DATE OF BIRTH: 08/11/1956
ACTIVITY: MOUNTAINEER & CLIMBER
My parents both grew up in Eisacktal, high up on the mountain-side, and after the chaos of war had passed, they decided to opt for a supposedly better life in the small town of Sterzing. Every weekend, however, they trekked up to the mountains with us children. Mountains were strewn with forests and pastures, cre-ating a kind of natural barrier for my family. I was happier there, more free and more independent than I felt down in the valley below. Seeing as my older sister and my mum were both intent on keeping a close eye on me, I had to climb higher in order to find a place just for me, where I often disappeared unsupervised for hours at a time. This way of thinking was how everything began and it had very little to do with climbing mountains and even less to do with the mountains themselves. They were simply a place I could be where others were not. Later on, when I left home to set out on my own, this remained exactly the same.
After school had finished for the day, I became something of an American Indian, or in other words, a wanderer, who by climb-ing mountains had put together a map of all the mountains sur-rounding home. One time, I managed to convince two other friends to accompany me on one of these mapping excursions. Peitler Kofel was to be my first mountain in the Dolomites, a peak which, seen from the mountains around my home, created both a bizarre and also an enticing horizon. We took the train to Brixen and then walked to Plose. The train ride had already swallowed all our lift pass money. On our way towards Würz-joch, we spent a chilly night in a hay barn, albeit without any hay, split our food and had to huddle up close to each other. When the next day came, there were some breathtaking mo-ments on the rocks at the summit. Every man for himself, and yet not alone! That's what I was looking for. That was a kind of happiness.
What do you do in your free time? Climbing and mountaineering like there's no tomorrow. Every now and then I take some time out for my second passion - the fine arts, exhibitions and art events, but just as an observer. I al-so count literature as part of this passion.
Mostly the place where I am not right now.
There are too many! "A Whole Life" by Robert Seethaler is one of my top ten.
For me, fear is a friend - a form of reassurance. It helps me to make decisions. I often take the right path, but sometimes I also choose the wrong one.
Mostly during the afternoons after art school in Val Gardena, I would get out alone and take on steeper and steeper faces of ice, as well as rock faces, which would become even longer and even more complex with each attempt. On one of these occa-sions, I tackled the Fedele on the northwest face of Sass Pordoi. However, as a relative newbie to climbing, I hadn't considered that the chimney to descend on this route would be completely iced over in late autumn. And so, at 600 metres above the ground, a new kind of fear swept over me - the fear of dying. I didn't have a rope, I didn't have anything - I was stuck. Contin-uing to climb was out of the question - I would have hit my lim-its at this level of difficulty even in normal conditions, and that's when making an ascent. Before I was at all capable of thinking rationally, my feet and hands began to make the descent. A kind of fearlessness came over me. As if in some sort of trance, I climbed the entire route back down in no time at all, without making any wrong moves and without a doubt that I would make it before darkness moved in. Later came Patagonia, the Himalayas, the Andes and Yosemite and I also became a qualified mountain guide. But there are hardly any other moments that have remained so firmly embed-ded in my consciousness as the one on that Dolomite rock face as the sun was setting. It was then that I became aware of the fact that there was a well of unknown strength deep inside me that I could always tap into.