In terms of travel, Vivian James Rigney is not your typical tourist.
The corporate coach/speaker has been to more than 80 countries and has lived on three different continents.
He has also accomplished the “Seven Summits,” or the summits of the seven tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.
It took him 14 years, and he believes that less than a thousand others have ever accomplished the same thing.
And despite being “terrified of heights,” he did it nonetheless.
Rigney discussed his experiences and the financial toll of climbing some of the world’s tallest peaks in an interview with CNBC Travel.
Rigney claims to have made between $170,000 and $180,000 for his Seven Summits expeditions.
He climbed Everest in 2010 and commented, “By far, Everest is the most expensive.” He spent around $80,000.
You have to put money aside and make a strategy, he advised. “Which is why I spent so much time on it. First I got started, then I dropped everything to attend business school, where I promptly spent all my savings. Gradually, I was able to finish it off piece by piece.”
Rigney added, “But there’s another cost: the time away from work.” Fortunately, he had positive feedback from his superiors about his aspirations.
They can see [individual goals] as something which can assist improve the mood of the organisation if you have a good boss,” he remarked.
From “very simple” to “very painful”
Rigney noted that the Seven Summits also differ greatly in terms of climbing difficulties from one another and from one another’s prices.
Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is “simple,” he remarked, and “technically not tough at all.”
However, he cautioned that the altitude is high enough that some climbers get altitude sickness and turn back.
He claimed that Kilimanjaro could be ascended in a week. The Vinson Massif in Antarctica can be climbed in two weeks “if you’re lucky,” while Denali in North America requires three to four weeks.
On the other hand, he noted that climbing Everest requires a “huge logistical operation” and roughly two months. It’s the most perilous and challenging ascent, he said, describing it as “excruciatingly agonising.”
He told me, “It seems like every fibre of my being is screaming at me to get out of here.” As in, “Your gut instinct is completely off the rails.”
Rigney spent roughly four or five hours every day on Everest. At other times “It’s just you and your tent as you relax and get better… We had no access to technology or the internet.”
He came “bulked up and incredibly fit,” he remarked. According to him, he dropped 20 pounds while climbing Everest while eating 7,000 to 8,000 calories a day (mostly potatoes, spaghetti, and dry food).
He mentioned that keeping oneself warm required a lot of effort. He added that even the LCD panels on cameras froze.
“A “pee bag” is available for your convenience. Since your urine will be warm, you may just urinate in this bag, seal it, and bring it with you into your sleeping bag.”
Climbers can only reach the top of Everest for a few short days out of the year. Rigney has stated that if they achieve this goal, it will be a swift win.
People, he observed, “don’t spend hours around the peak.” The heck out of here as fast as you can, okay?
Going from being a climber to a coach
Now, Rigney uses the skills he gained from pushing himself to his mental and physical limits to coach and talk to CEOs in the business world.
He has also written a book called “Naked at the Knife’s Edge,” in which he describes how he turned the most terrifying experiences from his Everest ascent into career opportunities.
Rigney claimed that climbers rarely stayed at the summit of Mount Everest for very long. You should get off the mountain as soon as humanly possible.
He claimed to assist, “ambitious people who “have a lot on their minds” learn to relax and shed routines “that drag us along…” Like we’re riding a conveyor belt, it seems.”
He gave the example of overcoming his own fear of heights and public speaking through the use of mental exercises.
He also stressed the importance of leaders learning to accept events beyond their control, such as injuries or epidemics.
He recalled laughing all the way to the small aeroplane hangar in Kathmandu an hour before his flight to the Himalayan foothills.
Rigney claimed that after he completed his ascent of the “Seven Summits,” he would prefer to take trips with less of a chance of injury. Scuba diving, he continued, has been his go-to demanding and exciting pastime for the past few years.
“I approached this individual and asked him… It prompted me to inquire, “Hey… what time do you suppose we’ll be leaving?” “exclaimed Rigney. He remarked, “It might be as soon as today, probably by tomorrow, and definitely by the weekend.”
He added that ten minutes later, another climber got the same answer and lost it.
“Some time later, the red-faced man with steam coming out of his ears looks over, and we’ve all broken out into fits of laughter. This is it, this is your reality, I guess. The Himalayan climate is the subject here.”
There are many “things we can control and those we cannot,” as Rigney put it.