To reach the top you have to start from the bottom

Per arrivare in vetta, si parte dal basso

There’s still no mountain in sight, but the tension in the air is undeniable. At the bottom of what these people are about to do – what we’re all about to do – there is something incredible.

It doesn’t happen often that a whole organization, all the employees of a leading business management company, find themselves in a room talking about how to reach the top of the Mont Blanc. It’s neither what one would define as a normal working day in Milan, nor a typical business goal.

But it makes perfect sense, because Methodos does exactly that: Change Management. It teaches companies to change. It teaches people in organisations not to feat change, challenges, and the difficulties of a long and uncertain journey. And this time it’s putting it in practice - on itself.

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There are about thirty people in the room, and while Filippo, the CEO of the group speaks, there is a solemn silence, interrupted only by the occasional nervous laugh. He’s explaining what this project means for him, for the company, for all those present: a challenge, a way to change their own attitudes and mindset, but above all, a stimulus to discover something new. About themselves, their colleagues, and about their own potential. It’s a great opportunity for all to do something that most people don’t even think about doing in a lifetime. And everyone in the room knows it. But it doesn’t make them any less worried.

Then he passes the word to the doctor, an athletic trainer specialised in high mountains, who is used to managing high level athletes. It must be strange for him to find himself in this very different context! His words make his work clear, but we can also feel his effort to instil his love for the mountains - and the will to do this - in all the participants.

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I like his approach, because he understands immediately who he has in front of him: the varying ages of the participants, from their 20s to their 60s. Greying hair is not a rare sight in his audience, but they are all in great shape. It’s clear that there are no objective impediments to the success of the expedition. It’s only a question of preparation and process: from now until 2020 these people will have to train, to try, and to believe.

The only real impediment is the mental one. Mindset, to be precise. Very few know, even at a basic level, what mountain climbing is about. Some have done some mountain trips, but most are probably more sea types than mountain types. Nevertheless, over the next year and a half, they will engage in this adventure, in a challenge against themselves and their own comfort zone. They’re afraid, naturally. I am too, even as someone being called to witness and recount this extraordinary project from the outside. I have to do it living this journey with them step by step, outing after outing.

And so, the doctor immediately opens Pandora’s box. “What scares you?” he asks. After a few seconds of silence, hands start to timidly go up. The cold, the hygiene, the diet, the altitude, the fatigue, the sense of inadequacy in comparison to colleagues, the feeling of being pushed against the wall… one after the next, their fears come out. Gradually the tension melts, probably because they can recognise in the words of their companions their own anxieties. But also the will to do it, the awareness of being a team, and how extraordinary the experience that awaits them really is.

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The team calms them down and informs them, staying calm as only someone who really knows the mountains can be. They’re all things that they probably already know: that no one gets left behind, that it’s always the slowest that sets the pace, that this is a team building occasion and an opportunity to find their own roles in this great machine that is moving towards a goal. But hearing them said in an explicit way makes them all more at ease. Then he moves on to the more technical aspects: long-term athletic preparation, nutrition, the gradual steps to take in order to arrive, a step at a time, at the top. More and more smiles, laughs, sarcastic comments and jokes. I can see the harmony in this group, maybe exactly because I’m not one of them I can feel it even more. And I feel like they’ll be able to do it exactly for this reason.

Maybe not all of them - maybe someone that was sure they’d do it won’t feel up to it anymore… but maybe others, that were sure they would never see the top, will find themselves up there, at 4810 metres, to plant the flag – also for the colleagues that supported them along the way. 

That’s what beautiful about this journey, and about being here to recount it. That we’ll discover what is going to happen, a step at a time.

The journey

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Mont Fallère

Methodos - M4810 - Mont Fallère

It is the first peak over 3.000m of our project

Mont Fallère is found in the Grand Combin Alps in the Aosta Valley.

Found between the Gran San Bernardo Valley and the Valdigne, it’s a great introduction to the magical world of the 3000s. Mont Fallère, situated in the heart of the Aosta valley, proposes a 360° panorama of all the Aosta valley peaks. Its layout is not the be underestimated, but overall it doesn’t present great difficulties, even if we need to be really careful in the final part of the ridge.

We go up in two stages: the first day up to the Fallère Hut; the second day we arrive at the summit and then we go down to the valley.

Read the story :)

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Pointe Lechaud

Our first alpinistic climb to a summit

Pointe Léchaud (3.128m) is located along the borderline between Italy (Valle d'Aosta) and France (Savoy).

It is located south of the Col de la Seigne (2.512m) between the Veny Valley and the Savoy Valley of the Glaciers.

We climb in two stages: on the first day we walk from La Visaille to the Elisabetta Soldini Hut (2.195m); on the second day up to the top and back to La Visaille.

From the hut we go up to the Col Chavannes (2.603m); from the hill we have to leave the marked path that begins to descend into the Chavannes valley, following a path on the right that crosses the very steep eastern slope of Mount Lechaud. The trail continues on the right, again not far from the crest of Mount Lechaud and crosses a small valley of stones or snow, reaching the wide basin where the Chavannes Glacier is located. Once we have put on crampons, we set foot on the glacier going diagonally to the left. From this point we gradually turn to the right pointing directly to the top, which can be reached by overcoming some easy rocky steps. What we see is a vast and spectacular panorama on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.

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Vallée Blanche

Methodos - M4810 - Vallée Blanche

Crossing the Gigante glacier towards the Aiguille du Midi

Although it may seems like a "scenic walk", the Vallée Blanche should not be underestimated, as it is an itinerary that involves crossing the Gigante glacier. It is always necessary to be accompanied by an Alpine Guide who knows the itinerary very well and knows how to avoid the dangers.

We go up by cable car to Punta Helbronner (3.462m), we wear harnesses and crampons and we tie ourselves together.

The first section makes us lose altitude and then we start to climb towards the Aiguille du Midi. The last section includes the ascent of the snow-covered ridge of the Aiguille du Midi, reaching 3.842m.

The return is with the panoramic cable car which takes us back to Punta Helbronner.

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Gran Paradiso

Methodos - M4810 - Gran Paradiso

The Gran Paradiso is the only mountain over 4000m that is fully on Italian territory

The Gran Paradiso is the only mountain over 4000m that is fully on Italian territory. A classic and fascinating climb: after a first part on ice, to be able to reach the peak marked by a statue of the Virgin Mary, you must pass some simple rocky crossings.

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Monte Rosa

Methodos - M4810 - Monte Rosa

2 full-immersion days of technical alpine skill training on Monte Rosa

The Monte Rosa is a mountain range that is found in the Pennine Alps, along the watershed line between Italy (on the border of the Aosta valley and Piedmont) and Switzerland. It gives name to the Monte Rosa Alps supergroup, which in turn is composed of various important groups and subgroups, east of the Cervino and south-east of the Mischabel range. It is the most extended range in the Alps, and second in height after the Mont Blanc. It is the highest mountain in Switzerland and the second in Italy, and has the highest average height, containing 9 of the 20 highest peaks of the chain.

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Monte Bianco

Methodos - M4810 - Monte Bianco

Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian) is a mountain situated in the North-occidental Alps, in the Graian Alp range, on the watershed line between the Aosta valley (val Veny and val Ferret in Italy), and Haute-Savoie (the Arve valley in France), in the territories of Courmayeur and Chamonix, which give name to the Mont Blanc Massif, belonging to the subsection of the Mont Blanc Alps.

It’s 4808,72m (the last official measure was taken September 13, 2017) make it the highest mountain in the Alps, in Italy, in France, and in general in Europe if we exclude the Caucuses. This is why it’s called the King of the Alps. It shared a spot on the list of the highest Seven Summits with Mount Elbrus in the Caucuses.

Primarily granite full of peaks and crests, cut by deep glacial valleys, it is internationally renowned for its climbing and, from a historical point of view, the birth of mountaineering coincides with its first ascent: August 8, 1786.