1. Simon, you describe yourself as an alpinist based on your personal passion. Tell us a little more about yourself…
I grew up in South Tyrol in the small village of Oberwielenbach, which sits at 1400 meters (4593 feet) altitude. Early on as a child I was a member of alpine and sports clubs, and today I’m a certified mountain guide and an alpinist. So, the mountains have always been my second home, on touring skis in winter and climbing in the summer. I have the privilege of living out my dream, and I couldn’t be happier.
2. When did you start skiing, and ski touring especially?
When I was four years old my father strapped my first pair of skis on me. Even today there’s still no lift in Oberwielenbach, so you had to just sort of work your own way up the slope. I had turned thirteen when my father took me along on a ski tour for the first time. My technique and my gear left a lot to be desired, but I still loved this first outing into deep snow despite a lot of falling and the wet clothes. I had a schoolbook knapsack as my backpack and my “technical apparel” consisted of my soccer sweatsuit. Still, it was a lot of fun and I was in love with this kind of skiing right from the start.
3. You’re a trained carpenter. When and why did you give up woodworking for the mountains?
At eighteen I recognized that the mountains embodied my greatest passion, so I decided on a training path to become a mountain and ski guide. Carpentry was my job at the time, but I found my calling as a mountain guide.
4. What kind of preparations do you make before heading out on a ski tour?
Information gathering, perfect planning, and no rushing around when sorting out gear- those are the three rules I follow before every tour. Along with the mental and organizational planning, physical preparation naturally plays a crucial role.
5. Which important tools do you absolutely need to have on a ski tour?
An avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel must always be in your pack. Next I focus on the lightest, most functional apparel. You can usually find a compromise among weight, comfort, and function. The appropriate ski touring boots complete the package. Fit, and a good performance-to-weight ratio are important here. Of course, you need nutritious food and an energy drink with you, too. It goes without saying that you should also bring a large serving of motivation and good spirits.
6. How do you deal with challenging situations on the mountain?
I have a huge amount of experience and memories from the past 20 years. Just as there have been unforgettable positive times, I’ve also been shaped by a few tragic events. What’s key is to try to take in as much you can on tour, so you add to your collection of great memories as well as adding to your collection of helpful experiences.
7. You’re also a ski and mountain guide. How was the ’20-21 season as a ski guide and for you in general?
The situation of this particular winter season was certainly unique. I can count the number of tours I was able to lead on one hand. However, a new project has me so motivated that I’m slipping into my ski touring boots almost every other day. The rest of my time I’m just enjoying with my family.
8. How many ski tours and how many vertical meters do you tally on average in a season?
About 60 ski tours and 90,000 meters (295,000 feet).
9. Last but not least, what meaning does ski touring have for you?
The contrast between the monotonous movement of the climb and the powerful, varying dynamics of the descent makes every ski tour so different. The impressions and sensory input you get are unbelievably rich and deep. On the one hand you can be mesmerized by the snowy winter landscape; then on the other hand you experience turning forces so powerful they just launch you into a total rush. These contrasts are what make ski touring so special for me.
More about Simon: http://www.simongietl.it/ | Instagram: @gietlsimon