Simon Gietl has climbed all the main peaks of the Rosengarten skyline single-handedly. The South Tyrolean mountain guide and professional alpinist is the first to manage these integrals solo and in winter. In a conversation with Lacrux, he reveals what goes on in his mind during such solos and what this traverse means to him.
A total of 5000 meters in altitude overcome Simon Gietl, when from March 1st to March 3rd alone he climbed all the main peaks of the rose garden climbed over. Three intensive days in complete seclusion, which confront him with his own strengths and weaknesses, give him moments of happiness and also teach humility. Having the freedom to have such experiences is a great privilege for him, says the 37-year-old. "It is not a matter of course that you see the peace up there that no longer exists not far from us."
blow after blow
The Rosengarten lies between the Tiers valley in the South Tyrol and Val di Fassa in Trentino. The skyline of the approximately eight kilometer long massif is hard to miss. Even Simon Gietl cannot take his eyes off it when he goes climbing in Tiers. The idea of the traverse has been maturing for several years, and in 2022 it will become concrete.
Gietl contacted a local mountain guide colleague as he hardly knew the area himself. "To put it plainly, I had no plan at all," he says and laughs. Along with Egon Resch and Daniel Habock, which many sections of the Rosengarten have already been climbed in summer, one quickly agrees to try a winter ascent as a trio.
The venture is going well, the conditions are ideal. But then Egon Resch was hit by falling rocks on the third day. "The injury to his hand was so clear that we stopped the whole campaign." The fracture promises to heal completely, but a repeat of the tour is out of the question. Since Daniel Haböck also declined, Gietl came up with the idea of trying it out on his own.
Have the courage to be able to fail
Two and a half weeks later, the South Tyrolean packs a small tent, a light sleeping bag, an 8mm rope, climbing equipment and provisions for four days into his backpack and sets off. His goal: try out how far he can get on the road without material depots. "It was more about having the courage to be willing to fail," he says.
Video: Impressions of Simon Gietl's solo effort
Gietl is making good progress, even if there is a lot of fresh snow in the gullies. The South Tyrolean climbs in mountain boots throughout. The most difficult rope lengths - he assumes they are in the 6th grade - but without the 18-kilogram backpack on his back. Accordingly, he climbs these rope lengths a second time, secured on a pulley with a backstop.
The crossing consists mostly of exposed ridge climbing. Terrain that is difficult to secure and at the same time does not forgive mistakes. "You have to be fully concentrated and that's what was the biggest challenge overall," he says. Because alone you can hardly secure yourself on the ridge, otherwise you are up there for two weeks.
decisions and consequences
For Simon Gietl, going it alone involves dealing intensively with oneself, one's strengths and fears. "You find out who you are when you're alone," he notes at the first bivouac. This sentence says everything that it contains and causes when you are on your own. "You decide every situation yourself and you live with the consequences."
The combination of loneliness, darkness and being alone has a very negative connotation, according to the alpinist. But this overwhelming can also be transformed into something positive. "And that's the key to success in such situations." How does he do it? Among other things, this has to do with the fact that the process of daring to go it alone, as well as the intensive mental confrontation with it, begins earlier.
In the week before the transgression, he went through a lot, over and over again. "It made me understand how important it is for me to have this experience." Gietl compares the feeling of later finding yourself in this situation with a film. A film he wanted to watch a week earlier. A film in which he is now in the middle. "And then I can enjoy that, too, because I know I'll only be in this film once."
Find the way
When he sits by the tent in the evening and lets his eyes wander, he is not only grateful but also humble. The 37-year-old was a loner in his childhood. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with him because he not only didn't understand the school material, but also didn't feel himself as a person. "With climbing and mountaineering, I found the path that I had been looking for for a long time." He is very grateful for this happiness and he wishes everyone this happiness.
At the end of the third day, Stefan Gietl has the exposed ridge behind him. Since his concentration is waning, he decides to bivouac at the foot of the wall and descend the next day. When he tells his mountain guide colleague from Tiers, who had guided him from peak to peak with his enormous knowledge of the area, the latter waves him off. They are already on the ascent, the spaghetti ready and the beer chilled. That was a super nice friendly gesture from the two, says Gietl. They celebrate his solo traverse of the Rosengarten group late into the night.
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Credits: Cover photo: Simon Gietl