Walter Huber lives for the thrill of adventure.

Growing up, he was a national-level track athlete in triple-jump and hurdles. He thrived on discipline, time-management skills and dedication to physically, mentally and emotionally succeed through pain and failure.

Those skills have helped Huber in his career as an accountant in the technology field. He worked his way up from an accounting manager at Hewlett-Packard to Director of Financial Planning at OpenText.

Today, Huber is the CFO for two companies: Sweet Tooth, a loyalty-rewards company in the e-commerce sector; and P&P Optica, a spectrometry business, developing better devices for reading the light signatures that compounds and elements give off.

Wilderness hiking, it should be noted, has exploded in popularity over the last few years with the publication of Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.

Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Washington in the summer of 1995. The story of her emotionally and physically draining trek became a movie, starring Reese Witherspoon, in 2014.

The book and movie brought attention to long-distance hiking, and many trails are seeing a surge in hikers.

Huber and some friends recently finished hiking the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 15 years, using holiday time, the group trekked the 339-kilometre distance between Yosemite Valley and Mount Whitney.

This required constant physical training: Mount Whitney is 4,267 metres (14,000 feet) high.

“We have run the Chicopee Hill a lot over the years,” he said about his local training program.

Huber’s hiking group all had family responsibilities, which held them back from hiking the trail in one go.

With his two daughters now grown and out of the house, Huber has been itching for a new mountain challenge.

“I’ve been drawn to mountains since I saw some when I was eight years old, reading a National Geographic with pictures of the Himalayas.”

He had plans to hike to the Mount Everest Base Camp this fall; but with the April 25 earthquake that devastated much of the rural country, Huber has changed his plans.

“When [the Everest expedition] fell through, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t do something humanitarian,” he said. “It’s all come together for me.”

He now has teamed up with Peak Freaks, a Canadian-based expedition company, and First Steps Himalaya to join a humanitarian trip to Nepal this November.

Huber will head over with a team of 12 to help build a sandbag school — a building method that stands up to earthquakes.

Huber’s long-term interest and curiosity with Nepal, launched from that National Geographic article many years ago, meant that he needed to do something to help the people rebuild their lives.

“People are coming out of the woodwork and stepping up to help out,” he said.

Although he has covered his own costs for the Peak Freaks trip, he is raising funds for Nepal through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Local charity startup ChangeIt has come on board with a donation option on its platform.

Huber also plans on holding a community event this fall to raise awareness and support for the recovery effort in Nepal.

His long-term thinking is strategic. He notes that right after a disaster happens, there is normally global support. For developing countries with poor infrastructure, the road to rebuilding is very long.

While immediate support is needed for victims, continuing support is just as valuable as the country rebuilds the infrastructure — roads, homes, water supply — we take for granted.

“I wasn’t planning on everything happening. I just needed to help,” Huber said.

So far, the support of his network and the community have overwhelmed him.

“I can be the catalyst, but I can’t do it all by myself,” he said.

Huber has always been passionate about giving back to the community. As a first-generation Canadian, whose parents were displaced from their homes during the Second World War, he values how lucky Canadians are to have homes, stability and communities that give people second chances to rebuild their lives.

Now that he’s asked for help, he’s been humbled by the positive response.

“The network does work,” he said. “Now I’m relying on my network. I’m happy to pay it forward.”


I see and hear that . . . Meet the Pebble North team at the first-ever Pebble developer meetup this Thursday, May 28 in the Atlas/ Matrix room in the Communitech Hub, 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener. Pebble will provide food and drink at this free event. Register today to join a night of development chatter and free swag . . . This Friday, May 29, Microsoft hosts an Azure Virtual Machines lunch-and-learn. You’ll get a demo of Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines and learn how eligible startups can get free Azure credits through BizSpark. The event runs 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Atlas/ Matrix room at the Communitech Hub. Lunch will be provided by Microsoft as part of the free event . . .If you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe this summer, but don’t want to pay full price, check out Fashion Warrior, a pop-up consignment-and-vintage clothing marketplace this Saturday, May 30 at the Button Factory, 25 Regina St. S., Waterloo. The event runs from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and features local vintage and consignment shops.