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Insiders Talk About Their Outdoor Season 2021

  • Johanna Stöckl
  • February 17, 2021

It was a difficult year for everyone. Outdoor professionals also look back on an eventful time. People who, like alpinists, bloggers or expedition leaders, live from being on the move, from mountaineering, climbing, hiking and earn their money with lectures about it. Despite all the breakdowns and restrictions, the fresh-air experts look to the future with serenity and confidence. Outdoor Society asked five insiders.


Michi Wohlleben, Alpinist

Michi Wohlleben is one of Germany's best alpinists. The 30-year-old professional climber lives with his family in a Swiss community on the border with Austria. "Corona made me feel insecure at first: health, family, the economic situation, hardly any training opportunities ..."

Over the months, the all-rounder was able to come to terms with the exceptional situation and draws a positive balance: "In 2020, I didn't go on a trip, an expedition, but spent a lot of time with my family, also discovered yoga, the joy of gardening for me and started a part-time study to become a physiotherapist."

Things also went well in terms of sports: "I was able to realize a pretty difficult first ascent on the Dreifaltigkeit in the Alpstein, in 2021 I would like to free climb it. A perfect project in this difficult time, more or less my front door." The climbing pro has already started with the targeted build-up training for such strength-sapping projects, with Wohlleben also recently succeeding in the second repetition of the very difficult and rarely grown ice line "Come on Baby" in the Brunni Valley. "After such a challenging endeavor, it's hard to immediately clear your head for the next project."

In 2021, Wohlleben will concentrate on his studies and renovate a house he bought with his wife, in addition to climbing projects in the nearby Alps: "There's a lot to do, 2021 will definitely not be boring." Wohlleben can't really get excited about the idea of transferring audience lectures to the digital world: "Then I'd rather go to the mountains as a mountain guide with customers."

His learning from the last 12 months: "Adventures on your doorstep can be really exciting. You don't have to go to Alaska for that." One welcome consequence of the corona-related bans: "In my region, the climbing scene is growing closer together because of the restrictions. People meet at home, train with each other, drink a beer and appreciate the few contacts they have."


Birgit Lutz, Arctic expert and author

When Arctic expert Birgit Lutz looks back on 2020, the year was one rollercoaster ride. To briefly classify Lutz: The 46-year-old, multi-award-winning journalist has been to the North Pole 15 times, lives with her husband at Schliersee and earns her living as a lecture speaker, expedition leader and self-employed author: "2020 was difficult at the beginning. I had 100% loss of sales and no income at all for months because all my readings, lectures and trips were cancelled."

For 2021, Birgit Lutz wants to set the direction herself: "Waiting is no longer an option for me psychologically and financially since autumn 2020. I no longer wanted to be condemned to react and finally act again. That's why I decided that I don't expect to travel in 2021 and started giving Zoom lectures, which are very successful."

Lutz, along with her colleague Rolf Stange, created "Arctic Wednesday," a digital lecture series. Focus topics from the Arctic: own ski tours, historical expeditions, ecology, plastic pollution, formation of sea ice, etc. The response has been great: "We've developed a wonderful audience for whom this Wednesday is as important as it is for us, in these times."

Lutz also worked on two book concepts in the fall and now has two book deals in the bag. "Plus, I have several writing projects that I don't have to go anywhere for." A little hope remains: "The only thing I'm still counting on a bit is a scientific expedition in Spitsbergen - the chances are a little better that it might happen. Otherwise, I'm working at home and I think that's great now, too."

Insight after a turbulent year with Corona: "I have become stronger. Because I got through the crisis without a single cent from the state." Although this disappointed the 46-year-old for a long time, it showed her that she can fight and be creative, especially in difficult times: "I believe that this will leave a lasting impression on me."


Stefan Glowacz, climber

Climbing legend Stefan Glowacz can "also enjoy the time of the pandemic despite all the restrictions." In view of the fact that the professional athlete spent months on expeditions in Greenland in both 2018 and 2019, a year off was also good: "In retrospect, I needed the first Corona year to come home to rest, so to speak, and to gain new motivation for exciting projects."

Whereby not only relaxation was on the agenda. "I had fantastic climbing days in the area. Sometimes in the Wetterstein Mountains, sometimes in Berchtesgaden, I was able to train a lot at home."

Concrete plans for 2021? "It drives me into the distance again, although this term has become much more relative. With my major project this year, I'm staying true to my by fair means motto." The professional athlete does not want to reveal more today. Except, "This multi-week endeavor is doable at any time, regardless of corona-related limitations."

As a professional athlete who makes a living from speaking engagements and sponsorships, among other things, the situation is challenging. Completely independent of the financial losses over cancelled lecture dates, Glowacz is looking forward to hopefully loosening up soon: "I miss the stage, the direct exchange with my audience." In any case, the lecture "Fascination Greenland" is ready. "As soon as the lecture organizers are ready to go again, so am I."

His learning after a year of pandemic: "My life doesn't have to be constantly in the fast lane, every day packed with appointments and telcos." Pausing was initially difficult for the adventurer, who lives with his wife on Lake Starnberg.

Currently Glowacz is working on the final touches of a film project: "On 1 March on Servus TV in the series Bergwelten my documentary about the two Greenland expeditions will be aired." Glowacz, who is also an entrepreneur in the outdoor business, is also looking forward to the first ISPO Munich after Corona: "The virtual, digital world can do an amazing amount, but it can't replace the direct exchange with customers and colleagues.


Thomas Huber, climber

"On expeditions, we learned to make the best of each situation," says Thomas Huber (pictured left next to his father as well as brother Alexander). 2020 went correspondingly differently, but in retrospect well. "We are at home in Berchtesgadener Land and there are really good walls here. Walls that we hardly paid attention to before because we were constantly on the road." In 2020 everything was different: "Now Alexander also had time and we realized two dream routes, the "Sun King" on the Untersberg and "Siete Venas" on the Hoher Göll."

The Huberbuam united as a legendary rope team in the Lockdown: "The last time we had such an intense time as brothers was in our youth." The most emotional experience: "With our 81-year-old father via the Salzburg route through the Watzmann East Face!"

His current biggest project for 2021 is the completion of his book, a kind of life story: "In the mountains is freedom". Thomas works without a ghostwriter, so he writes every line himself. In addition, the Huberbuam plan to work together to complete the first ascent on the Eiger North Face, which they had to abandon in autumn 2020. "We're busily training our fingers so that we can complete the projects we still have in mind before age overtakes us sport-climbing-wise." What would be one such forever project? "Our route "Karma" on the Steinplatte, which Alexander and I first climbed 10 years ago, is still waiting for a redpoint ascent by us as a rope team. With every year we get older, the holds in this difficult route (8 c) seem to get smaller and smaller, a real challenge!"

Personal wishes for 2021? "I hope to be able to be in the air a lot with my paragliding coach Achim Joost. Very secretly, I also hope for an expedition in the summer, maybe to Pakistan." It would be premature to talk about it concretely, because one thing Thomas 2020 has learned is: "You have to be ready and decide quite spontaneously."

What's next for public relations work? "At the moment we are scheduled for various TV contributions, also the digital way with the lectures is slowly picking up speed." Whereas it is still a bit unusual to enter the stage more or less from the couch, he says. Thomas, at any rate, is looking forward to finally being able to step in front of an audience for real again, to attend a rock concert or ISPO Munich, among other things "to exchange ideas with colleagues from all over the world and have a beer. Without masks."


Fräulein Draußen, Hiking Blogger

Kathrin Heckmann is "Fräulein Draußen", Germany's best-known hiking blogger. The home office of the native of Poingen is nature. How the outdoor influencer experienced 2020? "The first shock sat deep as a self-employed blogger, quite a few orders were canceled. Looking back, however, my year went ok professionally. "#

What "Fräulein Draußen" enjoyed? "The downtime and numerous outdoor adventures on our doorstep." In addition, Heckmann's first book was published in 2020, "Fräulein Draußen: Wie ich unterwegs das große in den kleinen Dingen gefunden."

Plans for 2021? "After traveling a lot in the wide world in recent years, the desire to pay more attention to my immediate surroundings has been growing for a while." Ideas abound. Advantage freelancer: "I'm pretty flexible and spontaneous. The quieter, travel-free lockdown months are a great way for me to pay more attention to my blog and social media channels. New content is created even without long-distance travel."

What was Heckmann able to learn from her time with Corona? "That as a self-employed person, it's important not to rely on just one source of income." Kathrin Heckmann would have loved to visit ISPO Munich as she does every year: I think trade fairs like ISPO are great because I can meet colleagues and (potential) cooperation partners in person there who I otherwise only know via email or Instagram. Especially for me as a solo self-employed person who primarily works online, this is always a really good opportunity that I like to take advantage of. Of course, virtual trade fairs also offer many opportunities, but I really hope that "normal" events will soon be possible again.