FA “Der Letzte Schöne Herbsstag” (7c) & “Muas da wuascht sein” (7a), Galerie, Martinswand

Gut Ding braucht Weil. Sagt man so. Als Lukas ‘Siggi’ Sigl und ich im Oktober 2011 beschlossen, eine neue Linie im oberen Stock des bei den Innsbruckern wegs seiner Panoramablicke und hohem Solariumfaktors sehr beliebten Klettergartens Galerie einzubohren, kannten wir zwar das Sprichwort, aber nicht die Relevanz für unsere neue Route. Etwas später bohrte Lukas dann gemeinsam mit Sandra Liebold enthemmt noch eine weitere Linie links davon ein, und so kann man nun langsam wirklich von einem ‘oberen Stock’ sprechen.

Topo Galerie Oben Rechts
Topo Galerie Oben Rechts

Die Routen sind als zweite Seillängen über die Einführung in die Physik (6b+) oder die Route rechts neben der Einführung in die Physik (ca. 6b) zu erreichen. An einem überaus gemütlichen, vom Innsbrucker Verschönerungsverein großzügiger Weise gesponserten Standplatzbankerl angekommen, befindet sich der/die Wiederholungsaspirant_in nun vor einer lebensphilosophischen Entscheidung: Wählt er/sie die linke Linie, erstbegangen durch Lukas Sigl am 13.01.2014, so begibt er/sie sich auf den Pfad des “Muas da wuascht sein” (7a). Der Routenname ist den tiefsinnigen Worten Flo ‘Flow’ Brunners nachempfunden, der in einem Moment spiritueller Erleuchtung die Quintessenz all seiner Lebenserfahrung in die Kraft dieser vier Worte zu bündeln wusste, und spiegelt die pragmatische innere Einstellung wieder, dass einem tatsächlich im Leben oft einiges wuascht sein muas. Muas da wuascht sein, wenn vor lauter Nebel die Hand vor Augen nicht siehst. Muass da wuascht sein, wenn die Finger vor Kälte erstarrt sind. Muas da wuascht sein, wenn der scharfe Fels Spuren hinterlässt. Muas da wuascht sein, wenn’s Projekt wieder nicht geht. Oder akronymisch: Mdws.

Wählt der/die motivierte Kletter_in die rechte Variante, “Der Letzte Schöne Herbsttag” (7c), dem ich am 09.01.2014 die erste Rotpunktbegehung abringen konnte, so vertritt er mit seinem/ihrem Versuch die Einstellung, sein/ihr Leben möglichst so zu gestalten, als ob der gegenwärtige Tag tatsächlich der letzte schöne Herbsttag sein könnte. Die Betonung ist stets auf den bewusst gewählten Konjunktiv II zu setzen; man besitzt doch nie Gewissheit. Auch soll dies keineswegs den herannahenden Winter herabwürdigen, auch dem ersten schönen Wintertag ist durchaus viel Positives abzugewinnen; doch den ersehnten Durchstieg des aktuellen Kletterprojekts kann man wohl vergessen, denn der Winter ist da, und im Winter geht man gefälligst Skitouren. Resümierend lässt sich daraus folgende philosophische Grundregel formulieren: Lebe jeden Tag so, als wäre es der letzte schöne Herbsttag. Quasi carpe diem für Kletterer. Und was macht ein jeder Affe am letzten schönen Herbsttag? Volle ziachn gian. Alles andere muas da wuascht sein.

Àle.

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Hitch/Hike Iceland

I’ve been putting this long-expected post off for months now – for the simple reason that it seems to be an impossible task to put into words what Maria and me experienced in an entire four weeks of hitching and hiking and hitch-hiking through, across, and around the island Iceland. Where to start? What to write? And what’s the point, after all? Is there a justified need to document & publish everything? Do I put time and effort into writing this because I want to inspire people to go out and walk similar paths or is it all just narcissistic self-portrayal because I’m having just such a great time, all the time?

I’m not too sure. Possibly a bit of both. But, you might now be tempted to remark, can’t I shut up now and just deliver those stunning pictures? Oh, yes. Sorry, almost got distracted from writing a long-expected blog post about a month on Iceland. We continue: Iceland, man! Have you heard of Iceland yet? Of this totally exotic and mystical island somewhere between Europe and America, home of trolls, fairies, and very few humans too, living in volcanos and bathing in natural hot pools, doing their magic? Yes of course you have, because those volcanos occasionally blow up and disrupt the international air traffic between Europe and America with their nasty smoke cloud. Nasty trolls. But where now, you might inquire persistently, are those goddamn pictures? I deliver.

Of course, just throwing a few shiny picture into a blog post cannot accurately mirror the experience of hiking a month through Iceland. Well, nothing can, except the experience itself. But to say the least, quite an experience, it was. There are also a couple of hundred pictures more (as on the Web, the experience only counts if you picture it), but lets save some for a follow-up post. Why, you might ask? No, please. Don’t ask.

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L’Opium du Peuple! Tour Va Mal!

It’s probably not overly exaggerated when I say that I probably never put as much effort into climbing a route than into this one. Or two, to be precise. The first and almost most difficult effort was to wait in Chamonix. Wait for stable weather, which was rare, this summer. Wait and look at the topos. All those topos! All those routes! All this perfect granite! And us, stuck in the valley, condemned to do some sport climbing. Bah! What an effort. But then, finally, our new favourite site meteocham preached no rain, for three days! Off we go. Quite slow actually, because as it happened, we had to carry our massive bags containing topes, trad gear, tent, sleeping bag, mats, food for three days, cloths, but no beer. Still heavy. Seb was dubbed ‘the walking barrel‘ as the sheer size of his haulie almost exceeded his body size.

And what a pain it was. Frankly, the walk up to Refuge de l’Envers des Aiguilles (2700m) is breathtaking by itself, surfing the mer the glace, but with that damn haulie on your back … different story. Well, a few hundred curses later we arrived up there and found the snow retreated just enough to give way to a few flat square meters, setting up basecamp! Then, the route we planned to do that day didn’t quite happen; just as we roped up, it started to rain. And my stomach got bad. Seriously? After all that hauling? Mpf. Back to tent. More rain. One thought: La misere. Eyes close.

Only to open up the next day to, yes yes yes: blue sky! Finally we’re in granite-heaven, we decide for an easier introduction and an intriguing route name: L’Opium du Peuple (300m, 6a). Getting to the actual climb proved to be an adventure for its own sake, there are some cravasses to pass and then, the infamous bergschrund: depending on the season, route length can vary up to a pitch or so. Some routes are simply impossible because you can’t get to the rock at all. Climbing at altitude is a different game. But L’opium we got, a magnificent climb situated in a unparalleled and isolated scenery. And to watch avalanches play right beside you is interesting, too. Also, our decision to extend the route and to climb the second tower as well made for an adventurous abseiling action: through snow. Wet climbing shoes guaranteed. Back to base camp to witness a one-of-a-kind sunset, großes kino without an entrance fee.

Our big project is scheduled for the next day, Tour Va Mal (600m, 6c+) on the Auguille du Roc. And what a climb this one is. Starting out as a bolted slap route, it quickly steepens and the bolts make way to perfekt orange-coloured Chamonix granite cracks, occasionally streaked by 40m long quartz veins. Each pitch a beauty (as dirty as it may sound), each friend a bummer, each nut bomb-proof. But 600m are a long way to go, and the last pitch makes you pay your tolls. And cold, cold it get, at almost fourthousand, as soon as the sun disappears. Finally, what comes up has to come down again: All the way. Not too pleasant, considering that the entire route is named after a malheur while repelling after the first ascent. The cracks eat ropes. Ours too, but just once. Anyway, exhausted and no earlier than by sunset we arrive back at base. What. A. Climb. I won’t go into length about our cursings the next day when the clouds moved back in, and we had to haul all our stuff back to Chamonix. So were the efforts worth it? Judge yourself:

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Beer and Sauna, Beer and Sauna, Beer and …

If you have ever wondered how it feels like to be on the highest peak of the Alps a little bit before sunrise, then let me tell you you’ll have two things constantly and repetitively crossing your mind whilst enjoying this most wonderful view and waiting for the very first sunrays in all of central Europe to hit your face: beer, and sauna.

Try if if you don’t believe me. The summit of Mont Blanc, 4810m above sea level, is by its nature quite exposed to the elements as it towers high above all surrounding materiality. This means quite some wind, and the minutes before sunrise are traditionally the coldest minutes of the day (or night). Well, those two factors in combination with the above mentioned altitude make your brain inevitably repeat: beer and sauna, beer and sauna, beer … for this is the state of luxurious comfort that you left behind, way down in the Chamonix valley.

Of course, mountaineering is not about comfort. There has to be another reason to answer the question of why on earth we left beer and sauna behind to adventure up the Alp’s highest peak during complete darkness just to see the sunrise from up there, exposing ourselves to serious danger, exhaustion, cold, and the lack of beer. The answer is this:

Sunrise on Mont Blanc

To put pixels into words: Why not. And yes, there was a strange feeling of success when, finally, you, gasping for air, kick the crampon into the hard snow one last time, gaining a view unparalleled: the view down on everything. Being on the very top of it all. Yes, one does feel superior for a second or two. And no, there isn’t an après ski bar up there, selling beer. Yet.

Sebastiaan and me left our cosy bivouac at Col Maudit (4000m) a bit after midnight, wrapping out of our sleeping bags after a few minutes of napping to enter a perfectly still night. I’ve never seen as many stars anywhere in Europe as that night, and the full-moon was constantly looming above the summit, kind of guiding our way, luring us to get closer, as close as possible in this part of the world, allowing us to walk without headlamps when there was no obvious crevasse danger. Yes, after two weeks of waiting and uncertain weather, we were rewarded with the perfect conditions, at last. We, quite exhausted and breathing hard, reached 4810m at 5:13 a.m., and what followed were minutes of bitter cold; we wished for sauna and beer more than ever. But all we got was this magnificent sunrise. Good enough, we said, and departed for a long, long, long walk down into the valley. Beer and sauna we got, at last. Prost & Santé.

long walk downAnd because the scenery quite generally is not the worst and quite worth picturing, here a gallery for your enjoyment.

[AFG_gallery id=’24’]

 

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Bohuslän, yes again

Yes Mats. This is definitely worth a blog entry. The tricky thing is just that all blog posts have to be written by hand. There really should be a automation process to it. Such a big effort! Maybe that’s why it took me three month to write this. Three month (I know you were faster)! But there really wasn’t any time whatsoever during the last three month to write a blog post; no no. So as of now, it feels like last year that we drove through a lot of flatland to arrive in Bohus yet again. So how should one possibly write about a thing in such a distant past, barely remembered at all? Well, a first step would be to copy-paste all text found scratched on a worn, torn, and rumpled sheet of paper. It reads:

  • Svaneberget, Bergkirstis Polska 6-, 35m: “beautiful sweeping line that requires footwork to the top”; “def. not in the trad-mindset yet.”
  • Svaneberget, Bohusvals 6-, 20m: “ex thinner fingers”
  • Svaneberget, Höstsonaten 6+, 35m: “!!
  • Hallinden, Pekkas Diplomtur 6, 22m: “excellent jamming lesson”
  • Hallinden, Prismaster 6-, 55m: “an exceptional climb: a classic for sure”
  • Hallinden, Fueled on Coffee, Powered by Bakon 7, 25m: “thank god for great granite, and thank god Daniel led this one”
  • Häller, Chapman 6, 35m: “a great, great climb”
  • Häller, Djurgårdsfärjan 6, 45m: “Simon led this classic Swedish horror show. Actually was a strange and wonderful cimb, with very unusual moves required. The traverse at the top is also pretty special”
  • Högberget, Karl Alfred 6-, 25m: “svamp?”
  • Högberget, Jäger 6+, 25m: “a line, a line, a line. worthy finale of a great trad trip”

(Thank you Sam, you slightly crazy English guy, for pre-thinking most of the comments. Will start my own routebook soon. You’ve got a good point there.)

Second, you quickly upload some pictures found on your hard-drive to the almighty cloud and add them to the blog post; makes for some good and colourful space and doesn’t require a lot of thinking. Go:

[AFG_gallery id=’22’]

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The Commodification of the Couch

For the past couple of month, much of my time was occupied by intensely staring at a single document which was to become my Master’s thesis for the Digital Media & Society programme at Uppsala University. The idea behind the work was basically to explain life, the universe, and everything through the struggle of ‘the commons’ versus ‘commodification’ in online spaces, using the exemplifying case study of ‘hospitality exchange networks’. I am using the wonderful platforms of Couchsurfing and BeWelcome as examples of manifestations for those concepts; the most interesting, inspiring and motivating part of all research process was, indeed, to interact with many members from both communities; thanks, awesome people, for all your input & drive!

For the curious:

Hospitality exchange (HospEx) networks – online platforms facilitating the connection between a traveler and a local resident – embody many of the cyber-utopian promises intrinsic to the Web as it started out 25 years ago. Such sites have often been conceptualized as a new and daring trend in a booming ‘sharing industry’ and have been researched for topics such as trust, reputation, and online identities. Yet, a more critical look uncovers that crucial issues of ownership, power, digital labour, and organizational structures have often been left out. 

To fill this gap, this thesis investigates upon the antagonistic struggle between the commons and processes of commodification in the light of critical theory and political economy. The research shows that examples with characteristics of both concepts are manifested in the niche social networking space of HospEx platforms. The biggest of those platforms, Couchsurfing.org, changed its organizational orientation from a non-profit, commons-based project towards a for-profit company in 2011 – an instance of commodification. An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative community data shows that the transformation consequently concerns a member on multiple levels. The structural change of ownership results in a loss of transparency and privacy, an alteration of the platform’s integrity, a sacrifice of the ‘uniqueness’ of the community, and a differing relationship between the user and the platform. 

To shed light on an antagonistic force and suggest an alternative, community-based governance approach, the work further explores the specifics of a platform guided by the logic of the commons. Interviews with volunteers of the non-commercial, non-profit HospEx platform BeWelcome.org helped to deepen an understanding of how a digital commons can be sustained and what challenges they face. The thesis concludes that the developments observed on Couchsurfing are not an exception but rather characteristic and part of a broader trend manifested in all areas of digital media, and indeed modern society in general: commodification processes frequently jeopardize the commons and incorporate them into the logic of capital.

For the even more curious: Here’s a link to the thesis uploaded on a platform that will require you to sign up & spam you in consequence, therefore you might prefer a straightforward direct PDF download. Of course, it’s all Creative Commons content so enjoy & share (both optional). Questions?

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