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.