PAZNAUN PEOPLE: STEFAN SIEGELE, CHAIR OF THE ISCHGL MOUNTAIN GUIDE ASSOCIATION

Stefan Siegele is 37 years old, was born and grew up in Ischgl, works as a ski and mountain guide and has been the chair of the mountain guide association for two years. He speaks with Trsianna about the feeling of happiness that only the mountains can give him, and explains why he can’t imagine ever moving away from his homeland.

Stefan, you’ve been in the association for 17 years now. How did it all begin?
I trained as a carpenter – so I was already used to dizzying heights. That’s how I got into climbing. A local guy then more or less took me along with him into the mountains and then encouraged me to do the mountain guide exam, too. That’s how I got involved with the association.

And then you decided to take your career in that direction, too.
That’s right, I was 20 at the time, and for me it was fairly clear that this was what I wanted to do.

How do you feel when you are out in the mountains?
Even though it’s my job, I still manage to leave all the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind me when I’m out there. You become quieter, inside you especially. You head is freer – you are just much more aware of what’s important. I very often think how lucky I am. I mean, so many people have to sit in front of a mobile phone or computer for work, I have it so much better.

Although scrambling around a mountain is definitely riskier than clicking on a mouse.
Everything is relative. Of course mountain climbing always involves an element of risk, and anyone who does it intensively has always had a stroke of luck in some way once or twice. But you’re never one hundred percent safe – whether you’re up on the mountain or just crossing the road.

What’s the situation with new recruits in your group?
That’s a bit of a problem in fact. Young people do like to go skiing but not many like tours or mountain climbing, at the moment they prefer to go to the fun park. It’s also true that the entrance exam is very difficult. There’s a lot of respect for it.

When you look down into the valley from up here, is there anything which would get you to leave here?
I don’t think so. I grew up here, I have inherited land and property here. My workplace is a hundred metres from my front door. I can pretty much rule out ever going away anywhere else.