Andrew Pousson flies the Haskell flag at the summit of Mt. Shasta.

June 8, 2022

California Assignment Creates Path to Mountaineering Adventure

Assistant Project Manager Andrew Pousson bonded with new colleagues and fulfilled a goal when a group of Haskell team members hiked Mt. Shasta.

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A Louisiana native based out of Jacksonville, Florida, Andrew Pousson didn’t imagine that his job as an Assistant Project Manager (APM) at Haskell would involve summiting a 14,180-foot-high mountain, but he’s glad it did.

When a coworker in Haskell’s Livermore, California, office invited Pousson to hike Mount Shasta while visiting to work on the Niagara STK4 project, he was happy to accept. Not only would it give him a chance to get to know his colleagues, but it also would fulfill a long-held ambition.

“Peter Ferek organized the whole trip, and I thought it would be a good way to meet the Livermore team and do something really cool,” Pousson said. “I’ve always wanted to go mountaineering but never had the chance. So, I joined the interest meetings, did some research on the hike, and jumped in feet first.”

With more than 20 offices and 100 active job sites in the United States, Haskell’s team members have the chance to work in a variety of project types and locations. It’s not unusual for the experience to include activities that help colleagues create meaningful bonds, whether it be summiting the second highest peak in the Cascades or cruising Florida’s St. Johns River on Casa Mia, the company’s corporate yacht.

“Our satellite offices are very oriented toward team building,” said Mark Van Landingham, Director of Construction in Haskell’s Consumer Packaged Goods Group. “They want to keep the group together and create a camaraderie. We try to do that everywhere, too. In Jacksonville we took everyone on the Project Management (PM) team out on the Casa Mia to build a stronger bond. It’s definitely fun when you can go to those offices and participate in that sort of thing and get to know everyone a bit better.”

From left, Peter Ferek, Jessica Larson, Andrew Pousson, Mark Ferek are pictured at the Bunny Flat trailhead before embarking on their hike up Mt. Shasta.

Pousson and his team’s journey, which spanned roughly three days, began by camping at the base of the mountain, at an elevation of about 7,000 feet, on Friday night and ascending nearly 3,000 feet the next morning. Pousson said his coworkers’ support gave him the nerve to undertake this feat.

“It was legitimate mountaineering, which, on my own, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to try and figure out because it can be dangerous,” he said. “It was cool going with Peter, who knew a bit more about the process. He taught me how to self-arrest in case of a fall and how to use the ice axe. I wouldn’t have made it up Shasta without those guys, so it was definitely a team effort.”

On Sunday, the team started at 2:30 a.m. to reach their final summit. When the weather deteriorated and the effects of altitude became more severe, three of the four people in Pousson’s group decided to turn back about a mile from the summit out of precaution against frostbite. Pousson, however, felt prepared to continue to the summit. Following the stream of other hikers, he made it to the summit where he posed with the Haskell flag.

“I wish everyone could’ve made it to the top, too,” he said. “We’re talking about doing Shasta again. Obviously, some people on the trip have some unfinished business with that mountain.”

Being in California, Pousson wants to take advantage of his surroundings as much as possible. He says that being surrounded by outdoorsy people has sparked his interest in adventure and strengthened the bond between him and his colleagues.

“I thought it was cool, doing something as intense as that hike, because you go into battle with your coworkers, and going through such an intense experience with them really tightens your bond,” he said. “It felt less like being with coworkers and more like I was just hanging out with people who happen to work at the same company as me. Now, when I work with them in the future, we have that background together already, so I’d say it was a really interesting way to get to know someone.”

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