UIMLA Mountain Leader
It's a wrap!

Zugspitze (2962 m)

How it all started

We stood somewhat awkwardly at safe distance in the parking lot below the peak of Kanzelwand. Until the final email the day before, I didn't believe that the assessment center to start training as a mountain leader by the Association of German Mountain and Ski Guides (VDBS), which is part of the Union of Moauntain Leader Associations (UIMLA), would actually take place. Although the assessment was initially postponed by six months, reduced from two days to one and moved from Mittenwald to Kleinwalsertal in Austria in order to meet all existing Corona requirements, it actually took place.

With racing number 23, I started in the last quartet of participants and shortly afterwards ran on the slushy ski slope upwards  to Kanzelwand. A similar feeling to the one this weekend during the final exam arose. Finally it started, I could finally show what I had trained so hard for in the months before. The previous summer, I had collected countless tours in the Alps from Salzburg to Chamonix for a tour report that I submitted in advance. And then the weekly training sessions in the nearby hills of Bonn to now conquer almost a thousand meters in altitude in less than 90 minutes.

The race is on

For the final exam I had much less time, as I was leaving my old job, moving out of my flat, and finishing last assignments for my Master's degree at the same time. Ten days after Easter had to be enough to memorize the theoretical basics of weather, snow and avalanche rescue, as well as ecology, orientation and first aid. In addition, I had to extend my language skills in English, French and Italian to include mountain jargon and perfectionise some basic rope handling for emergency situations. I was positive that I could pass. Now it was a question of how much energy I could still mobilise to study for this final examination. Another strong push to the final end – I still had it in me!

Yet, three years earlier in the assessment center, I knew that the fitness test could break my neck. Everyone knows how slowly I usually walk in the mountain. But I was lucky. Antje was in my group and we started talking even before we were divided into groups. We both had to cancel traveling plans because of Corona, we had similar interests and I immediately felt familiarity. So we ran against time together in silent agreement. Antje, leading at a steady pace, kept looking over her shoulder to check on me. And I followed - with a calm pulse, I was faster than I had hoped and got to the top precisely on time. 

A match from Day 1...

The next day I received the positive email on my birthday and shortly afterwards the hoped-for message from Antje that she had also made the cut. We registered for the first course and did the first part of the training together. In between, life led us in different directions and we paused the training for a year without knowing of each others plans. In between, we didn't see each other for months and only kept in touch irregularly, but our paths still crossed at times. We ventured into the mountains together, yet the passed time never changed the old familiarity. So many deep conversations that resonated for a long time and pushed me forward on my chosen path. So many memorable, beautiful mountain experiences that created a lot of strength for all the challenges that lay ahead of us and that further strengthened the bond between us.

...and a friendship for life!

So I wasn't surprised when we ended up booking the same final exam dates without knowing it. Just as we did the entry exam together, we preped the days before and in the end celebrated our graduation last weekend in the most beautiful sunshine in front of the backdrop of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze.

Over the course of my life, I have had some memorable encounters with people, where I can still remember exactly how I met them for the first time. There was always an unfounded familiarity in these moments, which I always describe as feeling like our souls already knew each other from before. My closest friendships have arisen from all of these encounters. Sometimes I don't see these people for years and yet when we see each other again, it feels like yesterday that we had seen each other for the last ttime.By now I recognize this feeling and when it occurs I know that I have found a new life companion again.

Happy Birthday

By passing the UIMLA final exam, I gave myself the biggest birthday present a few days early this year and I'm incredibly excited to celebrate my birthday on my first Shanti Treks tour in Corsica in a few days. Dear Life, bring it on again – I am ready for embracing you to the fullest!