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      Gretlwandl climbing wall in Scheiblingkirchen (Bucklige Welt)

    Marriage and Climbing: “He Always Takes the Drill on Holiday With Him”

    Ewald and Herta Gauster have been climbing together for 35 years and place complete trust in one another when doing so. The couple also secures old climbing routes that would otherwise be left untended. Find out why this means that the drill has been taken on one or the other holiday in the past.

    It’s a clear and sunny day as Ewald and Herta Gauster make their way into the forest. The floor is still damp from yesterday’s rain, little drops of water fall from the leaves; you feel like you are on a “Lord of the Rings” set. One behind the other, the couple trudges along a narrow path through the fairytale forest with individual rays of sunshine falling through the canopy of leaves until a steep rock face appears before them. They have reached their goal.

    Climbing With a Drill

    Ewald takes the equipment out of his backpack with practised hands: climbing harness, helmet, rope, drill. Drill? Yes, Ewald and Herta are not just here to climb; they have work to do too – essential and, in extreme cases, lifesaving work. For almost forty years they have been checking, securing, and renewing climbing routes in Austrian climbing gardens, sometimes on behalf of the Austrian Alpine Club, but mostly out of their pure passion for a safer sport.

    “When you see others enjoying what you have done and appreciating it, that’s actually reward enough for me”, says Ewald.

    Climbing hooks and drill hooks

    Climbing, Drilling, Placing Bolts

    With an experienced eye, Ewald gets an overview of the current situation at the Gretlwand near Scheiblingkirchen, an hour’s drive south of Vienna. Some of the existing climbing bolts do not conform to standards, are old, partly rusted or no longer hold securely in the rock. It’s time to get to work.

    “Is the end of the rope long enough? Knot? Good.” - “The harness is fine too.” - "Has the rope been fed into the backup device correctly and the screwgate carabiner closed securely?" - "Good."

    Ewald is already hanging on the rock face, belayed by his wife Herta. They both appear to be completely relaxed and trust each other blindly. Ewald removes the bolts that have become dangerous from the rock, pauses for a moment, then begins to drill. A brief buzzing, a little dust, and the new, safe hook can be attached to the rock.

    Ewald Gauster with climbing equipment at Gretlwandl in Scheiblingkirchen (Bucklige Welt)

    Silent Guardian Angels

    There’s always plenty to be done. In addition to placing new bolts, Ewald and Herta remove loose grips and steps, clean them, and clear the routes of branches. They also set new, secure routes. “Our aim is to increase safety in the climbing garden”, says Ewald. “This equipping, setting, and cleaning does not happen by itself.” That is why he has taken on this task, like an elf that ensures climbers are safe – with his wife as his little helper.

    A lot has happened since Ewald placed his first bolts in the 1980s: he has now attached a total of 20,000 to climbing walls and set up 2,000 new routes. An unusual hobby? Yes, but when climbers “get back safely in the evening and say: ‘Ewald, it was great, thank you for the routes’, then that’s satisfaction for me.”

    Ewald Gauster climbing the Gretlwandl in Scheiblingkirchen (Bucklige Welt)

    A Climbing Love Story

    Ewald and Herta are a practised team. “Climbing and marriage go hand in hand”, says Ewald. And that’s no surprise, as they met whilst climbing. “We realised we both love climbing and enjoyed one another, and that’s how we grew so close over the years that one no longer works without the other.” In the meantime, the couple has been climbing together for more than 35 years – and Ewald’s soft spot for safe climbing routes has even shaped their travels: “He always took the drill on holiday with him; it had to come along”, Herta remembers with a smile. “It can be exhausting having the drill with you almost every day that you go climbing and the dust trickling out of your backpack come evening.” 

    •                     Herta Gauster
    •                     Gretlwandl climbing wall in Scheiblingkirchen (Bucklige Welt)
    •                     Safety is the top priority when climbing

    Basic Trust and Sport for Life

    First business, then pleasure: the bolts have been secured along the Gretlwand, now it’s time to climb. “Every muscle is put to use in some way and always outdoors amidst nature; that’s what appeals to me most”, Ewald raves about his sport for life. The sun is now high, shining down on the water drops and making the fairytale forest sparkle. Ewald and Herta swap places. It’s his turn to belay her as she nimbly scales the steep rock face. Ewald smiles: “We actually have an unspoken consent; we know what’s going on, what the other one is doing. That basic trust is vital to me.“

    Author: Johanna Schönfeld

    Climbing Garden / High Ropes Course / Via Ferrata

    A climbing garden is a climbing facility on natural rock faces, in quarries or on buildings, which is secured with various elements to offer climbers a comparatively safe environment that requires little effort to climb securely.

    A high ropes course is a climbing park that consists of different artificially constructed platforms attached to utility poles.

    A via ferrata is a climbing path on a natural or artificially created rock, secured with iron ladders, rungs, pegs, and ropes.

    View over Bucklige Welt

    Top Climbing Walls in Austria

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      Climbing Trains Body and Mind Climbing Trains Body and Mind

      Climbing provides a full body workout that uses every single muscle, but also strengthens mental abilities such as concentration and self-confidence. And climbing as a team demands mutual trust and a sense of responsibility. In order to enjoy the sport and keep the risks as low as possible, you must be able to rely on your climbing partner firmly, and vice versa, of course. Every grip counts, when climbing and when belaying!

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