The Grace of Learning

By Ken Wylie

The mountains show us what we need to learn.

Over the past 20 years I have made a continual effort toward developing a model for Human Hazard – Management based on lessons learned from the winter of 2003 in Canada. The La Traviata avalanche, that happened on January 20th 2003, took the lives of seven individuals: Craig Kelly, Vern Lunsford, Dave Finnerty, Dennis Yates, Kathy (Polucha) Kessler, Naomi Heffler, and Jean-luc Schwendener. The names of these individuals grace the steps in the 2003 Human Hazard – Management model and are a reminder for us to embody the higher aspects of the step, as these people did in their lives. Tragically, that year there was a second large avalanche that took the lives of seven youth from Strathcona Tweedsmuir School. The last step of the model is named Strathcona in memorial to Marissa Staddon, Jeff Tricket, Daniel Arato, Scott Broshko, Alex Pattillo, Ben Albert and Mike Shaw. The response to the tragedy of the Strathcona Avalanche elegantly followed the steps of the model to an elevated place in large part because of the courageous and grace filled efforts of many of the parents, Parks Canada and other members of the community.

2003 Human Hazard – Management Model
The journey of managing Human Hazard(s) is often a process of moving through fragmentation to wholeness or alignment. If we are savvy we recognize our fragmented state and elevate our approach to bring ourselves, others and the reality of the situation together into alignment before we expose ourselves to potential consequence. This allows us to participate with as many of our faculties as possible, giving us a better chance of making higher level choices.

Kelly Step – Denial to Acceptance

Moving through Denial related to details about ourselves, others, events, the situation and responsibility, to a place of Acceptance of all of these, allows us to respond to the current reality as it is, allowing a high degree of effectiveness with the actions we take.

Lunsford Step – Faint-hearted to Courage
Moving through our Faint Heartedness in social, intellectual, emotional, physical, and moral situations, to being Courageous gives us the freedom to take effective or corrective action.

Finnerty Step – Isolation to Connection
Traveling through a propensity to Isolate from the challenging details about oursleves, others and the situation and allowing all vulnerabilities to be seen, brings us to a place of Connection and alignment from where we can make the right next moves.

Yates Step – Insignificance to Self Awareness
Breaking the habit of rendering valuable aspects of ourselves Insignificant and becoming Self Aware of the vast human qualites we have the potential to exercise, completes our tool box and authenticates our perception of our true selves and bringing them online for managing difficult situations.

Polucha Step – Hubris to Grace
Taking steps through the arrogance and self riteousness of Hubris, to the humility, stewardship, and self control of Grace, opens our hearts and minds to receive the help of inspiration and guidance.

Heffler Step – Deception to Truth
Recognizing Deceptions we are nurturing about ourselves, others and the situation to find the Truth is critical decision making information and promotes trust.

Schwendener Step – Intellectualize to Intuition
Noticing the limits of the Intellect, and calling in help from our, and our team’s Intuition works to mitigate the hazard of convincing ourselves that a bad situation is okay.

Strathcona Step – Chaos / Peace
Within the Chaos of a situation we have the opportunity to to find the still point, the eye of the storm, step into it and respond effectively from a place of Peace.