An Interview with Roger Schaeli: Swiss Alpinist Extraordinaire

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Roger schaeli

Roger schaeli is a renowned Swiss alpinist and climber who has garnered international recognition for his remarkable achievements and exceptional skills scaling some of the world’s most challenging peaks and walls. Born in Sörenberg, Switzerland, in 1978, Schäli developed a passion for climbing from a young age, immersing himself in the sport and honing his skills over the years.

Schäli’s expertise spans a wide range of disciplines, including rock, ice, and alpine climbing. He has successfully summited over 40 four-thousand meter peaks, including the iconic Eiger Nordwand on over ten different routes and at all times of the year. His adventurous spirit has led him to undertake numerous first ascents and new routes all over the world.

One of Schaeli’s most notable accomplishments is his connection of the six most prominent north faces of the Alps in a non-stop, unsupported trek covering over 1,100 kilometers. This ambitious expedition, undertaken with fellow alpinist Simon Gietl, showcased their remarkable endurance, technical prowess, and unwavering determination.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into Roger Schaeli’s remarkable career, exploring his motivations, his most memorable ascents, and his insights into the future of alpinism.

Roger schaeli

Q: What first attracted you to the Eiger, and what makes you return there again and again?

I had a direct view of the Eiger North Face from my local mountain, the Brienzer Rothorn, and was fascinated from the start.

Q: Can you describe one of your most memorable first ascents on the Eiger, and what made it such a significant achievement?

My most significant first ascent on the Eiger for me is the Odyssey. Our first ascent eventually became the most difficult and sustained free-climbing route on the Eiger. This route was only possible because I had already climbed almost all routes in this part of the wall.

PS: My first route in this part of the wall was the Japaner Direttissima, which is not a first ascent, but the route I am most proud of.  The first free ascent of the Japan Direttissima took me 6 years.

Q: The Eiger is known for its treacherous conditions and challenging terrain. How do you prepare mentally and physically for such a daunting summit?

Honestly, the most important thing after 56 Eiger routes is to underestimate the wall and no route. The preparation came about through the years. I have grown with the wall and been formed into a complete climber.

Q: You have climbed the Eiger North Face over 50 times. How has your approach to climbing evolved over the years, and how do you continue to find new challenges and push your limits on this legendary mountain?

I know your type of climbing so well by now that I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, the high art is to never underestimate the wall! Until you are on the wall, especially in winter, you never know exactly what the conditions are.

Finding new challenges is quite easy for me because I am a passionate mountaineer and climber and the wall is 3.5 km wide and 1800m high, the ideas and dreams will never run out.

Q: Can you tell the story of your paragliding flight from the top of Cerro Torre? What inspired you to attempt this feat and what was the feeling of accomplishing it?

Flying from Cerro Torre is probably the non-plus ultra in terms of climb and fly. Therefore, as an active paraglider pilot and Cerro Torre climber, it is obvious to try this dream. Since last season I have been with my friend Mario Heller, who is a professional paraglider pilot, it was obvious that we would try this dream. Finally, I was able to stand on Cerro Torre for the third time, but I had never been so nervous before my descent!

Roger schaeli
Roger schaeli
Roger Schäli
Roger schaeli
Roger Schäli
Roger schaeli

Q: How do you reconcile your love of adventure and exploration with the risks and dangers of mountaineering?

A difficult question, which also occupies me. One tool that I use and work hard on is that of sovereignty. To master each tour, even if it seems so simple, with confidence. I think this is an important key. Plus being able to listen to your gut and having the courage to say no. Plus the recipe of less is more!

Q: You’ve climbed all over the world. Are there any places or routes you haven’t explored yet that you’re dying to try?

Yes I would still very much like to climb once in Karakoram and once in Bhutan.

Q: you are known for your technical skills and your ability to push the limits of what is possible in alpine climbing. Can you say something about the training and preparation required to develop these skills?

I think that one of my talents is that I am very open and always interested in new things. Another recipe of mine is that I am a dreamer who is not training lazy plus on top I have the bite or English the grit.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring alpinists who want to follow in your footsteps and achieve great things in the mountains?

Phuu., I think the most important thing is to have intrinsic motivation, to be patient, to have the ability to turn around and also to be afraid and to be careful. I know it is an old saying however, It is easy to be a good climber but difficult to become an old climber.

Q: Looking back on your impressive career as an alpinist, what are the most valuable lessons you have learned about yourself, the sport and the world around you?

The most valuable lessons are humility, passion, caution and patience. And that if you really want something, you can do it.

As Roger Schaeli looks towards the future, he remains committed to exploring new frontiers and pushing the boundaries of alpinism. His unwavering passion, exceptional skills, and dedication to the sport have cemented his place as one of the most renowned alpinists of our time.

In this interview, we have gained a glimpse into the remarkable world of Roger Schalli, a true pioneer in the realm of mountaineering. His story is one of unwavering determination, exceptional skill, and a deep love for the mountains. As he continues to conquer new challenges and inspire future generations, Roger Schalli’s legacy as an alpinist extraordinaire is firmly etched in the annals of mountaineering history.

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