Leader Spotlight: Steven Anderson

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: Steven Anderson. He is a climb leader with the Kitsap Branch who led an expedition to Denali in 2019, and now has his sights on Kilimanjaro and Fuji!
Sara Ramsay Sara Ramsay
Volunteer Development Manager
January 29, 2020

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to Steven Anderson, a volunteer leader with the Kitsap Branch who encourages everyone to keep learning and refreshing their skills through teaching.

Name: Steven Anderson
Branch: Kitsap
Where do you live? Bremerton, WA
How long have you been a leader? 5 years (member since 2012)
What activities do you lead? Intermediate and Basic program and climbs

Leadership Questions

What inspired you to lead trips for The Mountaineers?

Respect of the leaders that trained me, reverence for the outdoors, and the chance to create exceptional and memorable outdoor experiences where everyone gets to push their boundaries and feels like part of the team.

What is the best, favorite, or most memorable trip you've led for The Mountaineers?

The best was South Early Winters Spire because communication was perfect. The rope leads were dialed into their climbers. My favorite is Observation Rock with very little snow - no pickets. My most memorable was Liberty Bell because it was climbing with close friends who all needed an intermediate rock climb to graduate and there was a big fire up the valley with smoke billowing high into the atmosphere.

How has your leadership style evolved as you've gained experience?

I started out a little more directive and morphed quickly into a collaborative open style. This gives everyone voice and some ownership. Every climb is an opportunity to practice leadership and followership. If the situation becomes dangerous I go right back to directive until the entire team is safe.

Any learning experiences you can share, such as take-aways from a close call or a near miss?

Learn to observe your climbers on the approach and if something doesn't seem right with them it probably isn't. Find a way to dig deeper without putting the climber on the spot. The second pitch of five is a bad time to find out anything. Every climb is one move away from a rescue scenario so plan for it and practice rescue methods early and often. Set your expectations for the climbers right up front when you post it. Where to meet, no party separation, walk in together, walk out together, in the event of an emergency everyone is a rescuer, and the summit is a bonus that would be nice if the conditions favor it.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in The Mountaineers community?

Volunteer for everything you can, especially teaching. That will keep you in the field learning new things and refreshing everything else. If you have to teach something to others you will have to learn it very well. Volunteering will also introduce you to many amazing leaders in The Mountaineers who you can learn even more from.

Remember that you are leading your group's climb, not yours. If you have a person who is slower put them up front and don't push them to go faster. An exhausted climber is a patient. If you have energetic roadrunners in the back give them an extra rope to slow them down. And my personal favorite - shouting encouragement to a terrified climber is no help at all, for anyone.

Is there aNYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU?

With the experience I gained through The Mountaineers since 2012, I lead an expedition to Denali in summer 2019. We ran out of time and did not summit but the experience of being on the mountain was inspiring. We learned a lot about the mountain and more about ourselves. I live in Kitsap County and love our new Kitsap Program Center. For work I am a government drinking water engineer and ride my bike to work every day in Seattle.

Lightning Round

What's your go-to place for a post-trip meal? Marblemount Diner
How about your best trail snack? Honey Bunchies
What's your favorite close-to-home adventure? Green Mountain - Gold Creek Trailhead
What "luxury item" do you bring on most trips? Feathered Friends Down Booties
What's next on your bucket list? Kilimanjaro, then Mt. Fuji!

is there Someone that you'd like to see in the spotlight?

Send an email to Sara Ramsay to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!