Today I watched a presentation about four guys on a 40-day expedition to traverse, from north to south, Alaska's Denali Peak. All told, they climbed 41,000 vertical feet, 18,000 of which were roped, technical climbing. In comparison, Everest, the tallest peak in the world, involves just under 15,000 feet of roped, technical climbing. Though the elevation difference between Denali and Mount Everest is 9,000 feet (Denali is 20,328 feet, and Everest is 29,000 feet), the feat these four guys completed was more than commendable. They endured temperatures of 50 degrees below zero, winds gusting to 90 miles per hour, frost bite on their faces, and days, a week even, stuck inside a tent holding the walls up so their house wouldn't blow away.
This expedition was 11 years in the dreaming and two years in the planning, so obviously sheer drive helped them summit successfully. However, I did notice many "small things" in the videos that I'm sure kept them going moment by moment.
They did robot disco moves on knife-edge ridges to make the others laugh for a few steps up the mountain.
On the summit, they turned their cameras on each other to allow others to speak words of victory instead of hogging the glory.
They literally carried each others' loads when one or another was too sick to carry his own.
In reality, it never is truly about the summit. It is about the journey through spectacular sunrises and deathly cold whiteouts--together, supporting each other, every step of the way.