Like many CEO’s before him, Victor Gane knows first-hand the challenges of running a successful business. He also understands what drives him both personally and professionally, and realizes that sometimes, in order to achieve more, he has to step out of his comfort zone and do something that challenges him in an entirely new way. For Victor, that challenge comes in the shape of mountain climbing and his most recent achievement was found at the pinnacle of Mount Rainier. Ascending to 14,410ft above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the USA. As part of an on-going series covering the aesthetic industry’s most interesting people, Aesthetic Insider™ News talked with Victor Gane about this terrific adventure, as well as what’s next.
How long did it take for you to train for such a risky expedition?
Together with two of my friends I attended the Mount Rainier 6-day expedition seminar organized by RMI – a well-known company specializing in glacial expeditions at various sites around the world. RMI provides a wealth of information on their website that helped me prepare from multiple aspects, including the recommended training. I trained for 3 months before the expedition, primarily in the Californian Sierras, which has many challenging mountains. For example, 2 weeks before flying to Seattle we climbed the White Mountain with an elevation of 14,252ft. that is similar to Mt. Rainier’s 14,409ft. A few weeks earlier, we climbed Mt. Lyell – the tallest in Yosemite National Park at 13,120ft. Besides developing mental and physical endurance, the training helped us acclimatize to high altitudes, which can be physically prohibitive to some aspiring climbers.
Have you accomplished other similar outdoor expeditions?
A few years ago I did a week-long backpacking trip to Denali National Park in Alaska. This was a different experience. Instead of being a glacial climb, I hiked in the wilderness carrying a 60lb backpack, going through extremely difficult terrain (brush, tundra, swamps) with no trails, facing swarms of mosquitos and even grizzly bears, crossing glacial rivers and having the tent destroyed in the night by high altitude winds and heavy rain. I viewed this as another test of endurance and understood that I can do more challenging events. I am also a certified diver and have experienced some impressive diving sites around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef.
Why? How did you get started?
To me, the best way to understand what or who you are as an individual is to expose yourself to new experiences. I very much enjoy nature related activities which is what prompted me to first try, and now appreciate, mountain climbing. Given that my time is limited and to enjoy an activity you have to be good at it, I chose to focus only on a few activities, mountain climbing being the newest one.
What other important factors did you need to prepare in advance?
Of course physical training and endurance is important, however, self-preparation and self-preservation is vital in this type of undertaking. You have to carefully calculate the food you’ll need to successfully complete the climb. This requires an understanding of the daily calorie intake required in mountainous terrain and low oxygen conditions. I carry with me a good variety of food that includes freeze dried meals, which are light and relatively tasty (just pour hot water in the bag and the meal is ready), dried fruits, raw nuts, oatmeal, energy gels, packaged tuna, precooked quinoa or rice, energy bars, cheese, peanut butter. I also recommend having some extra food with you in case of emergency. You will also need equipment to melt water to fill either the water bladder you carry in your backpack or water bottles. In addition, knowing the right thermal clothing, emergency medical supplies, shelter and equipment is imperative as you have to be able to carry all of this with you on the journey.
How does this help you in business?
Climbing Mount Rainier, as well as other such activities, has helped me better understand my own limits and realize that I can push myself even further. This understanding is relevant for my daily activities from a business standpoint because it helps develop a mindset focused on achieving set goals no matter how challenging they are.
Are there any tactics used to complete this journey that can be applied to your overall success in business?
Using discipline, mental and physical resilience, and being a team player is key when climbing mountains. Without any of these, one will most likely fail. I would argue that these, among other qualities, are instrumental in my daily professional activities. They enable me to set objectives, mitigate challenges, and rely on internal strength to translate objectives into reality.
How much mountain climbing gear did you need on this expedition?
Glacial climbing requires a lot of specialized equipment and knowledge of how to correctly use and pack it. This is the reason why we decided to attend a seminar that helped us accelerate the learning of best practices on when and how to use specific equipment, how to tie the correct knots, how to do crevice rescue, how to breathe correctly at high altitudes, etc. For anyone interested in glacial climbing, the following equipment is required:
Gloves (light, medium, heavy)
Hard shell pants
Soft shell pants
Base layer pants
2 pairs of wool socks
Sun protection cap
Sleeping bag (I recommend researching the pros and cons of synthetic vs. down)
Water bottles and/or water bladder
Stove, collapsible plate, and utensils
Trash bags, toilet paper, waste bags (nothing can be left on the mountain)
Most of this equipment can be rented although I recommend buying your own if glacial climbing is something you plan to continue doing. The most critical gear is the boots. You need to ensure they are broken in and do not cause blisters – a certain way to ruin your trip.
Where did you sleep at nighttime?
The night before starting the expedition we stayed at a hotel at the base camp. Once we began to climb, we camped on ice in the tents we carried in our backpacks. Before the summit climb, we stayed for a few hours in the RMI cabin at Camp Muir (10,188 ft). We were glad, however, to stay in a nice hotel the night before flying back to San Francisco.
What’s next for Victor Gane?
I am excited for my upcoming backpacking trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. It abounds in glacial terrain and spectacular mountainous scenery. In the next few years I plan to climb Mt. McKinley in Alaska – the tallest in North America and much more challenging than Mt. Rainier. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll decide I am ready to climb Mt. Everest as well.
Victor Gane, Ph.D., is the Founder and CEO of AestheticLink, a web based integrated aesthetic practice software solution company located in Silicon Valley, CA. AestheticLink is changing how patients and aesthetic surgeons interact pre- and post-surgery. It is also helping doctors develop better, longer lasting relationships with patients. To learn more visit: www.aestheticlink.com.