The outstanding free-climb of El Cap’s “Dawn Wall” and its echo

Much has been written about a climb that has been accomplished on El Cap in Yosemite on January 14th by Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell. It echoed even in larger media such as wide-read newspapers and was highly debated, too, since dimension and style of their climb were not comprehensible for everyone.

El Capitán. Source: Wikipedia

The climb was topping year-long efforts, which consisted basically of figuring out a climbable route and preparing it – and themselves, of course. They accomplished the first free-climb of the Dawn Wall ever. It has “pushed climbing forward”, was one of the frequent statements, as expressed for example in an article that’s very worth reading on National Geographic‘s Adventure Blog. The climb was remarkable in several aspects. Continue reading

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BMC: Mountaineering on the up and “This Girl Can”

The British Mountain Club (=equivalent to German Alpine Club DAV) reports that »Mountaineering is among the sports showing an increase in participation, according to the latest figures published by Sport England in its annual survey of the nation’s sporting habits.«

They say that in England, according to the “Active People Survey“, 93,000 people go mountaineering on a weekly basis. Also disabled people show an increase in mountaineering activity. Remarkably about that is a BMC Paraclimbing series.

However, numbers of women in mountaineering declined. And the gender gap in sports activities is reported to remain big.

But regarding the latter, industry, sports lobbies and the state are not passive. Sport England (which is probably an alloy of the three) have set up a campaign to do something about the declining numbers of women in sports. It’s called “This Girl Can” and with images of shaking fat pads and slogans like “I jiggle, therefore I am” aims on encouraging (more) women to do sports.

Encourage women to do sports? Don’t they do so already? Should they, at all? Or do they even have to?

And the most important question: WHY???

This Girl Can is here to inspire women to
wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement
is a barrier that can be overcome.

Meet the stars of our campaign
who are doing what they do,
and letting nothing (not even sweat)
stand in their way.

I am still wondering if I should take this serious while I already hear me saying: Oh. My. God.

But let’s think about it for a second. It’s about judgment…

No, it seems I can’t think any longer. Immediately more questions raise inside me. I am also wondering: When will finally the long-desired stately campagin that encourages seniors to engage more in ceramics follow? And a campaign that rewards youngsters who start acting, a stately campaign to encourage coal mine workers to learn playing wind instruments, high-school teachers to occupy themselves more with whole-grain flours and disabled people to go to contemporary art museums and the one that gives incentives to bloggers to include more comparising literature analysis into their articles. And most importantly, a campaign that helps people quitting their sports, by basically telling them: »You’re okay – even when you don’t exercise!« and which of course could not only rely on fancy videos but necessarily would have to include psychological support?

This is soooooo…. let me just think of a word…..

It’s not that I am against empowerment of women. The Opposite! But why can’t girls – no, why can’t people – decide on their own, whether they want to do sports or not? Do they really have to be pushed to doing sports?

Also check out: “This Girl Can Climb”

…..stupid.

 

 

“If you don’t want it to keep going, you’ve done.” Interview with Steph Davis

 At the International Mountain Summit 2014 I had the opportunity to have an interview with Steph Davis, US American Climber and BASE Jumper, one of the bright lights of female alpinism. At the IMS she gave an awe-inspiring talk about her life and her career. She was the first woman to climb Salathé Wall on El Capitan, free-soloed Castleton Tower North Face, Utah (probably first female free-solo in 5.11b), was the first woman to summit Torre Egger and the first American woman to summit Fitzroy, both in Patagonia. She published books which deal with problems she had to struggle with in her career such as overcoming fear in climbing and base-jumping as well as emotional set-backs like the death of her former partner. We talked about that and aspects of her strong personality as well as about media and literature.

steph davis

At the IMS, you participated in a discussion about the role of media and publicity in alpinism and climbing. What role do discussions like those play in your own activities? Are you interested or rather far away from that?

Well, the media is how I make my living. And so I find it a very positive force. If I had a lot of money by myself I probably wouldn’t do anything with the media. But I don’t have, so it’s important in my job which is partly interacting, creating media, to create something, and to share. I think it’s a powerful force and you can either be like a victim and be afraid of it or you can try to learn and be a part of it and understand how to work with it. And as a climber the only value that you could be paid for is to create something or to give something back. So that’s why we need the media and we have to work with it and create things.

You also said you like social media, too, for creating community. Can you explain that? What do you mean by community? Continue reading

Interview with Ueli Steck

As promised, here is the English translation of the interview I led with Ueli Steck one year ago at the IMS in Brixen. It’s the translation of the shorter version as it appeared in ALPIN. At first, I talked with him about an incident at Mount Everest, in which he was violently attacked by sherpas in an angry dispute.

After the incident at Mount Everest you departed immediately. How did you continue after the return?

It was all just too much! You have to imagine: journalists knock at your door at eight in the morning, demanding an interview. But I am not keen on talking with them. They are just waiting for a chance to criticize you. I seriously considered to jack it all in, to go climbing only for myself. Period.

On your website you expressed your disappointment about the happenings at Everest. How has that incident changed you?

It has changed all my life. It’s hard for me since, to get involved with people. A lot of confidence is lost and will not come back very soon. I am so sick of the entire mechanism of the media that started afterwards. I will never forget that and I cannot undo that. But now it has happened and I have to deal with it.

After all the discussing, your record ascent on Mont Blanc came like a coup.

Maybe. But after Everest I was not keen on talking with anyone. The problem is that I can’t just hide. At Mont-Blanc I was just climbing and had a fantastic day. It wasn’t about the records. In the last time everything is being reduced to records. But what’s the difference in whether you take 16 or 17 hours? It very much depends on the conditions. For me the decisive point was: to start in Courmayeur, to go via Peuterey (to the summit of Mt. Blanc, t.a.) and on the other side back down into the valley – if possible, in one day. I didn’t want it to become a matter of record-hunting again, so I downplayed the story a little bit.

Was there pressure by the sponsors?

There certainly is pressure, we must not blandish anything here. If you want sponsors you have to achieve something. Otherwise you won’t get another contract in the next negotiations. And often I have to slow the sponsors down a bit. Of course, they want to see something immediately. You are talking to marketing people there and as an athlete you have to be careful.

Nevertheless you had decided relatively soon to return to Nepal and with Annapurna to try an 8000m peak.

Sure, after Everest there were doubts. But the experience on Peuterey did show me: climbing is what brings fun to me. I thought, if I stop climbing now, then everything goes down with me.

And Annapurna has been a project for me already for a long time. But one thing I certainly know now, too: I only go climbing for myself and everyone can form his opinion about that.

Have you had the thought of quitting your career as early as, for example, Walter Bonatti?

After the Everest incident of course there were thoughts like “Now I’m completely fed up”. But I knew: If I quit in a moment like that, I would blame myself for the rest of my life. Walter Bonatti was an idol for me – he said: “Now I have reached my zenith and now I quit.”

Admirable.

That’s admirable, in fact! And I think that’s what is missing in alpinism. There are many climbers who have in a way reached their zenith and extend their career artificially. I want to avoid that. Mountaineering is not a competitive sports. When as a hundred meter sprinter don’t bring your performance you just don’t get to the finale. But in mountaineering you still can sell an expedition as an act of madness. And a climb like that on Annapurna can’t be done ten times, you won’t survive that. Bonatti moved within a range of which he knew: If I continue here, this will go wrong.

Steve House, too, has accepted that now, I think. I don’t want to put the words in his mouth, but for his achievement in 2005 on Nanga Parbat he had worked a lot. And that was a gigantic success. But you will do something like that only once in a career. After that, you have to be able to put it behind and accept that.

What does that mean for you?

For me, that’s the point where I have to be careful. It doesn’t go on like that forever, I cannot enhance myself infinitely. And this could also mean that I want to protect myself. If you always act in this dangerous field, it will go wrong eventually.

IMS 2014 – Immenses Marketing Spektakel #6

Die 6. Ausgabe des innerhalb der letzten Jahre immens gewachsenen Marketing- und Medienspektakels des “International Mountain Summit” ist Anfang dieser Woche in Brixen zu Ende gegangen. Es gab wieder viele spannende Vorträge und Diskussionen. Hervorzuheben ist neben Veranstaltungen zu Doping im Bergsport und der Diskussion um Alpinismus und Publicity in der diesjährigen Ausgabe etwa ein Symposium mit dem Titel “Recht auf Berge”, in dem der Zugang zu den Bergen für Behinderte erörtert wurde.

Berge für alle? Recht auf Berge?

Erziehungswissenschaftler Dr. Sascha Plangger von der Uni Innsbruck sah in diesem Bereich v.a. Probleme bei der Kommunikation mit Behinderten. Viele Außenstehende würden Betroffenen vor allem mit Mitleid begegnen. Außerdem werde in den Medien sehr oft sensationslustig über Behinderte berichtet, die in den Bergen unterwegs sind. Dabei habe diese Darstellung nichts mit der Realität zu tun. Wichtig sei es stattdessen vor allem, den Einzelnen zu unterstützen und in seiner Freiheit und Teilhabe zu fördern.

Die in der Podiumsdiskussion aufgekommene Frage an Martin Telser, ob es von Seiten der Behindertenverbände eine Forderung oder den Wunsch nach einem Recht auf Zugänglichkeit der Berge für alle gibt, stellte sich für diesen gar nicht erst. Für Telser gibt es das Grundrecht auf Zugänglichkeit schon, nämlich als gesetzlich verankertes und als nur noch durch technische Verbesserungen zu erfüllendes. Das Potential für Verbesserungen sah er allerdings als vorhanden an. Auch der geladene Vertreter der Landesregierung meint, der “status quo” wäre diesbezgl. noch zu erreichen. Das Fazit: es sollte keine Scheu davor geben, auch als Behinderter in und auf die Berge zu gehen oder einen Anspruch darauf geltend zu machen. Außerdem solle man sich daran orientieren, wo entweder möglichst weitgehende freie Zugänglichkeit der Berge oder entsprechende Alternativen vorhanden seien.

IMS 2014 Kongress "Berge für alle"

IMS 2014 Kongress “Berge für alle” © Jürgen Kössler

Die Dachmarke Südtirol wirbt nicht explizit um Behinderte als Zielgruppe, da dies nicht notwendig sei. Ziel müsse eher sein, dass Interessierte bei ihrer Recherche, wie es der Marketing-Vertreter nannte: “Suchmaschinen-technisch” leichter auf Südtirol stoßen.

Wie ehrlich ist der Bergsport? Symposium zu Doping und Medikamentenmissbrauch

In der IMS Pressemitteilung hieß es hierzu: Continue reading

»Irgendwann geht das schief« – Interview mit Ueli Steck

Vor ziemlich genau einem Jahr hatte ich das Glück, Ueli Steck für ein Interview, das in ALPIN 3/2014 erschienen ist, zu seinen Erlebnissen im Himalaya befragen zu können. Damals war er gerade frisch von seiner Solo-Begehung der Annapurna Südwand (in 28 Stunden) zurück gekommen. Ein paar Wochen zuvor hatte er schon  in einer fantastischen Zeit von 16 Stunden den Mont Blanc von Courmayeur aus Richtung Chamonix über den kompletten Peuterey-Grat (“Peuterey Intégral”) überschritten. Welchen Stellenwert diese Begehung in seiner Karriere hatte und was sie für seine Zukunft bedeuten, über das Medienecho nach dem Sherpa-Streit am Everest und die Bedeutung des großen Risikos bei seinen Touren und sein zukünftiger Umgang damit, darüber gab er Auskunft, ebenso wie über den Druck von Sponsoren.

 

Im Mai 2013 gab es diesen Vorfall am Everest, bei dem einige aufgebrachte Sherpas dich und deinen Seilpartner Simone Moro körperlich angegriffen und mit dem Tod bedroht haben. In den Medien wurde das kontrovers diskutiert und du wurdest sehr kritisiert.

Einige Wochen später hast du den kompletten Peuterey-Grat am Mont Blanc (Peuterey Integral) bestiegen, auch in neuer Rekord-Zeit. Auf deiner Homepage war die Beschreibung eher witzig gehalten und von understatement geprägt. Aber ein kleiner Paukenschlag war diese Begehung ja schon. Wolltest du damit auch zeigen, dass es dich noch gibt und dass du dich nicht unterkriegen lässt von den schlechten Erfahrungen und von der negativen Presse, die nach dem Everest-Vorfall herrschte?

 

Nein, absolut nicht, ich war da einfach Bergsteigen und hatte einen fantastischen Tag.Ueli Steck

Außerdem wird in letzter Zeit alles auf diese Rekordzeiten reduziert!

Aber ob man da 16 Stunden oder 17 Stunden braucht ändert eigentlich nicht viel. Es hängt ja immer auch von den Bedingungen ab. Deshalb wollte ich nicht, dass es wieder so um diese Rekordjagd geht und habe es ein bisschen runtergespielt.

Es war für mich auch nicht entscheidend, diesen Rekord zu machen. Für mich war das wichtigste: in Courmayeur starten, über den Peuterey und wieder auf der anderen Seite ins Tal runter – wenn’s geht in einem Tag. Das ist großartig und ich hatte einen der besten Tage in meinem Leben.

Aber ich kann dir auch ehrlich sagen: nach dem Everest hatte ich keine Lust mehr Continue reading