each other, a charismatic leader because everyone’s in it together.

And. I remember walking the streets of Manhattan for a car for a few weeks after I come back, I couldn’t take this inner smile off my face. It’s hard to people would respond to me. It’s quite interesting. People pick up on our visual. They pick up on where we are with ourselves and I was back to my job and I was kind of doing my thing.

And that’s something I’ve been reflecting on probably for, for the last few years, is that idea of just, you know, it all goes by so fast [00:36:00] with a COVID and the pandemic pressure points, stress points. You know, but at the end of the day where we are with ourselves and we create our happiness, yes. We meet people around us to make us happy.

Yes, we have experiences, but it comes from within. And so the monkey on the golf ball is still in my head many, many, many times and I probably the monkey and hopefully chasing a golf ball and. Not caring, certainly as much. And I haven’t done any tall mountains since the seven summits. So I took up scuba diving.

I’ve been traveling extensively 80 plus countries so far and before COVID of course. And I just really enjoying not having an agenda per se, like a wild agenda, an agenda of sorts, the framework, but nothing too must, must, must, must tick boxes. None of that. So. With the sort of monkeys. I must’ve just been like after a weeks of just complete seriousness to sort of [00:37:00] almost have a, it was almost like a joke, right?

In front of you that sort of lighthearted after eight weeks of just intense intensity. Right? I think life put monkeys on that. Green my golf fall and slapped me across the face a few times. And it immediately like being, being the lights went on like, and half a second. Like that’s why I laughed for like at least four or five minutes.

It was, it was wild. And I th I think it was just so interesting is you’ve got this book coming out naked at the knife’s edge, and you’ve had sort of 10 years to sort of really reflect on these stories to really sort of delve into them deeply and to get a more, a better understanding. A lot of the time people sort of think, oh, you can just sort of reel it off, but actually a lot of these big trips and expeditions.

They take time to really reflect [00:38:00] and to really understand yourself within it. Is that what you found? Correct. If I wrote the book a year or two, after it would have been more descriptive, and then we did this and then we did that and then this happened, it would have been the usual. I mean, there, I mean, most people write books on Everest, right.

Significant achievement. But the fact that I didn’t do that and at the time I was kicking myself and I was, you’re such a procrastinator, you know, Yeah, you and your big talk. But I think when COVID had everything just felt like I’ve got all the pieces of the on out, and it’s way larger than that little myopic view, that would’ve been the case because it takes time to process these things.

It takes time to process. It’s fascinating. You don’t get to control. You can work on yourself. You can, you know, help yourself with different things, more. Self-awareness all that good stuff. But time is a healer and with time wisdom also comes with [00:39:00] time. So it happened, it happened at the time of its choosing and and I went into the, onto the mountain again and writing the book.

It was fascinating. I was there and that’s not surprised me. Immensely. Well, Vivian, it’s been such a pleasure, sort of listening to the story. There’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest. First question might be a little different because you’ve sort of taken up scuba dive in rather than a mountain airy now, but what’s the one gadget that you always take with you on your trips and expeditions or adventures.

The gadget. That’s a good question. I don’t have a gadget of choice, a gadget of [00:40:00] my, probably my passport would be the one thing wherever I go. It’s like in my backpack, I go to work. I have my passport in the backpack. It just, it just reminds me of this. I’m a citizen of travel and it’s always there, even though I’m going to work, it’s in my bag.

And yeah, it never, it never leaves. It’s strange, but yeah, that’s, that’s my gadget. It’s less of a gadget, more of an anchor. Right. Okay. What about your favourite adventure or travel book? Shackleton south Ernest Shackleton’s trip across Antarctica. I mean, this is a story beyond, beyond beyond the human Capacity it’s exceptional and it’s as much a leadership story as anything else and how he motivates people to stay alive and to keep busy and organize themselves.

And the [00:41:00] beautiful powers of delegation, motivation, delegation, and respect. And this is 110 years ago. It’s way before its time. And he died at 51 years old. So it’s kind of, you know, it’s just amazing that he had all that, you know, in his twenties and thirties. Yeah. Yeah. It’s just, it’s a phenomenal a story, I think, you know, even so he’s, it’s actually, it’s funny because you always sort of talk about, as we’ve been sort of speaking the story, the best stories are the ones which have that sort of challenge, that adversity, they struggle.

A story of like, he went and taught the current, crossed it with no problem, the most boring story in the world, but the fact that he had all these challenges is sort of 200 years later is still one of the great stories. The great one of the great adventure stories of its time. Exactly. Why are adventures important to you?

[00:42:00] Curiosity learning being present. So I think adventure is just open your mind to like almost like an Aladdin’s cave of, of, yeah. Of unfamiliar things and experiences and people and people’s voices and languages and cultures and nature and color. And then all of us, it’s all there. It’s all there waiting.

What about your favorite quote? It’s not the mantle. But ourselves and that’s by Edmund Hillary.

And it’s funny because he, you know, he was a very introverted guy and, you know, very matter of fact, but I think that quote, it’s so deep and powerful. It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. And it says it all in. It’s such a perfectly concise way. No, very nice. And [00:43:00] people listening are always keen to travel and go on these.

Expeditions what’s the one thing you’d recommend for people wanting to get started? I think people who have experienced the last, a lockdown and everything the last two years, the world out there is exceptional. And we’re climate change and everything quite a bit of it is changing. So I would invite people to experience as much as you can.

Some of the things that are changing, that mightn’t be here in 20 years or 30 years, mountains or oceans or whatever it may be. But there’s a lot, there’s a lot of warrants out there. A lot of wants with people, a lot of warrants with just being present with yourself, listen to yourself. So whatever, if that’s going to another city is going to another country go to another continent.

It’s the same recipe. So very nice. Couldn’t have said it any better. And finally, what are you doing now and [00:44:00] how can people follow you and also about your new. So the new book is gonna release released on March the eighth. It’s going to be it’s going to be a hardback. It’s going to be on audible.com.

So there’ll be an audio version. So inherently dulcet tones reading through the experience. And it’ll be an ebook format of course, as well. From my side, I, as I said, I haven’t done mountains. I’m trying to get to some amazing national parks. So when doing that and doing a lot more skiing and scuba diving, I took that up.

But six years ago and getting under the water is just amazing. You’re just, it’s a whole new part of the world that I didn’t know much about before. It’s amazing. And I’m in my bed every night. No more camping, no more, no more at no more sleeping in a tent, which after Everest. And it goes pure to being cold in the tent of nights.

Happy to be in warmer climbs, perhaps. [00:45:00] Yeah, Emily said what’s the temperature in New York at the moment. So we were, we were minus, we were minus eight this morning Celsius. The Fahrenheit that’s about 20 degrees. So yeah, 18 degrees. I was 18 F I was Chile. And then just an Oregonian website.

So it was Vivian, James rigney.com. And yeah, that’s. That’s the book. And as a career, I do executive coaching. So work with senior leaders and senior exacts, and I help them to some of their own Everest be more emotionally intelligent along the way. So that would be the sweet spot of what I do on my day job.

Absolutely amazing we’re fifth year. And it’s been such a pleasure listening to your stories, and I cannot thank you enough for coming on to. Great. It’s been a pleasure and thanks for the great questions. And it’s great to, to share the journey with you, John. [00:46:00]

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