2013 Speaking Recap

Last year gave me dozens of opportunities to relive my journey to the top of the world through motivational presentations at schools, universities / business schools and companies primarily across Europe and the Middle East, including at great companies such as Accenture, HP, McKinsey & Company, Danone and Dubizzle.

I spoke to audiences of various sizes, ages and cultural backgrounds about how many of the challenges we face on high altitude expeditions are very similar to the challenges that we encounter in our daily private and professional lives and therefore, how many of the ways in we address those challenges on the mountains are also relevant at sea-level.

Kasvufoorumi

 

As a businessman and mountaineer, I use the journey to address various topics relevant to businesses from encouraging ambition and setting goals for sales teams, to improving teamwork within and across departments as well as addressing topics such as dealing with constantly changing operating environments.

My most memorable experience from the past year was one young lady who came up to me post-presentation explaining that she suffered from ADD and has struggled to focus for periods longer than a few minutes for most of her life, however, my story had kept her engaged for almost two hours.

It gave me an amazing feeling…almost like the one I felt standing on top of the world ;-)

 

Speaking to Danone’s (famous for baby food) global management training program members visiting Dubai reminded me of some soul searching I had to do on Mount Everest while my wife Delanii was pregnant with our first born Felix ;-)

Shared my own leadership experiences from business and mountains to give the participants a different angle on the challenges of leadership.

 

Inspiring McKinsey & Co.

Spoke at McKinsey & Co’s first iMEO (Inspire Middle East Office) event in Dubai about what inspires me to test my limits in harsh environments like Mount Everest.

 

Met some very interesting people, had interesting conversations with a comedian and an inventor and inspired a few people not just to their own “mountains”, but real ones too!

 

Will your staff reach their peak in 2013?

This year, 2013, is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. This anniversary provides companies with a great opportunity to inspire, motivate and challenge their staff to reach their peak in 2013!

Since completing my First Finnish Seven Summits project, I’ve done corporate speaking in Europe as and the Middle East, combining mountaineering with my business background.

I’ve spoken to thousands of people, ranging from start-up’s to large multinationals and from small management teams to audiences of hundreds.

My presentations utilize my expedition experiences to address various business topics  - I
build each presentation based on the audience and the goals of the client while using stories, photographs and videos from my expeditions to e.g. Mount Everest to entertain, inspire and address issues identified with the client.

I’ve spoken about setting goals, aiming high, taking responsibility, teamwork, dealing with uncertainty,  leadership, etc. – many topics that you would address in any case e.g. during internal staff training / development sessions.

Using a presentation of the journey to the top of the world provides for both an exciting and entertaining presentation, so I encourage you click here for a short video done of my expedition to Mount Everest.

I’m happy to tell you more if your interested, so feel free to get in touch!

New Superhero: The Cold Avenger

Last summer on Denali, North America’s highest mountain, I tested a product called “Cold Avenger”, a mask designed to protect the face in cold and windy environments.

The mask performed very well, letting you breathe through a rubber piece, which ensures that the entire mask doesn’t get wet and freeze.

Anyways, the product is great, but I got chuffed today when I came across the website for Cold Avenger (click here). I’m featured alongside Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who’s described as the greatest living adventurer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funnily, the slogan “I am ColdAvenger” also brought back memories of last summers blockbuster movie Avenger, featuring various cartoon superheros, so I decided that The Cold Avenger must be one too! ;-)

 

First Anniversary of My Seven Summits

Today’s the first anniversary of my Seven Summits – climbing the highest mountains of every continent as the first person from my native Finland.

The “Seven Summits” –term was coined by Richard Bass, an American climber, who became the first to climb the mountains in 1985.

  • Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m) in Tanzania
  • Antarctica: Vinson Massif (4897m)
  • Asia: Mount Everest (8850m) in Nepal
  • Australia: Mount Kosciuszko (2228m) in Australia
  • Europe: Mount Elbrus (5642m) in Russia
  • North America: Denali (6194m) in USA
  • South Africa: Cerro Aconcagua (6962m) in Argentina

A year later, legendary Italian mountaineer, Reinhold Messner, also climbed the Seven Summits, but instead of climbing Mount Kosciuszco in mainland Australia, he felt that the highest mountain for Australian continent should be Carstensz Pyramid (4884m), which stands in the middle of the jungle on the island of Papua in Indonesia.

There mountaineering community remains split regarding which one is the correct mountain for Australia, so both views are accepted and referred to as the Bass and Messner Seven Summits Lists.

To date, roughly 350 people globally have climbed the Seven Summits. I’m one of around 100 people that have climbed both Bass and Messner Seven Summits Lists, so there’s no room for dispute ;-)

My Seven Summits project was an amazing experience. It started ten years ago in Africa, although at that time I viewed climbing Kilimanjaro simply as a mountain climb, not the start of a big project. Over the years, my climbs took me around the world to interesting places and finally on June 22nd, 2012 I completed the project by summiting Denali in
Alaska, USA.

It was an amazing feeling to complete a project that required years of focus and dedication, but also led to a feeling of what’s next and a desire for another big project. I’ll tell you more about what that ill be later!

Keep Moving!

I attended the launch of ANTA, the world’s 4th largest sportswear brand, in Dubai tonight.

Despite being a US$4.4 billion conglomerate, neither the ANTA brand nor their slogan “Keep Moving” are very well known globally yet, but they have a huge selection of products at very attractive prices, so there’s no doubt this one will be a big hit in the Middle East.

ANTA is brought to the Middle East by Regal International LLC. Best of luck to Raju, Sam, Aarathi and the rest of the Regal / ANTA team!

Mountains Under the Ice

One of the only remaining little-explored frontiers in the world today is Antarctica.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole on the 14th December 1911, but despite the +100 years of exploration, it’s still largely unexplored.

Most people know Antarctica as the coldest continent on earth. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded, -89.2C, was measured at the Vostok Station on Antarctica in 1983, while the average temperatures on the South Pole range from -26C to -56C.

However, most people don’t realise that Antarctica is actually a desert – the annual precipitation is only 200mm, which makes Antarctica the driest continent on earth.

It may sound bit counterintuitive, but the driest continent on earth is actually 98% covered in ice, which averages 1.6 km in thickness and makes Antarctica the highest continent on earth.

The Antarctic Icecap represents over 70% of the fresh-water resources on earth and hence is extremely important to the ocean ecosystems around the world. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have recently estimated that if the icecap melted, the ocean levels would rise by 58 meters.

I’ve had a chance to visit Antarctica twice – once arriving by boat from South America, exploring the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula and once when climbing Vinson Massif, the highest mountain on Antarctica.

My first time to this breath-taking place included a chance to visit Palmer Station, an American research post on the Antarctica Peninsula as well as a chance to see icebergs, leopard seals, whales and penguins close-up. I’ll remember the trip forever.

However, the second trip was even more impactful – I flew into the Union Glacier Camp onboard a massive Russian Ilyushin cargo plane and then continued with a small Otter to the base of Mount Vinson. On the way you see hundreds of mountains, most of which no-one has ever set foot on.

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have done an amazing job in mapping the topology of Antarctica underneath the ice and National Geographic has put together a cool image allowing the viewer to discover what’s underneath the ice themselves. See it here!

I find Antarctica extremely fascinating and dream of following the footsteps of Roald Amundsen and skiing unsupported to the South Pole, an expedition of approximately two months as well as exploring some of those unclimbed mountains and making some first ascents, which also entitle the expedition to name the mountain.

 

The Biggest Mystery on Everest

The biggest mystery that continues to interest people regarding Mount Everest is no doubt the faith of the summit attempt of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine on June 8th, 1924 – almost 30 years before Everest was officially conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Mallory and Irvine, part of a British Mount Everest Expedition, had set off from their high camp at roughly 8,200m on the North Ridge of Everest and at 12:50 they had been seen less than 300 meters from the summit – just before disappearing into a pre-monsoon snow storm and only to reappear in the pages of history.

In 1999, the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition was organised to discover evidence of whether Mallory and Irvine had reached the summit during their June 8-9th attempt or not.

The expedition was organised and led by IMG founder Eric Simonson and based on the research of Jochen Hemmleb, who had identified an area in which he expected to find both Irvine’s body along with a camera, which, had the pair been successful, should contain a summit photo.

Within hours of beginning the search on May 1st, Conrad Anker found a body on the North Face, at 8,155m, but to everyone’s surprise it turned out to be Mallory, not Irvine.

Mallory’s body was found well-preserved only an hour or two from the safety of where their camp had been. However, the biggest news was created by what was missing. Mallory had carried a photograph of his wife Ruth with him, which he had planned to place on the summit in the event of success – but it was no longer part of his possessions.

No-one apart from Mallory and Irvine knows what really happened on June 8th, 1924 and until Irvine’s body and more importantly, his Vest-Pocket Kodak camera is found, the faith of their expedition will continue to split opinions.

 

 

2013 Everest Season Recap

This year was always going to be special – after all it’s the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

With big expectations 29 teams consisting of 315 climbing permit holders approached Everest from Nepal (the South Col Route) and 10 teams consisting of 100 climbing permit holders from China (the North Ridge Route).

 

There was unprecedented coordination of climbing and summit push strategies between teams – everyone keen to avoid the traffic jams of last season on both the Lhotse Face and the Hillary Step, which I had experienced first-hand.

Fortunately, this season was also characterized by a long summit window, from May 17-25th, with excellent weather. This, along with the coordination between teams ensured that most climbers avoided major traffic jams during their summit pushes and based on latest count almost 190 climbing license holders reached the summit – reflecting a 44% success rate.

Among those successful was Dave Hahn, who recorded an amazing 15th summit – a record for a non-sherpa climber. The Sherpa record of 21 summits is shared between Phurba Tashi and Apa Sherpa.

Another noteworthy achievement this season was 80 year old Yuichiro Miura from Japan becoming the oldest person to summit Everest. Amazing feat!

Unfortunately, this season will also be remembered for negative things. Nine climbers lost their lives during the season, just shy of last year, which turned into the second deadliest in history. Among the deaths was very experienced and much liked Alexi Bolotov from Russia.

The season will also be remembered for a fight that took place in Camp 2, at 6500m, on the South side, between Simone Moro and Ueli Steck and a group of Nepali Sherpa – triggered by an unnecessary incident above 7000m on the Lhotse Face. Much has been written about the incident, so I will only state that the resulting negative publicity towards mountaineering across the globe was unfortunate and will take long to erase from the minds of the general public.

Image by Justin Merle.