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What I Learnt Climbing Matterhorn

I am yet to share a personal story here but this one certainly feels like a good place to start.


A couple of weeks ago I climbed Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the world. It was possibly my best mountain experience to date for so many reasons but the biggest being the lessons that I learnt.


The kind of lessons that I hadn’t learned anywhere else despite having done well over 34 high altitude climbs, treks and expeditions around the world.


And today, I’d love to share one of those lessons with you - a lesson on perfection and the standards we set ourselves in high altitude environments.


how to climb matterhorn

My story with Matterhorn took three years to unfold - The first year, we had to cancel it because the conditions were terrible and unsafe. The second year, my trusted guide and the only person I’d climb Matterhorn with, was expecting the arrival of his baby girl the week we had our dates set so for a second time, the trip was cancelled.


In the third attempt, my Matterhorn saga was once again on the brink of cancellation. This time, the Italian side's mountain hut was undergoing renovations, presenting us with these options:

  1. Ascend & descend over 2,100m of technical climbing on the Italian side in a single day.

  2. Climb on the Swiss side, acknowledging the high likelihood of congestion and consequent dangers due to rockfall and potential traffic jams.

  3. Cancel Matterhorn. Again.


Option one and three were out of the question, which left us with option two. It wasn’t ideal but a part of me refused to admit defeat yet again without even trying and so we reluctantly embraced option two.


training for matterhorn

A few weeks later, my guide proposed an exciting twist - to traverse Matterhorn. That would mean that we’d ascend on the Swiss side and descend on the Italian side. He had never done it before which made the whole thing that much more exciting and unknown.


While this choice guaranteed escaping the traffic jams and the risk of overcrowding on the Swiss descent, it also meant I wouldn’t have seen the Italian side during the ascent, leading to a partially blind descent through abseiling. The pros outweighed the cons and the plan was set.


Finally, the weather Gods, life and everything around it fell into perfect alignment and I found myself at the base of Matterhorn on the Swiss side, staring up at her East face and the route we’d be climbing. While staring up at the immense ridge line, it occurred to me that the goal of the climb was not to summit but to make every single move, from start to finish, absolutely perfect. To climb in perfection because the truth is, for a peak like Matterhorn, there is no room for error.


Given her sheer precipices, unstable rocks and the congested single track to the summit, there was no room for anything less than perfect. I wanted a perfect climb which meant every move, every thought, every breath, every reaction would have to be perfect. Nothing less.


And that is exactly what I did.


I climbed to the absolute best of my ability from the moment I stepped out the Hornli Hut at 4:20am to the moment I stepped foot in the hut on the Italian side, in complete and utter perfection.


how to climb matterhorn

The reason why this mental approach worked for me (and will do for you too) is because I set the standard of what I wanted to experience and how I was going to make that happen.


This technique, while simple, is profoundly potent and you can adopt it too.

Start by defining what perfection is for you and your expedition. What does that look like for you?

What would be your most ideal outcome/experience - not the summit or end of the trek but instead, everything in-between.


How do you want to move? How do you want to feel and think?


Doing this simple exercise and answering these questions means you set the standard of what you want to experience and can then take action to make it happen.

But if you don’t ever take the time to define what perfection is for YOU then you’ll never know what it is or how it feels.


The thing about climbing mountains is that it is 80% in your mind. You could be the fittest person in the world but if your mind isn’t right and your thoughts, actions and reactions aren’t in alignment then you’ll only ever climb/trek at 20% of what you’re truly capable of.

You are capable of perfection for your next high altitude adventure.

Perfection in your fitness, endurance, gear, mindset and overall experience.


And I’d love to show you how.


training for matterhorn

All it takes is one conversation, focused on you, your biggest concerns and how we can move you from your start to your summit in a mountain specific way so that you are moving, feeling and thinking at 100% of what you’re capable of. Hit the button below and book a time to talk. You’ll be amazed at the difference one single conversation can make.

training for matterhorn

Can I tell you a simple truth? You can be unbreakable, if you choose.


That choice starts with setting your standard and then finding someone to help you make it a reality. I’m here for you and the moment you decide to be unbreakable.

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