Ueli Steck interviewed by Mayayo: From the Eigernorwand record to trail running. Fast & Light alpinism.
Ueli Steck is one of the great alpinism references of our days, with a most personal approach blending superb technical skills with a “go fast, go light” attitude. This 2016 we discussed with him at ISPO Munich his views on the present and future of alpinism, and his recently found joy of mountain running.
Please see below the video interview by Mayayo, and then go on to read the full transcript if you will.
UELI STECK, From the EIGER Nordwand record to running ultra trails
Interview by Mayayo (@moxigeno) at ISPO Munich 2016.
Good morning, we are at the ISPO Munich fair with one of the most notorious mountaineers today, the swiss Ueli Steck. We’ve heard a lot about your recent achievements on challenging climbing routes, by blending fast and light techniques. Why do you feel attracted to that kind of style more than anything else?
Yes, it is true that my movements are fast lately at the mountains. The reason, may be that I love to search for the best mountain performance. Other people, other mountaineers are more filled with the sense of adventure in itself, I think they are the ones who are really ,really hard.
I do not look for things so hard, what attracts me is just to overcome challenges of greater technical difficulty. In that sense it may be more similar to a classic athlete than those who feel as true mountain explorers.
It is also true that, as Messer said: In the mountains “Speed is safety,” the lighter you move in the mountains, the less exposed you are to a number of objective risks terrain, weather, avalanches and other ..
Of course! If you can overcome a route that cuts through a demanding alpine face in a few hours, instead of taking a couple of days for it, there is no doubt on how much you reduce risk exposure in that account only.
At the Eiger Nordwand you recently preached by example. You cut down the ascent speed record to much less than you ever thought possible, yourself.
True, last November I managed to leave it down at 2h22m. But today … I think it is possible to reduce it even below than two hours. None has done it yet, of course. But I am convinced that it will come, and it will not take long.
I think everything revolves around the prospect of climbing at each place by ourselves and do it as we feel more comfortable with ourselves.
So I am convinced that sooner rather than later, that same challenge will again overcome with more elegance and lightness.
All mountain enthusiasts have heard of your great mountain climbs, but maybe your new passion for mountain runing as well, is not so well known. How did you come to discover and enjoy trail running?
The truth is that mountain races are something that I really enjoy. Although … I’m still very slow! I have a lot to improve in this area. I remember last year when I ran the 53km of the OCC in Chamonix, it took me very long ….
My problem is that while there are technical ups and downs, I do quite well. But of course, when I to run in the flats, I need agile rhythms, yet I cannot run as fast as I would like. So I have to get to train more on that aspect, I confess.
I started alpine running years ago, just in order to train better for climbing, no more. But over time it has become a sport I enjoyed for itself, I very much like to run and compete.
We´ve heard that same comnent from several classic mountaineers, who see mountain races as just one more way to enjoy alpine areas. Different, neither better nor worse than conventional techniques.
And it grows every day, I think. As races are becoming more technical, including traverses at true high mountain sections, climbing technical steps, crossing edges. I think to move across that environment at those rhythms is something truly beautiful, special.
I hope we see you soon running with us in Spain, be it at the technical Alpinultras series, climbing up to three thousand meters or more, with classic mountain crossings, or even at other mountains runing classics, such as the Basque hundred miles, the Ehunmilak. What is the longest race you’ve done so far?
It was the OCC of Chamonix, with its 53 kilometers. When I signed up to the Eiger Ultra trail I did it just to test to myself racing and that is whiy I chose the short run. But I will return to the Eiger for the long run and will also repeat at the OCC. And hopefully, hopefully I can also run on Spain as you say.
Thanks Ueli, a real pleasure.
MORE ON TRAIL RUNNING GEAR, RUNNNERS AND SPAIN´S MOUNTAINS
- Playlist in english with selected videos: Gear reviews, top runners interviews and more
- More about trail running in Spain 2016 here.
- Learn more on Spain´s mountains here, second highest country in Europe, after Switzerland.