Though he’s been to the ‘roof of the world,’ Beck Weathers admits he doesn’t know much about roofs in general — and has consciously stayed away from them due to an overdeveloped fear of heights.
IRE Keynote Address
Not exactly what one might expect to hear from a world-class mountain climber.
“One of the things that got me into climbing was having to come to grips with that particular fear,” he recently told RC OnSite. “Ironically, the very thing that kept me off actual roofs drove me onto the summits of mountains around the world.”
And that drive nearly killed him. Weathers is perhaps the best-known survivor from the ill-fated expedition to Mt. Everest in the spring of 1996 that claimed the lives of eight colleagues.
During the keynote address at the 2016 International Roofing Expo (IRE), he’ll share his remarkable story of defying severe frostbite and certain death to climb down the world’s tallest mountain. The keynote address is sponsored by Malarkey Roofing Products.
Captured in his own book “Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest,” and recently depicted in the blockbuster film “Everest,” Weathers’ story may be familiar to many IRE attendees. But he said that they might be surprised to discover how the lessons he learned on the mountain — and afterward — may help them become better communicators, better business owners, and better people.
“I don’t think any of us truly understand just how tough we really are until we’re placed in a situation that forces us to draw upon those strengths,” said Weathers, a pathologist from Dallas. “One of the things that I think makes the story interesting is that I’m very much an ordinary individual, and I managed to survive an event that was not survivable. And I think that kind of strength is present in all of us if we will believe in it and reach out and embrace it.”
Weathers not only embraced that spirit of survival to get off the mountain, he adopted it as a way of life going forward. Despite losing parts of both feet, most of his right arm, much of his left hand and his original nose, he returned to his profession and started a second career as a motivational speaker in the two decades since the disaster.
He said it took about a year to get over the physical pain associated with the injuries he endured, but that the mental struggle to over-come his new reality was much harder and more intense.
“It can be devastating to realize you’ve lost certain parts and functions,” he said. “But that just means you have to explore the vast other parts of existence that maybe you wouldn’t have gone out and looked at as closely if you’d remained intact.
“Physical injuries and physical pain are just something you get through. You have to gain acceptance of your altered self, but the hard part is the mental effort it takes to achieve a sense of peace and comfort within your own skin.”
Though much of his presentation deals with the adventure of climbing Mt. Everest and his improbable journey to get off of it, Weathers urged IRE attendees not to miss the final five minutes. That’s where he says he typically discusses what he believes to be the most important aspects of what he has to offer.
“If you can’t learn something from dying, then you’re truly a slow learner,” he said. “I’ll share what I learned and perhaps I’ll be able to impart a sense of perspective about life and survival that they might otherwise not have had.”
Weathers’ keynote presentation is sponsored by Malarkey Roofing Products (Booth 1537) and is included free with all registration packages. Advanced registration is required for this one-of-a-kind educational and motivational opportunity. For more information, visit www.theroofingexpo.com.