Nothing is impossible
Gabriel Tschurtschenthaler, a Sexten native, is a massage therapist and holder of a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, one of the martial arts of the Japanese Samurai.
Together with his brother Florian, he runs a family business in forestry and municipal services. However he is also an enthusiastic climber and an altogether congenial kind of man. Without question he is someone who is always looking for new challenges. By climbing on rock and ice, or when working in the forests around Sexten and in his everyday life in the city in Vienna. So far, so good. But here’s one crucial detail: since childhood, Gabriel has suffered from a visual impairment that, depending on the light conditions, causes him either to see shadowy outlines or next to nothing. In his case, twilight and shadows are better than the bright sunshine that is normally to be found in the mountains. Nevertheless, the 34-year-old does not let it stop him from constantly taking on new heights. In so doing he is accompanied by friends in whom, in the most literal sense of the word, he can trust blindly. The hard core of this well-rehearsed rope team includes Daniel Rogger from Sexten and the two East Tyroleans, Vittorio Messini and Matthias Wurzer. It all started a few years ago with the ascent of the Cima Piccola via the Innerkofler route, at that time in the company of Daniel Rogger. Encouraged by this experience, many more climbing tours in rock and ice followed, in ever increasing levels of difficulty – until finally they also overcame the Comici-Dimai route on the north face of the Cima Grande. A project close to everyone’s hearts. In a team of three the friends conquered the around 500 metre-high, overhanging face in almost seven hours – a superb time, as Rogger emphasises. As a mountain guide for the Tre Cime Alpine School, he usually plans to cover this level 7 difficulty route in this time even with sighted climbers. For Gabriel Tschurtschenthaler, who is only able to rely on his sense of touch and the instructions of his fellow climbers, a climb like this is correspondingly much more difficult. Even if it is often no disadvantage not to be able to see every single chasm, jokes the Sesxten native. Recently he travelled to Patagonia with his East Tyrolean friends, where as a team of three they climbed the Aguja Poincenot and the virtually “impossible” Cerro Torre. A 40 kilometre approach, steeply towering ice walls and the extreme weather conditions on the Argentina-Chile border make the latter in particular one of the most difficult yet simultaneously most beautiful mountains in the world. For me it’s about the challenge, not necessarily the lovely view, laughs Tschurtschenthaler self-deprecatingly. And more dizzying adventures are, of course, already being planned. Onwards and upwards!