Well, I said hard work and I wasn’t wrong.
Thankfully rising to a challenge is not something which I shy away from so, despite the odd hesitation, the odd blister and the odd moment of vertigo, we achieved our goal in reaching the summit of the highest mountain in Western Europe.
D-day: Saturday 8th July 2013
A 2:45 am alarm call heralded the beginning of the day although I had been awake for a while. We joined other dedicated mountaineers for the mountain hut’s 3 am breakfast (one of three sittings throughout the night/morning) and, after a bowl of hot chocolate and the donning of multiple lightweight layers of kit, we set out with our guide to climb to the summit of the 4808m Dame Blanche. The head torches of climbers who had taken the 1 am breakfast sitting could be seen in the distance and was a reality check of how far we had to go, upwards.
Our progress to the top, via the route known as La Voie des Trois Monts, is a bit of blur to be honest. So much concentration was required at every step, on so little sleep (mixed-sex communal dorms in mountain huts are really not that conducive to quality sleep – nudge nudge wink wink!) and on such a tight schedule. Just putting one foot safely in front of the other and finding enough breath at altitude to deal with the physical exertion was enough to keep my brain occupied. I was at the back with the 3 of us all tied together. We started off energetically across the glacier and then the climb started: up, up & up, over some crevasses, ever steepening, ice axes and then, as we neared the summit, 100 vertical metres. I couldn’t look down. Then unnervingly a downhill section before climbing up to the summit – a crescent shaped plateau, 120m long. The last 450m were covered at a snail’s pace, the slowest I have ever walked in my life, although we did overtake a lot of people at this point. That’s not testament to our ability, just to the difficulty of the situation.
It then took us another 6 hours to get back to Chamonix and it will likely take 6 days+ to recover physically.
The lessons learned?
– Fitness is good.
– Vertigo is not good.
– Courage is key.
If you want to achieve, you’ve got to be brave. It’s not a new message but one which has a new perspective once you’ve attained a goal such as this. There are loads of things I want to achieve but to bring this round to the business perspective which I started with in my Forging Forward post: I want to achieve growth for my company. I want to achieve technological development for my company. I want to achieve increased credibility for my company. In order to do those things, I have to be brave. Brave enough to take risks, brave enough to spread the word, brave enough to ask for advice and brave enough to be honest.
Continue to grow the workforce in order to best complement the growing business; expand the vertical market sales strategy to allow us to use our strengths to best serve our customers and prospects; attain accreditation which will exemplify our dedication to increasing Veber’s efficiency and quality.
Oh and maybe jump out of a plane at 2 miles up and free-fall to the ground at speeds of 120 mph….I’ll keep you posted.