Career Highlights

  • Five times Bouldering World Cup champion
  • Two-times runner up
  • European champion

Interview

  • Climbing

    When and how did you get into climbing? What keeps you interested? What fascinates you?

    I started climbing at the indoor wall. But in my first year, in 1995, I travelled to Italy, Slovenia and France to climb on rock. For me climbing has always been connected with travelling, getting to know new places and having a good time with my friends. This remains the case to this day.

    Who were your childhood heroes?

    Successful rock climbers and competition climbers. No one in particular. But especially those that were not just successful but also had charisma. I was never really interested in success as such; it was always more about how I climbed.

    Do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you that other people look up to you?

    On the competition circuit there are probably some people, especially young climbers, who look up to me. I hope they are not just focused on the success, but on the way in which I have realised my passion for climbing over the years.

    What have been the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you recognize them immediately as such or only later on?

    My first World Cup win in Erlangen, in 2004, was a definite milestone. I had never even won an international youth championship and my colleagues who were the same age as me were already winning titles like European Champion, World Champion or were high up in the World Cup rankings. Even though I found it hard to be patient back then, it paid off in the end.

    What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?

    There have been several competitions that didn't turn out the way I had envisaged and projects that I could not tick. But I have always tried to learn something from setbacks and then adapt my approach on my next attempt. For a few seasons I was plagued with finger issues. That helped me focus on my studies, alongside climbing. It helped me realise that I could not count on climbing alone to sustain me.

    What is your favourite climbing-related story / experience?

    I don't have a best ever climbing story. It would not be fair. Every story, every trip, every project harbours so many fantastic moments. You meet people and get to see landscapes, every one of which is unique and inspiring in its own way. It would be awful to forget them, so much would be lost. I'm just glad about the whole 'data retention' issue, at least we won't lose anything that's on the web.

  • Training

    Do you have a strict training schedule for when and how you train throughout the year?

    Up until now, yes I have done, but from now on, no. For the competition circuit it was always important to be fit in spring. For my personal projects, I plan to prepare myself at the right time and in the right way for each individual project

    Have fun. Recognise your weaknesses and be brave enough to train at those. Train with friends and learn from those who are better than you. And adopt the practice of taking restorative breaks.

    What do you think of indoor climbing gyms in relation to climbing on actual rock?

    Indoor climbing gyms are for training, for preparation but also places to meet up with friends and swap ideas. At the climbing gym I can have lots of fun but I can also work on projects in a focused way.

    Are you able to do a one-arm pull-up? How about a single finger?

    Yes, and never tried one.

    How much of success as a pro climber is due to self-marketing and how much due to actual climbing skill?

    Above all, your achievements should speak for themselves. Then it is a question of 'how' and down to charisma. A climber who can sell himself or herself well could make a living from climbing. However, in the long run this would not really be authentic and not much fun either. The most important thing is doing what you do for yourself and not just to pay the bills. Otherwise climbing soon turns into a duty and success becomes an obligation.

  • Psychology

    Can anyone train to be able to do a one-arm pull-up or reach the summit of the Eiger/Matterhorn? Or do you have to be born for it?

    Well, in theory, I guess so. Climbing the Eiger or doing a one-arm pull-up are not necessarily world class feats. To be at the top of your game, you really have to achieve a lot and work hard, and on top of that you need a good dose of luck. Starting with the lottery of your birthplace, which most of us are lucky enough to have won. If you were born into a low caste in southern India, then the Matterhorn would not be your top priority!

    How important is it to set goals in professional sports? What are your goals? What targets are you working towards for your climbing and in life?

    Goals are important as a matter of principle, because they allow you to work towards them and not just train blindly. But if you only focus on goals, then things can become just a means to achieving that goal. Often it's the journey that is more exciting than the summit itself. In teaching there is the 'teaching to the test' theory, whereby you only learn what is needed to pass the test and nothing more. It is important to strike a balance between goal orientation and creativity and spontaneity

    How do you deal with extremely hard climbing problems? Do you ever get frustrated and give up on them? Or do they motivate you even more?

    I am a realist. I am pretty good at knowing what I can and can't do. If I realise that something will go then I am happy to spend more time on it.

  • Future of climbing

    Where do you see the sport going in coming years? What will change? And what will your role be in it?

    There will be more climbing gyms and also more people at the crag. What is important is to encourage new climbers to adopt behaviour that is sustainable and to act as an example.

    Taking care when developing new areas; no rubbish, avoiding conflict with local communities, removing tick marks, no shouting and screaming etc. etc. I think there will be enough space for everyone in the future... I hope to climb hard for many years to come, to travel lots and discover new climbing areas or even to develop them.