Today I’d like to share with you a story I wrote 3 years ago, as a special recognition for guides and to celebrate the amazing work done by the guides of the Master Key Experience (MKE). Special recognition guides.
The story is about my relationship with Pierre, my mountain guide who is bringing me every year in the most beautiful places in the Alps.
I wrote this text on the 13th of September 2018, caulked in the small refuge we had reached in the afternoon after coming back from the ascent of Mont Viso.
Here is the story:
Today, I did the climbing of Mont Viso (3841m), the highest mountain of the Southern Italian Alps.
My guide Pierre has got his mountain guide diploma 40 years ago, needless to say that he has a great experience of the mountain!
This is the third year he brings me to different places and mountains that I like very much.
The Role of the Mountain Guide
Pierre’s role as a guide is simple, yet difficult to achieve: to ensure the security of his client while allowing him the greatest possible experience.
The responsibility of the guide is therefore to assess the capabilities of his client then to bring him to places he can reach safely, preferably close to his limits.
If the guide underestimates his client, he will not allow him to do fully enjoyable courses in the mountains.
But if he overestimates his client, the guide is exposing his client and himself to deadly accidents.
This is what makes the activity of the guide a very specialized and skillful exercise.
The pleasure of the guide comes directly from the enjoyment of his client during the course.
For me, the joy is at its maximum when I can connect with the nature to a deep level and in the same time surpass my physical and mental abilities.
This year I have been gifted by the gorgeous landscapes around Mont Viso, and by the special energy emanating from the mountain: Mont Viso nickname is the “Stone Giant”.
Its climbing is technically easy, but the high elevation of the mountain requires a good level of physical training to take in the 10 hours of hard uphill and downhill walks in a difficult rocky environment.
Learning a New Skill
Every year, Pierre teaches me some new skills, and this time I have been very lucky as he taught me a fundamental skill of mountaineering: how to walk well in a mountain environment. I appreciate how critical he is to my growing in this area and so I share special recognition for guides who work hard to pass important skills.
As in all human activities, the basics are the most important to acquire, and one of the basics in mountaineering is to carefully choose how and where to put each foot during the walk.
This skill takes years of practice, and the difference between someone who masters it and someone who doesn’t is the speed at which he burns his energy during the walk, hence the distance he can travel.
We had left the refuge at 5:30AM, walking in the dark with our head lights, and the ground quickly became very challenging, with rocks of all sizes intertwined chaotically.
I had to use all my attention to jump from one rock to another without slipping or falling into a hole.
My two sticks helped me to keep my equilibrium, but I was using a lot of physical and mental energy to keep the pace of Pierre, who was progressing slowly and steadily.
It didn’t take long for Pierre to realize what was going on behind him, and he said without turning around, “Try to put your feet in mine.”
To follow his advice, I focused my head light on his feet, and started to concentrate on remembering the exact place he was putting each foot; after a few minutes, I was able to duplicate exactly the walk of Pierre, using the exact same spot he was using at each step.
The result was stunning: I quickly felt a better equilibrium and in less than 5 minutes my breathing and my heart pulses had completely calmed down.
I was doing less effort and walking more efficiently.
On the other hand, each time I lost the connection with Pierre, I started instantly to make more effort to progress, hence burning more energy.
An Invaluable Lesson Learned
As I was concentrated on the walk, I started thinking about a way to analyze the walk of Pierre, but I quickly realized it was the wrong approach: for each step. There are about 100 reasons why the foot should go to a given spot, and not 2 inches more to the left or to the right, upfront or behind.
For Pierre, the art of finding the right spot at each step was a result of 40 years of practice, and the mind has but very little influence in this kind of experience.
I soon realized that it was mainly the body which was the real creator of the skill.
By duplicating Pierre’s walk on thousands of steps, I didn’t have to concentrate anymore to stay in his steps, and the art of choosing the right spot was progressively passing from Pierre’s body to mine. I was appreciating his skill and in heart was feeling special recognition for guides who are so dedicated.
Of course, the 10 hours of the course were not enough for my body to acquire Pierre’s 40 years of experience, but I had received, and more importantly experienced, an invaluable lesson during this mountain hike: how to walk well in the mountains, and the incredible wisdom and intelligence of the body.
Back to the MKE – Special Recognition for Guides
If you are an MKE guide or have been in an MKE class and have had a guide, I am sure you have noticed some strong similarities between guides on the mountain and guides in the MKE.
- In the MKE, an important guide role is understanding Tribe members’ Dharma, and knowing them well enough to understand what they are looking for, and how to guide them there without interfering with their personal learning experience.
- If you are a member of the MKE in the middle of your Hero’s Journey, know that your guide has your back and will help you reach the highest region you were determined to reach when you started.
For those who think that a mountain guide has a bigger responsibility toward his clients because physical death is at stake in case of mistake, consider this: what if an MKE member refuses the call and definitively loses the connection with his Inner Voice, his Higher Self? Would this not be a “spiritual death”?
And which kind of death could well be the “most serious”, physical or spiritual? It’s up to each one of us to answer that question.
MKE guides cannot make themselves responsible for the decisions of members, but they can surely guide them wisely to stay always in contact with their Inner Voice! Click here to take advantage of having one of these incredible guides in your life!