Chris Warner
CEO, Mountaineer & Leadership Development Expert

  • A CEO and expert on leadership development, Warner has been a featured speaker for top corporations and educational institutions, including Google, Morgan Stanley, Cisco, Northrup Grumman, YPO, and Johns Hopkins University.​
  • Warner guides leadership development expeditions for MBA Candidates at the Wharton School of Business.
  • Warner is one of only nine Americans to have summited both K2 and Everest.
  • One of the most successful mountaineers in North America, Warner has summited five of the world’s tallest peaks.​
  • Warner has been featured as an expert on climbing and leadership issues on numerous television shows and films.
  • Warner is the founder and CEO of Earth Treks, Inc, which operates a chain of premier indoor climbing centers and leads climbing expeditions to the world’s tallest peaks.

  • Chris Warner is a CEO, mountaineer, and teaches leadership at the Wharton School of Business. In his keynotes and workshops, Chris uses his gripping mountaineering stories and Emmy-nominated footage to illustrate the need for all of us to build better teams. He helps the audience transfer the leadership lessons by teaching a data-driven, real-world, formula for building high performance teams.

    “As an educator, you have to open people’s minds before you can fill them,” Chris says. “Epic stories of summiting Everest and surviving K2, have proven to be the perfect mind openers. We can then explore what it takes to create and lead a team that will be successful when failure is not an option.”

    An avid mountaineer with over thirty years of climbing experience, Chris has summited five of the world’s tallest peaks. Among his many accomplishments, Chris is one of only nine Americans to have summited both K2 and Everest, and he was the first American to “solo” an 8000 meter peak –the South Face of Shisha Pangma in a 34-hour non-stop ascent and descent. Chris started teaching climbing in 1983, and has led nearly 200 international mountaineering expeditions. He is a certified Alpine Guide with the American Mountain Guides Association.

    One of the most successful mountaineers in North America, Chris has been featured on numerous television shows and films. Among them, Chris guided the first-ever reality TV show filmed on Everest, and has also been an expert on climbing and leadership issues on NBC, CNBC, ABC, OLN, National Geographic TV, Fox, CNN, BBC, and Bloomberg. In 2007, Chris and his team filmed their K2 expedition for NBC and were nominated for several Emmys.

    Combining his passion for climbing with an entrepreneurial spirit, Chris founded Earth Treks, Inc. in 1990. Now with four locations and 250 employees serving more than 750,000 customers annually, Earth Treks operates premier indoor climbing and fitness centers, a rock and ice climbing school, and offers guided international mountaineering expeditions. Chris and Earth Treks have carved a niche for themselves in leadership development. Every year, Earth Treks guides expeditions for a variety of groups, such as senior executives, Fortune 500 companies, the MBA Candidates at the Wharton School of Business, covert and special ops teams and US Intelligence Agencies, and cancer survivors.

    Regarded as a top expert on creating and leading High Performance Teams, Chris has been a featured speaker for many top corporations and educational institutions, including Google, the coaching staff of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, BB&T Bank, Morgan Stanley, Cisco, General Growth Properties,

    Aegon, Monumental Life, Charles Schwab, Raymond James Financial Services, Northrup Grumman, Liberty Global, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, Prudential, The Allegis Group, WPO, YPO, Vistage, The University of Colorado, Loyola University’s Executive MBA Program, University of Maryland’s MBA Program, Wharton Business School, and Johns Hopkins University.

    He is also the co-author of several leadership books including High Altitude Leadership and Upward Bound.

  • Inspire. Educate. Entertain.

    • A great keynote presentation is inspirational, entertaining and educational.
    • A great keynote speech creates an immediate buzz and affects your team’s actions when they return to work.
    • A great keynote speaker helps your team reach it’s summit.

    Chris Warner has over 30 years of experience guiding people to the top (Everest, K2, Kilimanjaro: nearly 200 international mountaineering expeditions).  He’s given keynote speeches to teams trying to ignite sales, overcome challenges, explore new ideas, heal from tragedy and celebrate successes.   Thousands of keynote presentations have been delivered to CEOs, senior executives, sales teams, Fortune 500 companies, MBA classes,counter terrorism experts, military officers, NFL coaches,nurses, pilots and entrepreneurs.   Chris knows how to inspire,educate and entertain.

    Entertainment: A great keynote speech has the audience on the edge of their seats. Chris specializes in multi-media presentations, recounting his most epic mountaineering expeditions to Everest and K2. The stories and imagery are riveting: with climbers falling through the air, being swept away by avalanches, plunging into icy crevasses, holding climbers as they breathe their last breaths, huddling on tiny ledges as blizzards rage, rescuing stranded partners and reaching wind swept summits. As an author and Emmy Nominated film maker, Chris uses his story telling skills and dramatic HD footage, to help the audience feel the pain,gasp at the scenery and marvel at the heroism of some while becoming angered by the narcissism of others.

    Inspiration: The conflicts of good vs. evil, man vs. the improbable goal, selfishness vs. sacrifice, and more, are so powerfully illustrated that the audience “gets it” without being pandered to.The mountaineering expedition becomes a metaphor for the workplace, with the themes of passion, vision, partnership and perseverance inspiring all of us to perform at a higher level.

    Education:  Chris uses gripping stories to open the minds of the audience so the learning can begin.  Once the audience is open to the need to grow, he makes the transference from the mountaineering challenge to the business challenge – a true strength of his keynote presentations – the ability to transfer the lessons of these extreme adventures to the challenges we all face.  As the founder and owner of a fast growth company with 250 employees, serving more than 700,000 customers each year, Chris’ real life experiences as a successful entrepreneur, mountaineering guide, and leadership educator provide the audience with practical solutions to everyday (and epic) problems.

  • Let me thank you on behalf of Polaris Aviation Solutions and all the attendees of the leadership conference for an incredible seminar. The feedback from the group has been incredible and positive. You showed us that to be a high performance/altitude leader it takes a team that totally trusts each other, is passionate about what they are doing, is totally focused, establish definite goals and above all can clearly verbalize all of these things to the rest of the employees. We spent the rest of the next day putting together the Why, How and What that you challenged us with the previous day.

    – Founder/CEO, Polaris Aviation

    On behalf of our WPO chapter, thank you for being such a riveting and informative speaker. As a mountaineering “wannabe”, I was spellbound by your presentation. I was also really interested in your presentation about the necessity for Passion, Vision, Partnership and Perseverance in high functioning organizations. I am interested in organizational leadership and found your 4 characteristics to be spot on.

    – Member, World Presidents Organization

    You were absolutely fantastic…and really left an impression. I felt that your talk was amazing and I do so appreciate you taking the time out to join us for dinner as it was a lot of fun. You are a remarkable individual…

    – Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

    We are getting rave reviews…which certainly won’t hurt your future engagements with WPO.

    – Board Member, Washington Chapter World Presidents

    Thank you for presenting at our conference last week. You were a big hit! Everyone was buzzing about your presentation. And thank you for taking the time to sign your books. That made it all the more personal and special.

    – Board Member, National Business Aviation Association

    Your performance was just EXCELLENT. Thank you for sharing your knowledge at the Vistage conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    – Member, Vistage

    Thank you so much for your excellent presentation at our offsite! I received so many enthusiastic and appreciative comments about your talk from my colleagues immediately, and having now had the time to study the survey we conducted, you consistently (and uniquely by the way) received an evaluation of “10” on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being a segment of the most value!! I personally also found your account of the challenges you faced and overcame, both from nature and human nature, inspiring and informative! Thanks again!

    – National Counter-Terrorism Center

    Thank you so much for your presentation at our annual meeting. Our members were overwhelmed with the intensity of your experience and riveted by your stories.

    – Executive Director, National Council of the State Boards of Nursing

    Thanks for a tremendous presentation! It was exactly what we wanted, especially as the last session of the day. I also think your workbook is excellent and provides great support for those details. Above and beyond the presentation, it was just great getting to know you. As a person, you are an inspiration about what’s it’s really possible to achieve.

    – Founder/CEO, 10XCEO

    Chris is a riveting storyteller and a keen CEO/Entrepreneur. He has the ability to actually place you and your teams on K2, the most dangerous Peak in the world, facing peril, making decisions that are a matter of life and death. His messages are simple yet far reaching – Leaders have the most impact on team success and choose the right players for your journey or be forced to deal with the weakest links that will hinder your climb both up and down the mountain. Every organization deals with dysfunctional team dynamics; Chris takes a very candid approach to showing you why that could be catastrophic. He made a great impression on our leadership staff and is causing everyone to assess their teams to determine if we have what it takes to summit our peak. I would highly recommend Chris to any organization that wants to liven up their strategic planning sessions and allow leaders to see how high performing teams are essential for success in today’s business environment.

    – Founder/CEO, Force 3

    At SmartCEO Magazine we put on about 12 events per year and have brought in more than 60 speakers over the last five years. Chris Warner’s “Leadership Lessons from Climbing Mount Everest” was the most riveting event we have produced. No one left the room even for a moment. All eyes were glued to the front of the room from beginning to end. The lessons taught were presented in a manner that will be long lasting in the minds of the audience.

    – Publisher, SmartCEO

    Thank you for delivering such a powerful presentation at our meeting last week! People were talking about your story the entire weekend! You were definitely inspiring & motivational!

    – President, Monumental Life

    Blizzard conditions, battling personalities, dead bodies, life and death on a mountain, profound words of wisdom…..Chris Warner’s talks have it all and more. Students at Johns Hopkins were mesmerized by his tales of climbing some of the largest and most treacherous mountains in the world. Whether sleeping on the edge of a cliff on Mt. Shivling in India or trudging by bodies frozen in the snow on Mt. Everest, Mr. Warner’s experience, clear head, and sheer luck have always brought him down safely. He shares with students what he has learned about leadership, teamwork, patience, and making the split-second decisions that can mean the difference between life and death. As experienced and worldly as many college students are today, Hopkins students had never seen anyone with the energy and passion of Mr. Warner. He inspires his audiences to think about what they would do in impossible situations, to think outside the box, to come up with options. Climbers must use all these skills to get out of life-threatening situations. These are some of the same skills that will lead to success in business today. His audience will experience suspense…fear…disbelief…and finally intense admiration for him and what he has accomplished.

    – Professor, Johns Hopkins University

    Bravo to you and the team you have assembled. It blows me away that you are able to give others such incredibly rich experiences.

    – Google Leadership Development Department

    Your brilliantly engaging presentation left the group with much to take away from your experiences as a team leader, extreme guide and athlete.

    – Colorado Academy Board of Trustees

    That was fantastic!! A perfect start to our program.

    – CEO, Libert Global

    Talk about damn smart, caring and crazy skilled.

    – Google Director

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your personal K-2 story with us today and highlighting some of the key traits that will help our leaders make the transition to being great coaches. You did a great job and I am sure that everyone at the conference will be sure to remember your speech for many years to come when they are forced to confront a difficult situation (such as someone sleeping in their tent).

    – Comcast

    I couldn’t articulate it yesterday but I now understand why your presentation impacted me so heavily. After a huge financial investment and 18 months of homework hell in the EMBA program, it was great to be reminded what really, truly matters in life. Seeing footage and hearing your account of the sacrifices you made for the well being of other people did just that.

    – University of Maryland Exec MBA Student

    You’ll be thrilled to hear your talk has inspired a lot of follow-up debate on shoring up our team’s four key performance attributes (passion, vision, partnership, perseverance), including a working session today with managers across the globe on the”improbable goal

    we want to set for ourselves and the team in 2013. THANKYOU again for working your magic with this group and setting a fantastic foundation on which we can achieve that next summit as a team!

    – Director at Google

    You were super terrific! We already had so much GREAT feedback about your presentation. Thank You!

    – American Water Works Association

    You outperformed other outside speakers!

    – Senior Director, Comcast/NBC Universal CFO’s

    Thank you so much for coming! I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from your session. I was – once again – amazed by your storytelling and passion. This was a much needed inspiration day for our team and a great launching pad for us to embrace the future and create our own path.

    – Integer

    You were awesome!!! The feedback I have received is off the charts!!! You woke up a sleeping baby, that I hope turns into a monster!!!

    – CEO/Founder, Next Level

  • High Altitude Leadership Book CoverHigh Altitude Leadership


    In their book, business consultant Don Schmincke and mountain climber Chris Warner reveal the secrets to becoming a High Altitude Leader.

    The consultant and the mountaineer share first-person examples from major mountain climbing expeditions, interspersed with scenarios from boardrooms around the globe, to pinpoint the eight dangers that prevent people from reaching the highest levels of performance.

    “To thrive in the face of today’s business challenges and tomorrow’s unpredictable risks, you need to become the type of leader whose career, team, and company excels in the most extreme environments. With so much at risk, you have to be the High Altitude Leader who uses every bit of your talent and every ounce of your strength to guide your team to peak performance,” say Schmincke and Warner.

    Fear, selfishness, tool seduction, arrogance, lone heroism, cowardice, comfort, and gravity. These are the dangers that Schmincke and Warner say can sabotage anyone – at 26,000 feet above sea level or on the 26th floor of any corporate headquarters. According to the authors, fear is the nemesis of effective leadership – when fear surfaces, action stops. The ultimate strategy – killer, fear keeps staff from making important decisions and leaders from leading.

    Schmincke and Warner explain how to tame fear. They also discuss ways to overcome the other seven dangers that plague today’s businesses. Take tool seduction, for example. The authors explain that in mountaineering, the climber with the latest, fanciest, or most expensive equipment isn’t necessarily the one who will make it to the top. The same is true in business. Implementing trendy training programs may seem like a foolproof strategy for success, but it doesn’t mean that employees will be more productive or more effective. The authors warn leaders to be wary of the latest tools that seem to promise more than they can deliver.

    Each of the eight dangers in HIGH ALTITUDE LEADERSHIP is illustrated with log entries from some of Chris Warner’s most, exhilarating expeditions – K2, Everest, and Mount Shivling, to name a few. The thrill of the climb, the risks that hang over every step, the death of a fellow mountaineer, the callousness of some climbers, and the carelessness of others – tell the story of High Altitude Leadership. What’s more, all of the advice found in HIGH ALTITUDE LEADERSHIP is supported by Don Schmincke’s thorough research into how people organize and perform in groups and teams, and his study of the high failure rate of many management and leadership programs.

    HIGH ALTITUDE LEADERSHIP is the travel guide for traversing the dangers on the road to success.

    Click Here to Purchase the Book

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