I started climbing when I was 12 and ever since then I have combined school, university and work with my training, traveling and competing. This has not been easy, but as climbing always was what I enjoyed most, it also wasn’t a hard decision.
First of all, this requires quite a lot of programming and logistics. When I went to university, I had to take my climbing gear with me already in the morning, as I would stop by the gym on my way back home in the evening. I studied Agricultural Economics at the Free University of Bolzano, where all courses were obligatory, which means that I had to attend lectures all day, sometimes finishing at 8 pm and with some classes even on Saturday mornings.
I only skipped lessons when I traveled to competitions. As I knew that I had to take the train, I left lessons 10 minutes in advance, then I would run to the train station, from there take the bike to the gym, train and finally go home. I always had to have my precise plan of the day.
I prefer to finish off all the obligations I have before I get myself some free time (back at those days climbing was my free time). That means that when I went to school I came home for lunch, had a small rest, then went on with all my homework, before leaving for the climbing training. Then at university, the time before training wouldn’t be enough and I often finished studying late in the evening after taking classes all day, training in the evening and studying again, or I got up early in the morning.
Personally, I feel like the time at the university was the most stressful ever. That was probably my fault as I was ambitious not only in climbing but also in my studies and I aimed for the best grades. While always going on with climbing training and getting more and more involved in the ice climbing Worldcup competitions.
I worked full time the first year I started working at an agricultural research center. I then soon figured out that I could not participate in the car sharing with my colleagues because after work I would stop by the gym, half way home. Again it was lots of planning and trying to fit everything into my day.
The years after it got easier when I worked part time, I could train in the morning and then go to work or leave earlier and get much more time for training and even for some climbing outdoors during the week.
You can see that all this additional planning and thoughts could leave me stressed – however – I must say that climbing also helped me get my head free and find my balance.
When I arrived to the gym after a long day at university or at work I was tired and had my head full of thoughts and in the beginning. It seemed impossible to train. The only thing I really wanted to do in that moment was to go home and lie down on the couch. But once I started climbing, my head completely focused on that.
I think this is something particularly special in climbing. While you are climbing you can’t think about the exam that went bad, the problems you had at work, the book you have to study later. You simply focus on the next hold to take, the next move you have to do. And when I left the gym, my mind felt fresh and less tired than when I had walked in. Climbing is my meditation.
Photos by Mark Savage