Mountain sports/02/14/2020

Kammerlander, Ondra, Jasper: How Legends See the Future of Mountain Climbing

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Hans Kammerlander wants to stop the "rape of the mountains", Robert Jasper wants to reduce the ecological footprint of the alpinists and Adam Ondra wants to pass on his love of nature to the indoor scene - climbing legends gave thought to the future of mountaineering at ISPO Munich.

Bergsteiger am Fels
How can mountaineering remain gentle on the mountains despite increasing popularity?

Hans Kammerlander is now 63 years old and has dropped out of the "alpine race". The mountaineering legend, who has conquered twelve of the 14 eight-thousand-metre peaks, is now the happiest when skiing and climbing in his native South Tyrol. Then Kammerlander sometimes feels the "summit happiness" again, which once motivated him to his exceptional career as a mountaineer in his youth.

"It's Not Alpinism Anymore, It's Tourism"

"The joy is back. In my life as a pro it was all about summit successes", Kammerlander explains at the ISPO Munich. The exceptional alpinist, who once attempted the first complete ski descent from Mt. Everest, finds today's mass ascent of the world's highest mountain terrible because of the rubbish and destruction of nature: "This is no longer alpinism, it's tourism. One must not go and rape the mountains."

Hans Kammerlander auf der ISPO Munich 2020.
Hans Kammerlander at the ISPO Munich 2020.
Image credit:
Messe München GmbH

Kammerlander: Help Instead of Egoism

Looking back on his experiences, Kammerlander finds that alpinists are often far too egoistic: "That is superfluous. And it's also about giving something back." That is why he and a group of friends are helping to support children in the home of most of the eight-thousanders in Nepal.

26 schools have already been built in this extremely poor country over the last 25 years. Kammerlander is not alone in this: Concern for the next generation is also driving ski stars such as Lindsey Vonn, Felix Neureuther and Aksel Lund Svindal.

Wielicki Denounces Self-Dramatization

However, the selfishness in the mountaineering scene is still on the rise, finds with Krzysztof Wielicki another experienced mountaineer. The Pole not only celebrated his 70th birthday at ISPO Munich but also the 40th anniversary of his historic winter ascent of Mt. Everest.

"What I have noticed in the meantime is that the climbers now go up the mountain alone, but then they don't continue to write the story of climbing, but their own personal story," says the man who climbed all eight-thousanders. In times of social media, it is indeed not only in the mountaineering scene that one's own self-portrayal is becoming increasingly important.

Krzysztof Wielicki auf der ISPO Munich 2020
Krzysztof Wielicki at the ISPO Munich 2020.
Image credit:
Messe München GmbH

Jasper: "Keep Your Ecological Footprint as Small as Possible"

Of course it is essential, especially for professional mountaineers, to monetize their unique experiences. According to extreme mountaineer Robert Jasper, however, the decisive factor here is that lectures, for example, convey above all a love of nature and the importance of the sustainability of alpinism: "We as mountaineers must also see to it that we keep our ecological footprint as small as possible. Especially in times of climate change, when glaciers are melting faster and faster.

Untouched Paths Instead of Well-Trodden Paths

Nevertheless, one of the world's best extreme mountaineers does not think much of bans. But the Black Forest is a living example that instead of climbing eight-thousand-metre peaks, which has become almost mainstream, you can still experience real adventures as a mountaineer.

After a solo Greenland expedition (2018) in a canoe, he returned from a tour in Patagonia a few weeks ago. Highlight of the four-member team there was the first non-stop ascent of Cerro Largo. Although "only" 2799 metres high, it is through terrain that has been virtually untouched by humans up to now.

Robert Jasper promotes sustainability in alpinism.
Image credit:
Messe München GmbH

"Live Real Adventures"

"On these white spots on the map, you can still live real adventures instead of always walking on well-trodden paths", said Jasper at ISPO Munich.

Kammerlander also thinks that for mountaineers, it should not be the number of summits that is decisive, but the new lines and undiscovered paths one has taken. A specialist in this is Adam Ondra, who was the first climber to climb a 9c route.

Ondra: "We Must Show People That They Have to Treat Nature Well"

The Czech man will most likely also compete in the 2020 Olympic Games when climbing celebrates its Olympic premiere.

"I think it will make climbing even more popular. We as a climbing community have a responsibility to show the people who come out of the climbing halls, how they should behave outdoors and that they are now in nature - and that they should treat it well".

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