Adventure interview with Thomas Gruber

Adventure Interview mit Thomas Gruber

Julia: Hello Thomas! Thank you so much that you are online today from Norway to tell us about your greatest adventure so far.

At the beginning it would be great if you could briefly introduce yourself. Who are you and what are you doing?

I'm Thomas, 25 years old and I'm studying mechanical engineering. At the moment I'm enjoying my semester abroad in Norway and when I'm not studying, I'm out and about in the mountains.

Julia: What does adventure mean to you in everyday life and what is the significance of adventure for you?

"Adventure is very important to me, everything that is not an adventure is mostly boring. For me, adventure means challenges and making dreams come true."

Julia: And what was your biggest adventure so far?

"It's hard for me to choose the biggest adventure, but one of the biggest was definitely the Hawelka climbing tour on the Hochkönig last year. I had no idea what to expect in advance because my brother took over all the planning - I just knew that he had gone on the tour before and, most importantly, with whom he went, and that information was enough for me to know that it was going to be a challenge.

When I watched him pack up all of our alpine climbing gear, he emphasized again that it would definitely not be an easy tour today. That only confirmed my bitter gut feeling and I decided that I will not ask any more questions (especially to be able to sleep better!).

When we arrived at the destination, I recognized the Hochkönig area because we had toured there several times. Even when my brother finally presented me with the upcoming tour, I already knew that it was known as an old classic. However, I also knew that this tour has not been restored since the 1970s. So when I stood in front of this huge wall, I just thought “I would have imagined worse”.

My brother started climbing. It didn't look that difficult from below and I wondered why he was taking so long for the first stage that day. As he continued to climb, I asked him several times if everything was okay. He just replied, "Yeah, it's not that easy and it's not that good secured either!" From downstairs I just wondered why he was doing this, because there were a lot of hooks on this route. I dismissed it all by saying that maybe he's just not in a good mood today.

When he finally reached the first stand, I was finally able to start climbing. After the first few meters I just thought "shit, maybe he was right". The coverage really wasn't the best. There were a lot of hooks, but they were completely rusted and wobbled frighteningly. After a short time I had no idea how to continue climbing and whether I would even be able to finish the route. And so I hung nervously in the rock with no plan how to get ahead. Until I saw one of those old, rusty and wobbly hooks next to me. My whole life then felt like hanging on this hook for a few seconds, because I slowly pulled myself up to it.

Meanwhile, my brother made fun of me and called the hooks “gear levers” because they stood approx. 10 cm out of the rock and I could move them in all directions like a gear lever. When I finally reached the same level as my brother I was afraid of how I should manage the rest of the route. Fortunately for me, the tour got a little easier after that.

However, in the middle of the tour I discovered a bolt that is usually only at each intermediate stage. I was really excited about it at the moment as these hooks were the only ones on the track that weren't rusty, wobbly, or 50 years old. You can imagine my joy as something like this: it's like when you've eaten vegetarian for a week and then, surprisingly, finally served bacon. After this brief joy, I just climbed further up. After a short time I found 2 older hooks again, but above or next to them I couldn't find anything to hook into. Everything looked as if it couldn't go any further here. While looking around for other options, I discovered that the real path would have continued much further down.

Only then I realized that the bolt should have signaled a curve earlier! The tour would actually have continued to the right around the rock. At that moment I was really desperate many meters above the ground and didn't know what to do next, because climbing down is much more complicated than climbing up. Normally you can hang yourself securely on bolts and build a firm stand, here that was out of the question due to the rusty and wobbly hooks, because I wanted to go on living. So I kind of had to build one myself. Fortunately we had all of our alpine equipment with us and I started to attach one clamping device after the other to the rock. A clamping device is an active and mobile securing device that can be stuck in crevices in the rock to secure yourself. After the first two, I was still terrified, so I attached two more. At one point I looked like I was stuck in a spider web! 😄

When I felt safe, I informed my brother that he could come now. He then took the right turn at the bolt in question and when he got to the actual stand he just shouted to me: “Yes, you can do it if you want!” Then he took a picture of me that captured the only 5 seconds I laughed. "

Julia: What was the most memorable moment of your adventure?

"The nut stick afterwards! That is the best reward."

Julia: Which 3 key takeaways would you give to other adventurers?

# 1 You don't have to know everything in advance

Sometimes it is good not to know in advance what will happen to you. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do the best possible tour planning. 😄

# 2 Find the right partner

Because with the right (rope) partners you can do almost anything!

# 3 Find the line between cowardly and insane

You should ask yourself more often if what you are doing is crazy or if you catch yourself making excuses for being cowardly. The most important thing is not that you were right at the top, but above all the nut sticks afterwards!

Julia: Do you have a motto for your adventures?

"The great art of mountaineering is to recognize the line between cowardice and madness."

Julia: Very exciting outdoor adventure with a great closing quote. Thank you for taking your time even from Norway and have fun with semester abroad adventure!

 


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