The grisly results of one of the most powerful events in Malcolm Dalyâ€™s life were hidden from the view of his audience of almost 50 people Tuesday night.
Though he stood confident and upright, behind the podium Daly was resting on only one damaged foot. His right shoe was filled by a prosthetic, a constant reminder of the climbing accident Daly calls â€œthe crux of my life.â€
Daly lost the foot, shattered both legs and sustained permanent damage from frostbite after a 200-foot fall from a high pitch on Alaskaâ€™s Thunder Mountain. He spent more than 48 hours hanging from anchors high on the face of the mountain while his partner descended to find help.
After his accident, Daly said he struggled to fill the â€œmetaphorical spaceâ€ opened by the loss of his foot, which jeopardized the pursuit of one of his lifeâ€™s greatest passions. Though his body has still not fully recovered more than a decade later he is now able to approach the subject with humor.
â€œI wake up in the morning and my feet hurt, and it just gets worse throughout the day,â€ he said with an unexpected chuckle. â€œSorry ÂÂâ€“â€“ my foot hurts.â€
The 1978 graduate of CSUâ€™s Outdoor Recreation program founded the company Trango Holdings, Inc., which manufactures and distributes climbing equipment and sports bras, in 1991 â€“â€“ nine years before his accident. Trango has since grown into a multi-million dollar company and does business in 17 countries.
Daly was selected for the CSU Alumni Associationâ€™s â€œSpotlight on CSU,â€ an honor awarded to autistic animal sciences professor Temple Grandin last May. He spoke for an hour in a conference room at the Hilton on Prospect Road, explaining the ways his climbing career has influenced his approach to running his business.
Despite his success, Daly painted himself as a wholly mediocre student, saying he â€œstumbled around college for four and a half yearsâ€ before graduating â€œwith a B-minus average and a diploma no one has asked to see.â€
â€œIf you have an idea inside you,â€ he said, â€œif you have an idea, if you have a need, then you can be a business person.â€
In a slideshow featuring photos from his own experiences â€“â€“ and a few he confessed to finding online â€“â€“ he gave pointers on business leadership that could easily be mistaken for rock climbing advice.
Those in attendance were encouraged to â€œknow your route,â€ â€œcarry the rope,â€ and even â€œnever take your partner off belay.â€ The latter, he said, meant that close colleagues should share the trust that is essential for climbing partners â€“â€“ the same bond that gave him hope while anchored along to the steep face of Thunder Mountain.
After the presentation, audience members said they were inspired by Dalyâ€™s blend of humor and insight.
â€œI feel like you shouldnâ€™t limit yourself to what you think you can do,â€ said freshman biology major Tiffany Ly, one of the few students at the event.
Lyâ€™s inspiration came despite some candid but cynical response to her request for advice.
â€œGo to welding class,â€ he said.
News Editor Matt Minich can be reached at email@example.com.