It’s easy for anyone – even a trained mountaineer – to underestimate the complexity of the Mont Blanc. This is even truer for the large group of novice hikers that are training in this company. Some of the difficulties were not even imaginable when this idea started taking shape.
Anyone that’s been keeping up with the news in recent months knows that there is a new rule regarding the Mont Blanc: a new limit has been put on the number of hikers that can attempt reaching the summit.
It was a controversial decision. It was welcomed by some as a historic day for Europe’s most famous mountain on the grounds that it will reduce the number of incidents and pollution, and generally give value to the access to the top of Europe. But it was also criticised and worried others, whether it was because, as said by Hervé Barmasse, “prohibiting access to the mountains means taking away freedom,” or because, as the mayor of Chamonix fears, it may push people to attempt the climb through other, more dangerous routes. With obvious, sad repercussions on the number of wounded - or worse.
In this context, the M4810 expedition becomes even more important. It’s not just a challenge being faced by a company, but an example of how this kind of undertaking should be confronted.
The training and preparation process that we’re facing in Methodos is a symbol of our commitment to not underestimating the mountain and the difficulties that it poses.
These political decisions definitely impose another challenge.
We will have to request permission much in advance, booking the Goûter hut for a fixed number of people on a fixed day. Will the weather agree with our choice of date? Will there be enough snow to safely climb the French route? These are all questions that we can’t ignore, and that we have to take into consideration in the process that we’ve taken on.
It’s true, nature always has the last word. And for the Mont Blanc it’s truer than ever, with its 4810 metres of height, up there between glaciers and clouds.
Two years of physical preparation won’t be enough, then. The medical visits, the training, the outings, and the gym aren’t enough. We’ll also need flexibility, adaptability, and awareness about the risks involved and of our own limits. Reaching our goal won’t be a question of physical endurance, but also – and above all – a question of organisation, decision making, external support, and compromise. What will we do if our chosen road is inaccessible?
Reaching the peak of the Mont Blanc can be done taking various routes, but the Goûter is the most popular. And, more importantly, the safest. Changing route would mean going up a degree of difficulty in a project that already poses many challenges.
We’re working to get dozens of consultants, with varying attitudes towards the mountains, to lend us their talent in giving value to this project. We’re training towards finding a synchronised step, a fitting team spirit, and a unique bond. We’re preparing ourselves with the right gradual steps to face the challenge that is altitude, a dangerous discomfort that can take anyone by surprise – even the strongest.
Advice and information are checked, added up, cancelled. This is also an important process – becoming aware.
But in the end, the final destination of this trip doesn’t matter so much: what’s important is the journey.
Change - the ultimate goal of this project - is undeniably underway. A group of consultants, without particular prior knowledge of the mountains, is putting body and soul into adjusting their mindset to advance the expedition. If we let ourselves be discouraged by limits, the obstacles set by nature, we’d do nothing if not hide behind our alibi - the excuse that there is something greater than us that we can’t fight against.
Our strength is exactly this, then: that we don’t want to climb the Mont Blanc to plant our flag at the top. We want to climb the Mont Blanc to plant a flag within ourselves, to remind ourselves that no change is too big if faced in the right way.