SHARING AND EXPERIENCING THE MOUNTAINS
Experiencing the mountains, being mountaineers or climbers, often means having a double sense of self. One is more solitary and intimate, constantly seeking its own personal objectives, its own freedom. The other, on the other hand, is more open to sharing life’s moments and intense adventures, experienced firsthand in a group or couple, or through the experience that mountaineers can share via the communication means available today.
They are two sides of the same coin that Magdalena and Leonardo know all too well. Both personally nurture an overwhelming passion for the mountains, yet each has their own objectives and interpretations. At the same time, Magda and Leo are a couple in real life, one that loves to share the mountains by spending time there and embarking on adventures and tackling challenges. They call it condi-vivere, sharing and experiencing. Yep, because on the one hand there is the love that binds them and leads them to experience many moments that would normally be associated with the more solitary side of mountaineering or rock climbing. On the other, there is the visceral love that both have for climbing and the rock face, for the mountains in general, one that is so strong that, sometimes, it almost appears to be the one true love of both of them. The one that unites them even more.
Leo, a mountaineer and climber, and Magda, a climber and an influencer, are both people who excel at sharing their passions with one another and with others, thanks to the use of social networks - real tools of the trade - as well as being introverted and discrete when it comes to more personal aspects and relationships. Today they are both athletes on the Salewa People Team, even though they joined at different times and, as they are keen to point out, with very different roles. Let’s find out what they are.
Magdalena Mittersteiner is an athlete in her own right, before she is a Salewa Ambassador. As a child, she ran track races and entered artistic gymnastics competitions. Now she climbs hard, cycles until she passes out and takes flight with a paraglider. Her mountain escapades are followed by her almost 80,000 followers on Instagram, but she doesn’t turn her nose up at anyone. Quite the opposite. She displays a degree of humility that has almost been forgotten in the times we live in.
Leonardo Gheza, or Leo, on the other hand, is a mountaineer and an academic for the CAI (the Italian Alpine Club). His mountaineering CV has been bolstered in recent years, since he decided to “stop working like a mule” (his words) and commit himself to making mountaineering his profession. Call him crazy if you want, but it takes guts to make certain decisions. Leo’s got them in spades. Over the last four years he’s opened up new routes in Patagonia, Karakoram and the Himalayas. It goes without saying that they’re all top-level routes and (again, according to him) “each one is better than the last”. From the way he tells me this, I’m inclined to believe him.
They met at the foot of one of the most beautiful mountains on the entire alpine arc: the south face of the Marmolada. Then they started heading to the mountains together, to get to know one another, to climb, until - just last winter - they reached the peak of Aguja Guillaumet and Cerro Trinidad, in Patagonia. Currently they share (sorry, they share and experience) the mountains - although not always. In fact, Leo and Magda talk about the mountains differently, sometimes even in terms that are at odds with one another, essentially as if they had climbed different mountains. As if, within the same story of adventure, they themselves were different mountains. After all, isn’t that the case with every mountain?
After all, when it comes to relationships, we’re always repeating the old saying that “opposites attract”, right?
Be they an athlete in the strictest sense of the word or influencer, both still hold a healthy ambition to live their lives by pursuing a single purpose. And their purpose is the mountains. The mountains guide them, attract them, connect them and seduce them. And while Leo views the mountains from a mountaineering and professional perspective, Magda sees the mountains through a more experiential lens, one that is slightly more within reach of people who love the mountains, sharing aspects that make the mountains accessible to others through her social media channels also. While through his endeavours Leo is able to inspire many people with a model of mountaineering, to challenge themselves to reach their goals, Magda brings the mountains closer to the people. Two different ways of inspiring, two different ways of experiencing the mountains, yet always with devotion, respect, training and great commitment, which experiencing a passion such as this demands.
Their compromise? To each experience the mountains in their own way and, when possible, to come back and share them with one another: Leo organises exhibitions around the world, together with pro mountaineers, while Magda embarks upon less extreme, yet just as adventurous experiences. Sometimes far apart perhaps, yet always to come back together, closer than ever. And if two people who share, or rather share and experience, two types of visceral love tell us so, who are we not to believe them.
After all, what is love?
“Chiedetelo al vento” - ask the wind - as the song goes.