The mountaineer Yoram Kraus almost found his death on the formidable Matterhorn mountain located in the Alps, and yet he intends to climb it again this year. Yoram Kraus, real estate and high-tech entrepreneur and founder and CEO of SMS Project Management, finds common values and principles between conquering mountain peaks and tackling challenges in the business sector. In this article, Kraus shares with us fascinating insights and dizzying climbing experiences from 5,000 meters above the ground.
Over the next year, Yoram Kraus plans to conquer the Matterhorn summit once again. It is one of the most dangerous mountains to climb, with a spectacular mountain peak overlooking the entire Alps, but on the way there many mountain climbers have found their death, over 500 people to be exact. Mount Matterhorn, located on the Swiss-Italian border, rises to a height of 4,478 meters and is built like a steep pyramid, making climbing it particularly difficult.
“The Matterhorn offers a unique challenge in relation to the other mountains that I have climbed so far. The ascent itself is very steep and very uneven, it is actually climbing a huge rock at a very sharp angle, a climbing experience for advanced and experienced mountaineers only, as the climbing axis requires deep knowledge of technical climbing, rock climbing, high level securing capabilities and a very high level of physical fitness.”
Tell us about the climb in which you nearly lost your life on the mountain
“In 2016 I climbed the Matterhorn together with my brother Moti, the journey to the summit of the Matterhorn is very short relative to the world of climbing and lasts about 6 hours, but it is a huge physical and mental challenge, rock climbing at an angle of almost 90 degrees and as such, it requires tremendous effort and experience. After long and continuous hours of climbing we managed to reach the summit, we remained on the summit for no more than ten minutes and started the descent, seeing as the wind is very strong at the peak and in addition, we had to maintain a high level of concentration and preserve energy for the descent of the mountain, which is no less dangerous than the ascent.”
“During the descent in an almost vertical section, I placed my foot on a stone ledge and suddenly it broke, and I started a free fall to the way down. It is important to state that even though I was tied to my partner, the speed of the fall could have disconnected me or my partner from existing security lines so it was clear to me that we were both in immediate danger of death. At some point during the fall, after trying to hold on to everything I could, luckily my foot got stuck in a groove in the rock, and I was able to stick the ax I was holding into another surface. In one moment, the free fall stopped and a disaster was avoided.”
What brings you to return to the same mountain on which you nearly lost your life?
A mountain climber does not climb in order to die, they climb to explore, discover new worlds, meet a challenge they have set for themselves and return home in peace. What I like about the challenge posed by mount Matterhorn is that there are many ways to climb it, whether from the Italian border, or from the Swiss and even in other ways, and each one offers a different challenge. It is true that on the mountain death lurks from every corner, but mountaineering is dealing with death by choice, you know exactly what process you are entering and this proximity to the danger of death, gives value to life. When you come down from the mountain you learn to appreciate things and you feel the passion for life and taking action.”
How do you deduce insights into professional life from the experiences on the mountain?
“As human beings, the experiences we go through are what shape us. When you climb a mountain and the air is diluted from oxygen, the temperature is below zero and the body faces extreme physical loads, this is where your personality begins to improve. You must survive and enlist for that matter all the skills and character traits that have shaped you as a person. Then when you descend from the mountain and return to the office, you utilize all the tools you have learned on the mountain and apply them in your personal and professional life. Values such as determination and perseverance, leadership, optimism and teamwork, all of these accompany you later in life and this is the true value of mountaineering. By the way, not every time you climb a mountain you reach the summit. One of the most important features of a mountaineer is the ability to make decisions, and one of the decisions I have often made during mountaineering is actually to get off the mountain, when the danger is too great and it is not worth risking life in order to achieve the summit. But I always go back to the mountain and finally conquer the summit. There is a very important value here that says there is no failure, there is learning and if the first time and even the second attempt you failed to meet the goal you set for yourself, you will meet it next time and what is important is not to stop trying. This is a value I take with me into my professional life as a CEO and entrepreneur in the real estate and high-tech fields.”
Yoram Kraus is the founder and CEO of SMS Project Management, a real estate developer and high-tech entrepreneur in the field of human-machine interaction. SMS has built the offices of huge companies such as Google, SAP, Hot, Bezeq and more. Kraus has lived and breathed the world of real estate and project management for nearly 20 years, over the years he has become one of the most sought-after professionals in the field and he adheres to principles from the world of mountain climbing into the organization he runs.
“The mountaineering process is very similar to the project building process, firstly, project planning is one of the most important components, just like the summit conquest planning process. You need to plan the axis of upward movement, the equipment needed, you need to try and anticipate the expected problems and possible alternatives, you need to prepare for any scenario. The better you plan the process of climbing a mountain, the better and safer the climbing experience will be, you will reach the summit and descend from it safely. Similarly, when building a project, it is very important to invest time and resources into planning, the more you plan the more you will meet the schedules and run a more cost-effective process. High expenses are often the result of a lack of planning. Next, when setting out to climb a mountain or build a project, it is important to exercise strict control all the way in relation to each and every component of the process. At SMS we run control and improvement processes throughout all phases of the project in order to maintain excellence and assess that we meet the time frame and budget constraints, and by constantly improving we reach excellence.”
Yoram Kraus has been climbing mountains around the world for over 20 years, during which he has climbed the Mont Blanc and Elbrus mountains in the Alps, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, the McKinley Peak in Alaska and other peaks in Asia and the South Pacific. Kraus also plans to climb in Antarctica and climb to the summit of Mount Everest, thus completing the “Seven Summits Challenge”, a climbing route that includes the seven highest peaks on seven continents around the world.”
How do you feel when you reach the peak of a mountain and how does it relate to completing a real estate project?
“When I look at the summit I have conquered and at the project I have set up, I feel a real sense of satisfaction, a feeling of victory, catharsis. There is something very similar between a mountain I am conquering and a project I am setting up, they are not inanimate objects to me, they are living organisms that are in constant motion. I always claim that “the mountain is alive”, I climbed several mountains several times and each time I met a different mountain, the snow conditions are different, the climbing axis is different, the weather, just like a living creature. The same applies in relation to project management, when you build an office, complete the construction, hand it over to the client and then come to visit, you see that a life has been created, people work in it, there is movement and dynamics and so in building a residence, people run their lives in it, and it fascinates me all time and time again and that is a very great privilege.”
“One of the most important values I learned from the experience of the Matterhorn and mountaineering in general, is the value of life, when you face the danger of death by choice, climb the mountain, climb to the summit and return safely to home and office, you relearn the desire to live, the passion for life, for creating and action. This is the secret to the magic of mountaineering, you mark a goal, work hard and reach it and conquering the summit is the result of hard work, determination and perseverance, and these are exactly the values I apply in life here at sea level.”
For further reading:
Yoram Kraus: This is How Mountaineering Made me a Better Manager