The steps of change: awareness

The steps of change: awareness

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in the Methodos offices. I look around and smile. 

Groups of people fill the room, standing over trail maps, compasses in hand. From the back, a camera on a tripod captures the scene so that those who couldn’t be here this time could also access the lesson (and probably the laughs, too). 

It’s happening during working hours, but the words I hear are unusual given the context… Words like “azimuth” and “level lines”.

This is one of the meetings with the Milano CAI volunteers in preparation for our Mont Blanc expedition (and all the others that we’ll face before we get there).

We find ourselves in one of the big open-space rooms of the office - looking at slides on mountain theory and practice – preparing ourselves for what we’ll face on this endeavour. 

It’s a fundamental part of the change process that the M4810 participants will undergo.

It’s a critical element that will pose its own challenge. One thing is hiking in the mountains accompanied by a guide, enjoying the trek and the views, and going back home unchanged. Another thing is being able to recognise weather changes, possible risks; being able to navigate and find the path even in dense fog; understand the hidden dangers of the terrain and what to do when you need to do a roped walk across a glacier - returning home truly changed.

In order to do it, though, we need to be aware of the hidden risks and possible critical aspects. 

The CAI volunteer talking to us about managing risk in the mountains keeps a serious tone to his presentation, but a smile betrays his passion. He shows us photos of cracks and exposed paths.

They’re not images of far away, remote places. They’re real testimonies of what we’ll find on the Goûter Route of the Mont Blanc. The small group of consultants observing the photos look concerned.

“In adventure sports, eliminating risks means taking away the nature of the experience itself, taking away its attractiveness. And it wouldn’t even be possible. We can’t talk about zero risk in the mountains. But we can talk about reducing it.”

And how do we reduce it? By being aware.

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He shows us a photo that we first have to put in focus. Then we understand.

It shows a family of hikers. Their red t-shirts and short socks stand out on the background of white snow that surrounds them. One of them is turned towards the back, extending his arm to help another person get over a long, narrow hole in the terrain. 

When our teacher points out that it’s actually an ice bridge over a crevasse – a hole into the heart of the ice that can be hundreds of metres deep – we finally understand.

Awareness is everything. Without it, risk multiplies infinitely. 

We have to be aware of what we’re doing. We don’t want this to be a simple journey - we want to change. 

We want to find, within ourselves, the power to face difficulties. We want to find trust in our team, the ability to follow our leaders, and to actively contribute to reaching our goals. 

The power of an idea and the determination to reach a result, even if it seems impossible.

The Mont Blanc is the perfect representation of all this - which they usually face at work. This time, they’ll face it between ice, boulders, and crevasses.

In the change management process, this would be the phase of improving change readiness. We’ve monitored feelings, individual and group predisposition, and motivation. We know where we’re leaving from, and where we want to arrive. In between, we find not just physical training, which may actually be the easiest part of the journey. There’s also mental preparation – the real playing field. 

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After the first phase of change, the one characterised by doubt, there came a rise to face the challenge. We took off running and discovered that we really want it – that it comes from the heart. We started training our legs, at the gym and in the mountains, as well as the stomach with a complementary diet. 

Now it’s time to train our mind, though: it’s the key to reaching the top. And the mind is sceptical by nature. It’s afraid of change, of the unknown, of what it can’t control. It pulls back, it wants to stay in its comfort zone, where there are neither crevasses nor risks. 

But that’s not how mountains are conquered. And it’s not how companies manage to remain leaders in management consulting. 

Risk is defined by CAI as the simultaneous existence of an objective danger and of a risky choice, a subjective danger. It’s like this in business, too, where the line between success and bankruptcy is a choice basked in uncertainty. 

And the compass that should guide us, in the mountains and in life, is awareness. The preparation. 

We can’t allow ourselves to follow the crowd. We’re all responsible for making balanced and accurate choices based on our knowledge and competences.

In dealing with clients in everyday work as in front of a crevasse of the Mont Blanc.  

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.