When the mountains don’t meet Methodos: lessons on limiting factors

Among the many aspects of life that the mountains seem to be able to teach us about – both in work and in Change Management – the limiting factors make up one of the most important. 

The mountains are able to teach, in uniquely severe ways, the importance of adaptability, of the ability to change plan according to specific conditions, in order to reach goals. 

It’s an environment where controllable and incontrollable factors challenge each other and continuously try to find balance in ways that are unpredictable: technical preparation is challenged by unstable weather, long term plans by snowfalls, human ambition by the force of nature. 

It’s a dance in which human and non-human hold hands and begin moving to the rhythm of the music. 

With M4810 we have been made aware of this multiple times, and it will probably happen again. Every outing and every plan is challenged by chance: more than one outing has had to be rescheduled due to rain, more than one route has had to be altered due to snow or a change in some external factor. 

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When a summer that was colder than usual covered the mountains with a late snowfall in June, our plan to conquer the Petit Mont Blanc had to be reviewed and changed to Pointe Léchaud.  And now that we are approaching our final goal, the Mont Blanc, this will be even more so the case.

It may seem like a tormenting thought. 

A condition that leaves a lot to chance, that decides the success or failure of a mission like M4810 based on fate and not human ingenuity. 

But this isn’t the case. 

The work put in is more ingenuous than technical. It’s about being able to foresee the variables that are predictable, about studying alternative plans: a unique exercise in long term vision and analysis. 

And this is the biggest challenge, a lesson to learn both for life and for work: being able to change plans, instead of persisting on an unattainable path, is synonym for success, wisdom, and ingenuity. 

It implies learning to accept the responses that a process provides, being humble and wise enough to be able to read it and understand what is to be learned. Limiting factors are reality, as much in the mountains as in life, and knowing how to adapt to the context is essential in order to generate value. In the end, this is what has driven human evolution since the beginning of time. 

Mountaineering is an activity that can become extreme and that can come dangerously close to becoming hubris, the excessive push of the ego that can lead to neglect of safety and common sense. The risk is of becoming “conquistadors of the useless”, as defined by Lionel Terray, with a positive and negative connotation: of searching for human limit, but also of the uselessness of overcoming it when the price to pay is excessive. 

And this is what we learn in the mountains with M4810 – what we bring home to our daily work. The adaptability process is worth more than the peak and the challenge is multi-faceted: it’s external but also internal, linked to our commitment towards our decisions and convictions, with the risk of falling into heuristic traps along the way. 

Experimenting with a new, different, and potentially hostile environment helps to develop this essential attitude. Not the single capacity of achieving a result (like reaching the peak or closing a project), but of being able to do so in an intelligent and measured way.

This is the real success.

A mindset geared towards sustainable growth, value, and long term orientation and not the immediate satisfaction of a need. 

In order to be able to help the leaders of organisations do it as well as possible, we’re experimenting it first and foremost on ourselves. 

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.