An Interview with Katharina Saurwein
We had a great opportunity to interview Katharina Saurwein recently, she’s super-strong, she’s beautiful and extremely talented on the rock. Katha is learning Dutch, planning to finish her degree in sports at the university in Innsbruck, loves books and mandalas. How cool is that?
Let’s see what her goals are and her impressions about a recent bouldering trip to RMNP.
Editor: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Katha. It is an honor for us, and we do appreciate your time.
Katharina Saurwein: No worries. You are welcome.
Editor: You’re from Innsbruck, Austria and climbing is your passion.
Can you tell us who Reinhold Scherer and Rupert Messner are and what is the respectful place they have in the story of your climbing career?
Katharina Saurwein: Reini Scherer was my first and longtime trainer. He was the one who brought me into sport climbing and without him I wouldn’t be where I am now. I taught me everything in climbing I know and not just me, but a lot of other climbers as well. Rupi Messner and him built up a big scene in Innsbruck and created a lot of successful competition and rock climbers.
Editor: When and where did you go climbing for the very first time?
Katharina Saurwein: My very first contact with climbing was when I was 7 years old at the Sport University of Innsbruck. I finished a swim course and at the summer feast you could try a lot of different sports. I saw the climbing wall, climbed up and loved it. I started my first course in September afterwards and stood with it.
Editor: What did that first climb feel like? First climbs are so special, one never forgets them.
Katharina Saurwein: I felt so light, had so much fun and just enjoyed it. When I was climbing I forgot everything around me and it is still like this and that is one of the things I like most about climbing. I can just be my self and don’t have to care about what’s going on around me.
Editor: Did you know then, that you would become a climbing role model? You have a huge fan base.
Katharina Saurwein: I didn’t. I never expected to become any good. I always just wanted to climb and as I was in the gym and later also on the rock a lot, I got stronger and stronger and I hope to still get stronger the next years…
Editor: You have a natural talent for climbing. You started competing, taking part in several European Youth Cups and won the Junior World Championship in 2006 in Imst (Austria).
But you have pointed out that it is not about medals and competitions. It is much more than that.
What did you mean by that, Katha?
Katharina Saurwein: Of course it is nice to win and to do well in competitions, but having fun in all of that and being satisfied with your climbing is a way more important to me. It’s about enjoying the training, having fun with people, about climbing outside, being in the nature, experiencing new things and about seeing the worldwide rocks, climbs, culture, people.
Editor: Let’s chat about your trip to the RMNP. You tackled Lower Chaos (Bush Pilot) V11, Upper Chaos (Riddles in the Park) V12 and that was amazing to watch.
Upper Chaos (Eternia V12) your work on this boulder problem was so fluid and just beautiful.
I can say the same for Lower Chaos (Nuthin’ But Sunshine V13). Each move was just precise, and you crushed it and I’m sure it will be inspiring to all of your fans.
Which problem was your personal favorite?
Katharina Saurwein: I can’t really pick a favorite problem. They were all amazing and all so different. I had a lot of fun figuring out the beta, trying them and climbing them. Every problem has something interesting, Eternia for example is this really powerful roof with a crack leading through it.
Nuthin’ But Sunshine therefor has a really tricky heelhook, which took me quite a while to figure out how to make it stay, and this dynamical move at the end. So you see that every problem has it difficulties and figuring those out is what I like the most.
Watch the video featuring Katha and Jorg ‘Stomping Grounds’ here:
Editor: When you’re not bouldering and climbing, what sports do you enjoy?
Katharina Saurwein: I actually like a lot of different sports. I like to play Basketball, Beach volleyball, Squash, Inline skating, Luging and so on. The only thing I am not really fan of is endurance sport, but maybe I might change my mind in the future…
Editor: Where would you love to visit and climb around the globe?
Katharina Saurwein: Where I really want to go is Australia. I have never been there and I wanted to already go there five years ago, but it never worked out. That is also why Jorg and I are already planning a trip there this autumn. I am really excited to climb there, especially in the Grampians and the Blue Mountains. I only know it from videos and pictures and it looks amazing…
Editor: It really is beautiful out there. Here’s an important and emotionally deep question that not many climbers are able to answer. I asked Jorg the same question when I interviewed him.
Why do you climb, Katha? In a spiritual (nature is so spiritual and pure) or philosophical sense, what does it give you?
Katharina Saurwein: Climbing gives me peace. Everybody need to find something that gives them inner satisfaction and for me that is climbing. As I said before: When I climb, I don’t think. I am living the moment. I can forget about the everyday problems and just be and enjoy myself.
Editor: What a great answer! What are your thoughts on the preservation of nature and climate change?
Katharina Saurwein: Of course nature and its preservation are really important. Climbers and everybody going outside should have the least impact as possible and leave the climbing area as they found it and I think it is clear that you don’t leave trash or anything behind. We should be thankful that there are so beautiful places on the earth and where you can climb ant it is important to keep it that way.
Editor: Let’s talk about you…when you have a little time to yourself, what kind of books do you read and what kind of music do you enjoy?
You also love mandalas, is that correct?
Katharina Saurwein: I don’t really listen to music. I don’t mind if there is any, but I am not turning the radio on to get relaxed or something like that.
But I do like to read books which describe stories, taking place in different countries, telling true stories a lot. I think it is really interesting to read about foreign countries, cultures and people and what they experienced.
And also Mandalas I really like. I started to colour mandalas when I was still a child with my grandmother and since then I really like it. You can create something beautiful, play with colours and it really relaxes me.
Editor: That's fascinating, Katha. Mandalas are beautiful. Your fans really enjoy seeing you and Jorg climb together and empower each other. You both just might be climbing’s new power-couple!
You both share the same dream of climbing, and can be counted on to help each other emotionally, and this can be a source of much strength when you’re with someone who understands you.
How did you and Jorg first meet?
Katharina Saurwein: We saw each other first at the European Youth Competitions, which we both joined. But only when he came to Innsbruck to train and climb we really met and fell in love.
So you can say that climbing led us together and now we are climbing together and I enjoy it. It’s nice to have the same dream and to live it together, to go on climbing trips together, to train together and to go through the ups and downs together.
Editor: That is so awesome. Thanks again for talking to us, Katha. Please drop by and talk with us again.
Katharina Saurwein: Thank you.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Climbing Page 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © of the designated photographer and used with Jorg and Katha's written permission.
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On the Cover: Katharina Saurwein
Cover Date: 25th, 2015