22 Summits Stories

The mountain runner Andreas Steindl

Not everything has to be extreme and fast - Andreas Steindl can also move leisurely in the mountains. When he works as a mountain guide and is on the road with guests, for example. While he is in the process of helping mountain tourists fulfil their lifelong dream, a thought still sometimes crosses his mind here and there: "How fast could I have covered that distance?"

That has nothing to do with impatience: Andreas Steindl is a mountain runner. He measures himself on the climbs of Zermatt. "Running is like meditation for me. There is nothing but: You and the mountain and the moment. It's an intense feeling." What is a strenuous tour for others is a walk for the extreme athlete: a short run up the Rimpfischhorn and a quarter of an hour later he lands in front of the house with his paraglider. Simply marvellous.

On 19 August 2015, Andreas Steindl ran from Zermatt to the Alphubel via Täschhorn, Dom, Lenzspitze and Nadelhorn to Saas Fee in 7:45:44 hours at the age of 26: 4015 vertical metres uphill, 3900 vertical metres downhill, a total of 30.66 kilometres. In trail running shoes - solo. He beat his own record from 2013 by 78 minutes.

Then, on 3 September 2018, a new record: Steindl runs from Kirchplatz Zermatt to the Matterhorn and back in 3:59:52 hours. He has already been to the top 88 times, but never at this speed. "The Matterhorn is my playground," says Steindl. "The mountain offers so much variety. Ice, snow, rock and always different conditions." Andreas' greatest inspiration and motivation are his friends: "We don't know competition. In mountain sports, you don't begrudge each other success." At 14, he climbed the Matterhorn for the first time and then learned to suffer in mountain races: "That's where I train toughness. It's important to finish a race, even if you come in last. Once you start with the mentality that you give up, then that runs through your whole life."

In the Alpine region, all mountains have been climbed so far. Nevertheless, alpine sports continue to develop. The young generation has to look for other challenges. "There is always criticism," says Andreas Steindl. "Most people don't understand the training behind such achievements. They have the feeling: That's not possible! Is he crazy? He's risking his life! Pointless!"

Even the imagination of his friends occasionally exceeds what Andreas makes possible. "I was on the Matterhorn filming Andreas," says his friend, the professional freerider and mountaineer Sam Anthamatten. "All of a sudden I get a message from my brother: Andie is through in the Furi, he says. We're still on the shoulder of the Matterhorn and he's almost down again. From the summit to the Solvay Hut in 13 minutes. With a good guest you're on the way for an hour. Then the next day he's at my construction site to help."