Age 25. The age when you think you have the strength to do anything, can uproot trees, shakeup storms and feel kind of invincible. Powerlifting, kickboxing, Wing Tsun and riding motorbikes were my most favourite hobbies at that time. Besides my job as car mechanic, I was an active member of the local volunteering fire brigade and working as a as bouncer on weekends.
One beautiful evening, I was out on a quick tour with my Yamaha FZR-400. I was just riding through a curve, when suddenly my rear wheel drifted off and I slid directly into direction of the metal guide rail. My motorbike crashed into one of the guide rail poles, I slid through under the guide rail down a slope and my left arm got dislocated. Luckily the muscles were strong enough, so there was no amputation. Unfortunately, the nerves of the arm got torn out of the backspin.
Since then, my left arm is completely paralyzed and neuropathic pain became my new, uninvited companion.
To be honest, it took me some time to realize what had happened and to understand the full scale of consequences. Then, I figured out that there is no time for pity parties and no time to waste. I started to learn everything from scratch. Write with my other hand, use cutlery, tie my shoelaces or cutting veggies. It took a lot of time and it was hard, sometimes frustrating. But “change is pain, not a wellness trip”, as they say. Luckily, I had big support from my family and friends. At some point I’ve realized that this was actually an amazing opportunity.
How many times in life do you get the chance to start from scratch and to be able to go into any direction you want?
I started trying to figure out what to do with my life and what job I could possibly do with my disability. Physical work was not really an option anymore. Therefore, I thought the smartest I could do, was to invest in my brain. First, I did my qualification for university entrance, then I went studying, graduated and went out to see the world.
In 2013, I moved from Austria to Dubai. Somehow the Arabian desert and its people have always fascinated me, so accepted a job offer there. Strangely enough, my new hobbies in this country weren’t what you would expect. It started with hiking and trekking but then also added climbing, and canyoning. Meeting people who climbed mountains all around the world, inspired me to start with mountaineering.
This is also how I met Jost Kobusch. He was just on his way back from Nepal, where he did the first ascent of Nangpai Gosum II. Solo, without oxygen, unsupported – Jost-style. He was visiting a common friend in Dubai, who introduced me to him. We went rock climbing together, close to the border of Oman. Jost asked me if I could imagine to join him for multi-pitch climbing in the Dolomites, Italy, the following year. I told him…
“My skills are not up to that level yet, but I will make sure they are going to be, when we meet again”.
The goal was set and for the next six months I went climbing a lot indoors and outdoors, plus I also did an alpine climbing course with the German Alpine Club (DAV).
Ahead of our event, we skyped a couple of times to plan further details. Where to go, which routes to climb, where to stay, etc. Eventually we decided to climb the Delagokante on Vajolet Towers and Punta Fiames in Cortina d’Ampezzo. However, I thought, could it be really interesting for Jost to climb with me? He is a pro-mountaineer who set records in this sport and I’m just an amateur. This guy needed a real challenge, something he has never done before. So I challenged him to climb the same way I do – single handed. He accepted, although he knew that it was going to be quite tough- just what he likes!
Seeing the big picture the motorbike accident was maybe the best thing that had happened to me in my life. I started hobbies of which I thought were impossible to do for me, I went to places I have never even thought of going to and I met people of different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. It feels like as if for 25 years I was looking at the world through a keyhole and all of a sudden, the whole door opened up.
I strongly believe that no matter how hard a challenge is, if you really want to find a way, you will find one. You just have to be persistent, passionate and maybe a bit stubborn. As our family credo is: