Julia: Hello Stefan! I am very pleased that you are here online today and telling us about your adventures. Of course, at the beginning it would be exciting to know who you are and what you do?
I'm actually quite normal. (laughs) I am a professional biologist with a focus on infection diagnostics and have worked in science for a long time. 5 years ago I decided that I wanted to do something different and then I slipped into the Marketing & Sales area. Now I work in sales for a big French company.
Julia: And how did you get into mountaineering?
I am now 42 years old and my love for the mountains started when I was 30, after my third puberty. For me, mountaineering started at the same time as photography, which is really great to combine.
I then started in the mountains of Vienna and quickly realized that I wanted to go higher. I then did a wide variety of high-altitude touring and climbing courses at the Alpine Club. That was really exciting for me! Because none of my friends wanted to go mountaineering with me at the time, I also booked my first tours to higher mountains with the Alpine Club. I liked it so much that I started collecting 3,000m peaks in Austria and my third tour was already on the Grossglockner. After 10 years of mountaineering in Austria, I pretty much exhausted the mountain landscapes here.
After doing this for a long time, the desire to go to the really high mountains in the Himalayas grew. When a rather difficult time followed privately, I took it as an opportunity to actually start this journey. So I booked my Tibet trip.
Besides, I always wrote about my mountain tours on my blog and published my photos because I didn't want them to gather dust on my hard drive. It was also important to me to be able to tell a story with my photos.
Julia: How was your Tibet trip then?
I was there for 16 days and really saw a lot. Among other things, the Everest Basecamp, from there you have a wonderful view of several 8,000 m peaks. I can really recommend Tibet to everyone as a travel destination! I filmed and photographed my entire trip and realized that I was no longer just about mountaineering, but about seeing the most beautiful mountains in the world.
At some point I started to tell my adventures in travel lectures and that was always very well received by the audience! As a result, I photographed differently during my travels, as I always had my travel lectures in mind, where I wanted to tell stories about pictures. Traveling abroad was no longer just about the mountains, but also about food and culture. I always write down my reports on my website so I don't forget them myself.
Julia: Is there something you write down after each trip to remind yourself?
Actually, I just write everything down. What is particularly important to me are my own experiences and emotions during my travels. For example, Ethiopia is a very poor but beautiful country. When I come back from there, I am always grateful for the luxury we are allowed to live here. I was really impressed by how little the people there are happy with. I think the most important thing for me is to capture my very personal experiences.
With every trip to an exotic country, I notice that I become more open to other cultures. For me, traveling is a really nice treasure trove of experiences that will nourish me for some time.When I come back from very poor countries, I'm happy for half a year for everything I have and how well I'm doing. And if it's not Corona, then after six months you go on the next trip anyway.
Julia: And how important is adventure in your everyday life?
It is very important to me because you follow your routines in everyday life. These are also important, but the adventure is a complete contrast to them. When climbing mountains, I can really get out of myself and explore my limits. Getting out of your routine can be very helpful.
Julia: What has been your greatest adventure so far?
Definitely my Tibet trip. Although mountaineering in itself is always a great adventure. I think you feel completely different there and are fully focused on one thing. For me, this trip had a very great emotional meaning, because privately I was going haywire and I saw Tibet as a new beginning. Also, the moment I stood in front of Everest was unforgettable.
Julia: Were you always alone on your mountain tours or did you have someone with you?
I wasn't always alone, but most of the time I was. I always hired a mountain guide for difficult tours, and on nice days you're very rarely alone in the mountains. I also walked a lot on my own, but in terms of safety, it's better at least with two people.
Julia: There's probably something meditative about being alone in the mountains, right?
Yes, of course, there is always something meditative about it. Especially the mighty landscapes! I often just sit and look at nature and take pictures. I really like doing that at the moment as I no longer have the urge to run up every peak. For a while I was already very driven, but now I look at the places more leisurely and take enough time to photograph the most beautiful things.
Julia: Do you have big goals that you really want to achieve?
Yes, I still have several goals. Patagonia is certainly one of them, but so are Alaska and New Zealand. Also, I really want to explore back to the Himalayas and Nepal. I'm sure I'll come up with new ideas when I talk to like-minded people.
Julia: Did you have a moment in your travels that you will never forget?
A special moment was the circumnavigation of Kailash, that was 53km in 3 days. The circumnavigation itself was very exhausting and I can still remember well when we reached the highest point and I was just incredibly relieved that I had made it this far physically. But there are really many, sometimes it doesn't have to be the biggest hardships behind it. The atmosphere in the Scottish Highlands, for example, is really magical, like in a fairy tale!
Julia: What would also interest me, what was your biggest fear before your adventures and how did you overcome it?
I don't think fear is a good advisor. Of course I was always scared, but the urge to do it kept getting stronger. I often don't think about it too much and just do it. On difficult tours I always had a mountain guide who supported me anyway. In addition, after a while you get into touring mode anyway, where you pull through with focus.
I did a tough tour on the Mönch once and at the end you have to walk a 300m long ridge that goes down on both sides. My first step went right next to it, where I got panicky and trembling knees. But I had to keep going and couldn't turn back.The first steps were still shaky, but then you become more secure again
In general, I do think that fear plays an important part in mountaineering, you have to be able to deal with it. But it feels good every time you beat them - so it always pays off!
Julia: What are some tips you would give other adventurers?
#1 don't think too much, just do it
If you have an adventure on your mind, don't search for 10 reasons why you can't do it, just go for it!
#2 record your adventures in the form of videos
Film or photograph those special moments to remember forever.
#3 Tell other stories about your adventures
If you like reporting on your adventures, maybe also in the form of lectures, never forget to include your personal emotions. How did you feel, how did you find the culture or how were you with your travel partners? People love to hear stories and storytelling makes every trip even more exciting.
Feel free to visit Stefan's blog: www.sc-fotoblog.com