My name is Christian Lutz and I'm head of Marketing Central Europe for Salewa. I originally come from Stuttgart, where I was fortunate enough to haven gotten to know the mountains as a child on summer nights and skiing in the winter.
After moving from London to Delhi, to Berlin, to Cologne, and after having completed my studies in sports science, one thing was clear: I wanted to work in the outdoor industry and live as close as possible to the mountains. These two cornerstones give me a sense of peace and vitality, whilst challenging me on my solo experiences, as well as in the company of others.
Over the past couple years, my passion for skiing and ski mountaineering has grown and my love for biking and trekking in the summer months hasn’t changed! For me, an important factor in every kind of sport is that combination of putting yourself under pressure, whilst taking on technical challenges, but most importantly to have fun while doing them! Especially when racing downhill at a fast pace!
I have spent a lot of time in the air recently, paragliding has really got me under its spell. I keep packing up my new paraglider again and again to reward the hard treks to the top of the mountain with a flight down into the valley below. The element of air is completely new to me. Paragliding involves a lot of completely new feelings for me, especially one of intensity. When you’re in the air, you’re at the mercy of your parachute and your skills.
I have managed to find a reliable and award-winning partner, (literally) with the owner of Freiraum flying school in Ruhpolding, Achim Joos. With them I can really push myself to my limits. The more I go paragliding, the more I feel as though I can trust my own ability.
My training started off with an in-depth study of theory, then moved on to the subject of equipment, then finally onto practicing! I learned how to lay out the wing, arrange the lines and put on the harness and manage the wing and lines. Lastly, I learned about the landing: laying down the wing, managing the lines and packing the wing away. What was next? - we made our way back up to the top of the practice slope.
Uplifting moments? - The first time you feel your feet lift off the ground is a damn good feeling. You just want more, more taking off, more gliding. The longing to ramp up this experience, to make it more intense, never stops growing. I was flying further and further, above the practice slope with every attempt, so my feet spent less and less time on the ground and more and more time soaring above it.
I managed to reach the second training phase during the introductory course, so I was able to reach 120 metres above the ground for the first time quickly. 1 minute of gliding time, felt like a long time in the air, but what a crazy feeling! I'm still far off that meditative state of relaxation when I’m in the air, but I blame that on getting my instructions via radio.
After phase one and two of training, I tried gliding at 650 metres for the first time at Unternberg in Ruhpolding. I didn't sleep well the night before, as excitement, nerves and reverence about the upcoming flight, kept me tossing and turning. I definitely didn't need an alarm clock that morning, as I was wide awake and full of energy for my 10:00 a.m. starting time.
I may have been ready to go at 10:00 a.m. but it became a waiting game. When would the wind be the best for taking off - Too strong, too weak, from the left or right? Ultimately, it is the wind that decides when you start gliding. On that day, I had to wait a total of two hours. Then THE moment finally came. Under the direction of my gliding teacher, I took my run-up and immediately took off high into the air - a bizarre and indescribable feeling. The feeling that's triggered when racing down a steep slope in the winter was something brand new to me.
Above me is just a flimsy piece of cloth and I'm controlling it with a few lines, as thin as telephone wires. I'm hanging on below and all I can do is put my trust in this flimsy piece of cloth. There's no turning back, I'm already in the air and the landing site is 500 metres below me.
Then I heard a motivating, reassuring voice over the radio: "Well done, Christian. Now just enjoy the ride". Thanks, Achim, that sure helps. I got lost in the moment, flying high in the air, in between what felt like Heaven and Earth. I was far away from everything.
Then came the landing. I was under the direction of the gliding teacher, so luckily the landing went exactly as planned. From here on out, I know that paragliding would be how I'd spend my free time. I wanted more of it. The sport is addictive!
Since my 650-meter flight, I bought myself a light wing and harness (Masala3 und BREEZE von Skywalk) which I use to go on the Unternberg, even during my training. I have passed my theory exam and I need around 15 more glides until I can take my practical test.
Although I'm practically still a gliding greenhorn, I’ve figured out my must-have piece of equipment for my hike-to-fly adventures - the Salewa Ortles Hybrid TirolWool Celliant Vest. I can use it for all kinds of sports, whether I'm going up or down the mountain, it’s extremely breathable, yet still provides excellent protection against the wind.