I am a wilderness hiker, packrafter and adventurer with a growing passion for photography. Also, I am co-founder of Freedom Trips, a wilderness guide service based in Alaska, were I manage all guiding operations and instruct a guide school.
Born in 1987 as the second of six children I spent my first 21 years in school, civilian service and university in Germany; now I study Psychology at the University of Vienna, Austria. Besides being a student, sportsman and drummer, a variety of outdoor activities have unmistakably played a defining role in my life. As a teenager, hiking was just one of my hobbies, later it became what I would call a “passion”: the trips became longer, the destinations more remote, the preparations more time-consuming and the expenses greater.
Why am I doing this? I find this question difficult to answer. I think what started with curiosity and the excitement one feels when exploring something new, something that has seldom been seen or done before, has turned into continuous wonder and astonishment over the past few years of wilderness travel, and therefore it has become an indispensable part of my life. Looking back, I feel great certainty that traveling takes my life forward in many regards – not only do I gain understanding, knowledge and experience, it also gives me a sense of freedom and, more than just occasionally, moments of pure joy.
However, it’s not just about hiking. In 2010, I bought a packraft which I now describe as one of my favorite pieces of gear. Because it weighs so little and I can carry it wherever I want, rafting has become an essential element of my outdoor activities – it allows longer wilderness expeditions since I can combine both hiking and rafting. And it’s always good for a short float trip in the alps.
While the remote trail less wilderness areas of North America are where I primarily want to spend my travels, the exploration of other countries and cultures is also a major interest of mine. The weeks I spent in Uganda, Georgia, Lebanon and Ladakh were remarkable, especially experiencing different lifestyles, cultural habits and the hospitality of the people there. I think the Arab world and other areas east of there will become a more and more significant part of my travels in the next few years.
Finally, photography is a growing fascination for me. On one hand, I don’t consider myself a photographer, but a traveler. However, sharing my photos allows me to vividly communicate my travels with others; it’s a medium that causes people to see the beauty of the world, as well as the ups and downs of wilderness travels. I used to look at photography more as a “necessary evil”, but ever since spring 2011 when I bought my first DSLR, I really began to enjoy documenting my travels and have been trying my best to improve my skills.