Lessons from Mountaineering to Lead the World into the Future

When meeting difficulties, always think of how awesome that sunrise will be after wandering in the cold and dark.


Thomas Vogel

4 months ago | 2 min read

When meeting difficulties, always think of how awesome that sunrise will be after wandering in the cold and dark.

Photo by Mike Markov on Unsplash

Alpine regions are the bell-weathers of climate change. The glaciers in Switzerland, my home country, melt at an unprecedented pace. In summertime, the melting water turns quiet mountain creeks into roaring torrents.

Far above those roaring torrents, I was climbing some high peaks in the Swiss alps this summer. Where you would normally find solid ice, I was walking on slush in a t-shirt. Where there was a glacier not too long ago, I tried to find my way through unstable moraines and crossing dangerous bergschrunds.

Mountaineering in summer 2022 has taught me some lessons I believe can help us to lead the world into the future, no matter on what territory you walk and what activity you follow.


The alpine world is changing so fast that cartographers and mountain guides can’t keep up with updating maps and trails. Mountaineers need to adapt fast to change. But just because the mountain landscape undergoes fast change, no mountaineer would ever give up mountaineering. Rather, mountaineers adapt flexibly to the conditions: Instead of insisting on a prestigious Matterhorn ascent, they might change their plans to undertake a climbing trip in an unknown side valley where the conditions are better.

The mountain landscape is not alone in undergoing rapid change. Our entire society changes more rapidly than many people notice. Be a mountaineer. Never give up what you are doing, but adapt to the conditions.

Solid Knowledge

Mountaineers need solid skills and experience in moving in different alpine terrain. Mountaineers use their judgment of the environment and the conditions for every ascent they make. The more experienced a mountaineer becomes, the more suitable he becomes to make decisions and lead a group of alpinists.

Would you ever climb the Matterhorn without a guide or an experienced alpinist? That would be insane.

Nevertheless, think of how many areas in life are led by people with absolutely no experience or knowledge in their areas. Be a mountaineer. Know what you don’t know, and team up with experienced people. It will be beneficial for you and the entire rope team.

Team Effort

Mountaineers never walk alone. They move in rope teams, knowing very well that they can only succeed or fail together. You can’t untie from your rope team on a difficult ridge in icy conditions, just to follow your individualism.

Rope leaders need to plan their route not just for the weather conditions, but also for the skills and fitness of the weakest member on their rope team.

How often do activities fail, just because somebody values individualism higher than the team? Mountaineering reminds us that all work is teamwork. You really can’t do anything alone.


Life in the mountains can be hard. While sometimes the weather is sunny, it is often cold and windy. Getting lost is not uncommon in today’s fast-changing mountain landscape, and enduring such setbacks is part of mountaineers’ life.

Being tied into a rope team, every mountaineer needs tenacity to move with the rope team, also if he suffers personally.

Think of daily life and its challenges. How often is it cold and windy, and you need to hang in to succeed? When meeting difficulties, always think of how awesome that sunrise will be after wandering in the cold and dark.

Sunrise over the Matterhorn, Switzerland (source: Andreas Schweizer via author)

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Created by

Thomas Vogel

Entrepreneur, engineer, enemy of all administrative hurdles, general staff officer, solar power advocate.







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