Simon Gietl may have chosen to be somewhat “wooden” in his early vocational life. But that all changed when he discovered his calling to a very different type of terrain. The mountain guide and extreme mountaineer from South Tyrol lives with his family in Luttach, Italy, and is generally found somewhere in the mountains – pursuing his passion. No matter whether he’s somewhere between the Dolomites, on expeditions in Greenland, Patagonia or the Himalayas, or on the face of one of the many walls in the world, Simon is an inveterate adventurer. He’s someone who’s more interested in the totality of his experiences than the simple climb to the summit itself.
Simon’s affinity for the world of mountains wasn’t something that simply appeared early in his life. Before he caught mountain fever at 18, he was busy completing a cabinetmaker apprenticeship. The former “woodworm” fell in love with the mountains three years after his first experiences in the vertical world – afterwards, nothing else stood in his way to a career as a professional climber.
While climbing on rock or ice, Simon always concentrates on the challenge he’s posing to himself – both in physical and mental terms. He prefers to take on rock and ice routes that reflect the philosophy of the late German climbing legend Wolfgang Güllich: “The mind is the most important muscle in climbing.” In speaking of himself, Simon says: “I train my body and mind also with the desire to leave behind my own tracks on the alpine faces.” Tracks that have been honoured in many ways, including presentation of the Grignetta d’Oro – the award given to Italy’s best alpinist – in 2016.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TOUR?
“My favourite, which so happens to be in the Dolomites and means a lot to me personally, is the “Can you hear me now” tour. I tossed around the idea of this tour with my best friend, who unfortunately later lost his life. He came up with the idea, and I had promised to do the tour with him. Indeed, fate had a different idea. This tour was one where no price of training and preparation could be too high. I was simply determined to do it, didn’t matter what I had to give. It was very important to me to keep my word to him.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE?
“To live to me means freedom. I luxuriate in every day because you never know how many days you have left. That is really important to me. Even when it doesn’t go as you want it to go, for example with projects. Important is to always pull yourself up and keep going. There is always tomorrow. You don’t have to hang your head and see everything negatively. You have to find the positive in failures.”
DO YOU LIVE BY ANY PARTICULAR MANTRA OR AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF WISDOM?
“There is a wise saying that I wrote on my personal training wall after my climbing accident. Feel strong, but not invincible. That is something I hope to never forget.”