MODESTO, Calif. -Climbing a mega rock is akin to trying to builda solid credit union for Valley First Credit Union President HankBarrett. Barrett recently climbed Yosemite Park's Half Dome for thesecond time. The Half Dome is an 8,836-foot rock that takes aclimber 4,800 feet above sea level. “Hiking Half Dome is one ofthose `must accomplish' things in life,” Barrett says, “It's a verydoable hike, yet challenging enough to let you know you'veaccomplished something; you feel the pain for days afterward.” ForBarrett, reaching the summit felt similar to achieving a 15-yearmilestone of upward growth as CEO. When Barrett came to the CU ithad just $19 million in assets, one branch and 17 employees. Todaythe four-branch CU has $250 million in assets and employs 115. Hegot involved with the Half Dome at the urging of one of the CU'sboard members who too had climbed it “At first I viewed it as justa day hike and substantially underestimated what it would do to me.Thank goodness enough individuals stressed that this wasn't yourtypical day hike!” While running a marathon takes a higher degreeof preparation, “the pain you feel when you finish is about thesame,” Barrett points out. Fortunately, a friend who planned to dothe hike, but became sick the day before, lent him his waterpurifier, altimeter and medical tape to ensure he was wellequipped. “It was demanding to hike the 19 miles to the top andclimb over 4,800 feet in elevation,” he said. For his second hike,his 16-year-old son shared in the experience. “It was special to beable to spend the time with my son, Alex.”[email protected]

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