High altitude climber Gerlinde Galtenbrunner.
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Archive Kaltenbrunner

"I would start meditation and yoga earlier in the next life".

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner
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... Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner sums up when asked what she would have done differently with the knowledge she has today. Apart from that, the high-altitude mountaineer and trained nurse looks back on her career with great satisfaction, gratitude and joy.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has climbed all 14 eight-thousanders without supplemental oxygen or high altitude porters. She is one of the most successful high-altitude mountaineers in the world. After her divorce from Ralf Dujmovits in 2015 - with whom she lived for part of the time in Germany - the native Upper Austrian returned to her homeland and lives at the tranquil Attersee. In addition to the mountains and nature, a vegan diet, meditation and yoga play a major role in her life - but she does not set great store by records.

ISPO.com: When you look back over the last decades. What counts as your personal highlights and what would you perhaps have done differently with the knowledge you have today?

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner: The first thing that comes to mind is K2 from the north side. To be able to take the last steps to the highest point of this mighty, beautiful mountain, to feel the sudden deep silence within me, the feeling of being one with everything, is certainly one of my absolute highlights and I am very grateful for it. Only with meditation and yoga I would start in the next life at a young age.

You have written mountain history - were there also times when you doubted your profession as a professional mountaineer?

No, I never doubted it. However, after the avalanche on Dhaulagiri, when I spent the night in a high camp tent again for the first time (on Broad Peak), I left the tent countless times at night to check whether we had pitched it in a really safe place. I developed a real compulsion to check and couldn't sleep. At that time I had to make a clear decision the next morning. Either I pack up my things and stop high altitude mountaineering or I consciously decide to trust in life again and to make the best possible decisions. I decided on the second.

Higher, further, faster - life as a professional climber has changed a lot in recent years. What advice do you have for young women who want to follow in your footsteps?

My recommendation to all young people is to feel completely within to recognize where their true abilities lie and whether they really want to follow this path from the bottom of their heart. Enthusiasm and dedication, willpower, discipline, patience as well as self-reflection are very good prerequisites to achieve one's goals - no matter in which area. Listening to your own intuition and the "healthy return" should always have the highest priority.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner im Interview
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Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner im portrait

The Upper Austrian grows up in Spital am Pyhrn, where the parish priest takes her on numerous mountain tours on Sundays after Mass. The priest Dr. Tischler's passion for the mountains transfers to the young Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and marks her entry into the world of the vertical. Her love of climbing also goes back to this time. While training as a nurse in Vienna, Kaltenbrunner uses every free minute for mountaineering and climbing. At the age of 23, she fulfills her biggest dream to date by climbing the Broad Peak pre-peak (8,027 m) in Pakistan.
The desire to climb more high mountains is ignited, and she starts putting her nurse's salary into expeditions. After climbing Nanga Parbat in 2003, which is her fifth peak above 8,000 meters, she makes a decision: The decision to become a professional mountaineer. With the ascent of the 8,611-meter K2, the second-highest mountain on earth (August 23, 2011), she is the third woman to have climbed all 14 eight-thousanders - and she is the first woman to have succeeded without supplemental oxygen. For the Upper Austrian, however, it is never about records – but about harmonious coexistence – with people and with nature. A mindful, respectful and loving approach to nature and all beings are the cornerstones of her life. In lectures and seminars she shares her experiences and wants to inspire.