No chopper. No plane. That’s how Stefan Glowacz gets to his climbing destinations. Whether he is canoeing down a river in the Venezuelan jungle or kayaking between ice flows in Northern Canada. For eight years, he won numerous tournaments, including 3 victories at the Rock Master Competition in Arco, Italy. Then, in 1993, he tackled The Emperor’s New Clothes in Austria’s Kaiser Mountains – one of the hardest routes in the world at the time. After retiring from competition climbing, he’s been adventure climbing ever since.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life? Or last week?
Discovering a new route on Roraima. We named it “Behind the Rainbow” in memory of our friend Kurt Albert. There are holds no one has held before there. Rock no one’s stepped on. Where you’re the first to see a view, the first to summit. For me, that’s what it’s about. The adventure. It’s like, how much is there, that we don’t know about? I want to find it. Live and breathe it.
What drives you to keep on getting out there time after time, to do more, to experience more?
Clarity. Every time I take off, I come back a different person. When I’m out there, I don’t have distractions. Solutions become easier. Clearer. Whether it’s heavy winds, altitude sickness, equipment failure. You have to talk to your team straight away. What’s your next move? You’re forced to decide. There’s not the same urgency away from the mountains. But it’s not just climbing hurdles. It’s solutions to inner conflicts, too. Something about the solitude and simplicity of the mountains.
Why do you use GORE-TEX gear?
Being in control is so important. Out there, it’s everything. That’s part of the beauty of the experience. You’re at the mercy of the environment. But you can meet it on a level playing field. There are things you do have control over. Who you climb with. And your gear. GORE-TEX products give that control in tough situations. I can’t control a storm. But what jacket I bring to protect me? I can control that.
In ten words or less, what would you say you’re “made for…”?
Exploring. I’m made for finding the unknown.
I come across a lot of tough conditions. Hot sun. Cold air. Rough rock. My GORE-TEX jacket sees me through the ups and downs. I’m comfortable. Whether I’m tackling a steep multi-pitch climb or resting. I can count on it to keep me dry and warm, no matter how wild the weather gets. I can keep going in conditions that, without it, would maybe make me hesitate. It’s good to have that reassurance
- Crossed Greenland – west coast to east coast – by ski, sledge and sow kites – free-climbing an unclimbed rock face on the way.
- Free climbs Brazil’s hardest big rock route in Pedra Riscada. Elevation: 800m.
- First ascent of Take the Long Way Home route on wall on Baffin Island, Canada. Elevation: 700m.
- Nominated for Piolet d'Or for establishing 27-pitch route up north wall of Mullarón, Patagonia.
- Founded climbing gear company Red Chili, with Uwe Hofstädter.
- Won Rock Master Competition in Arco, Italy.