RoadTrip Nation Report

Life’s Too Short

After punching in my interests into the Road trip nation website, I scrolled through all the options not finding any that were catching my attention. I wasn’t connecting with any of the interviews or the careers in which they were talking about, until I clicked on Pat O’Donnell. Pat O’Donnell is the CEO of Aspen Skiing Company in Colorado, which is somewhere I have never been. I didn’t have high hopes in getting inspired during his interviews, since I haven’t experienced his company first hand and I snowboard instead of ski. Despite our interest differences, Mr O’Donnell’s morals, values and career development based on his happiness correlates with where my head is at mentally and I feel like I learned alot watching this interview. 

Pat O’Donnell’s interview starts off with him going into college with his fathers pick of his major, engineering, and he absolutely hated it. His father threatened no family support if he did otherwise, so he chose to stick with it. At this part he was twenty seven and not happy with where he was at in his life, but he had this growing passion for rock climbing and most recently climbed Mount El Capitan in Yosemite. He decided to drop everything and planned to work in Yosemite for the summer, working 90 cents an hour as a bellman, receiving free meals, living in a tent, and working 7am to 3pm with time to climb till dark afterwards. What he thought was only going to be a summer turned into six years.

After a while he decided he had to get out of there, it was great and all but he wanted to do more, so he got a job working as VP general manager of building Kirkwood ski at Lake Tahoe. While it was still mostly wilderness, Pat was putting up chairlifts and building lodges till the word got out in the 70’s about the lodge being bought by the colorado company Ralston Purina Company. Relocating to Colorado, he became the Chief operating officer of all ski operations for ten years, which gave him the freedom to continue his passion for rock climbing which steadily had grown to Himalyan climbing. In 1980, he and a team of 8 climbed Annapurna peak (8th tallest mountain in the world) and was up there for 2 and a half months. On the last day, the north face let loose, killing 3 of his best friends. This was a turning point for Pat, going home to his loved ones and his friends loved ones having to explain what happened, feeling that guilt thinking “Why was I spared”. For ten years he kept that up, he wanted to escape, he wanted to get off earth. So he bought a sailboat and went on a voyage for a year, heading to Costa Rica. 

At this point in the interview, the guys asking the questions were speechless. The way Pat was telling his life story seemed like it seemed so easy and one of them asked “How?”“It’s easy now but at that time I was petrified” he told them. He always wanted to know if what he was doing was the right thing to do, he wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel wanting to know the outcome, a security blanket. He realized the way to success is to go without it, trust it will all work out, “if it’s not working for you, move ”, and he found this out living in yosemite. The reason he moved there was to fold his values and passions into his daily life, and Yosemite helped him find the real happiness in his heart and helped him make every decision he has made since. 

Hearing Pat O’Donnells story really made me think about my own, and made me more aware of my own obstacles and mental security blankets. Money doesn’t matter and I don’t want to grow up and think about what if’s, I should just start doing what I love and be content with where I am at. Pat is right, “Life is too short.”

Sources: Nation, RoadTrip, director. Pat O’Donnell. RoadTrip Nation, 2021, 

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