|Place of residence:||Northern Spain, Chamonix and my tent|
|Arm length:||176 cm|
|With EDELRID since:||January 1st, 2015|
|Sponsors:||EDELRID, The North Face, Lowa, Vivalpin|
My dad introduced me to the mountains when I was 7. That's how it all started... I stopped when I was 12 because I was too afraid of heights. When I was 14, I decided to start again, because I noticed that something was missing. I was never that into typical team sports. I feel at home mountaineering and climbing and I found something that continues to motivate me to this day. Personal challenge forms a large part of my motivation.
To be honest, I didn't have any heroes who I wanted to copy. But I am inspired by certain individual accounts. For example, Herman Buhl or Habeler/Messner expeditions.
If I am, I don't assign myself this role. I don't conduct myself any differently, now that I might be a role model. I think that it's important to be honest and show respect for others, including their achievements and points of view, whether mountaineering-related or in general. I try to live my life according to the motto that you should always be honest and remain true to yourself. I hope that this is acknowledged and appreciated by others. Ultimately, I hope that other people are inspired by my actions to go out and experience their own adventures.
My time with the German Alpine Club expedition team (DAV Expedkader) was really important – although I only realized this later on. That was back in 1999-2001. It helped me lay important foundations, including my future choice of career as a mountain guide. I also met some great people and made some good friends, such as Michi Wärthl or Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits.
Other important milestones were often moments and experiences that proved decisive. I recognized some of them as such as they took place, while others only became apparent at a later stage.
I can still clearly recall the night we spent on Cholatse, at 6000m. We bivouacked in a snow hole and then climbed to the summit as dawn broke. Or the descent from the summit of Dhaulagiri back to base camp, without any further nights on the mountain.
These experiences taught me what I was capable of and how far you can push yourself.
Without a doubt, the events on Ama Dablam. We'd reached the summit, but couldn't make it back down on our own. During our rescue, the helicopter was involved in a terrible accident. Many people have helped me to try to come to terms with what happened, from the trainers at Air Zermatt to the families of the two helicopter pilots who died. The incredible friendship shown to me by the pilots' families continues to help me to this day –it is a product of my darkest times, but it has turned into something rather wonderful. The events on Ama Dablam will always remain with me. I am not proud of what happened. It is something I will never forget.
I don't have a best-ever climbing experience. There are just too many of them. One that ranks right up there was standing on the summit of Makalu with my best friend. Or climbing for the first time in the Picos de Europa with my father (who was 74) and my girlfriend... It was an unforgettable day.
I try to maintain a good balance to remain strong in all the different disciplines. However, it's not easy to combine climbing at a high standard with expeditions and endurance training. I'm definitely making compromises when it comes to climbing at the moment. This means that I'm doing lots of endurance training: running, road cycling and/or skiing in winter. Generally, I train for 6-7 days and then take a rest day. If there is an expedition coming up, I increase the endurance training.
Having a concrete goal helps motivate me to train properly. But some people are disciplined enough to train hard anyway. You have to find what suits you best.
Climbing gyms are a café and ideal training camp all rolled into one. Perfect for getting strong fast, which can be useful when there's an expedition just around the corner. Although, I naturally prefer to climb outdoors.
One arm – no. One arm and one finger, still no.
If by success, you mean having the biggest sponsorship deals and the highest media profile, then climbing ability is not always the deciding factor. There are people who know how to play the system and who are more successful. Not always, but often. However, I see success as something that each of us has to define for ourselves.
It takes a particular attitude to achieve these goals. Although, this has more to do with the ability to be able to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Nobody can just go out and climb the North Face of the Eiger. In the same way, no one can simply pick up a violin and start to play it. Both require training and patience. If you have these things, then you can achieve your goals. Talent can help, it means you achieve certain things faster or more easily.
I couldn't imagine life without targets. I need goals to train. Otherwise I would find it hard to motivate myself. Developing new objectives and dreaming of new projects is an important and beautiful part of my life as a mountaineer. My most important goal is to remain healthy and keep enjoying my mountaineering. Not to have too much of a good thing. With long expeditions in particular, it's important not to do too many too close together. You can end up burned out. I also maintain a strict separation between my work as a mountain guide and my personal climbing.
In life, I don't have any major life goals, such as climbing all 8000ers or climbing this or that grade. I've always felt that goals line up next to each another, like beads on a necklace. One goal then leads to the next. I'm excited about this journey. This doesn't mean that I wait to see where life will take me. My goals are carefully chosen. However, they tend not to be too far off.
As far as everyday life is concerned, my goal is to experience as much of the world and to climb in its mountains as much as possible. And to share these experiences with friends. We shall see where it all leads.
There is bound to be – especially in mountaineering – significant advances as "athletes" start to train specifically for this discipline. At present, people tend to be either endurance experts or climbers, who reach a certain age and then acquire the additional skills. I see the potential in my young DAV Expedkader climbers. They might not be that interested in long endurance training sessions – I was the same when I was their age. But now that both technique and endurance are being trained from an early age, pair this with natural talent and there are bound to be advances.
It will be interesting to see what's possible.