Mountain Speed - An Interview with Jeremie Heitz and Dani Arnold
Like a swarm of bees, or a flock of birds - a ramble of outdoor enthusiasts will descend on Cumbria this month for the annual Kendal Mountain Festival.
Now in its 17th year, the four-day event offers the chance for industry specialists, athletes, manufacturers and fans of the great outdoors to share adventures and celebrate achievements.
With a fascinating programme of film premieres, talks, debates, exhibitions and workshops attracting amateurs and professionals from around the world, Cotswold Outdoor is proud to be the official retail partner for the Festival.
One of the highlights, and a not to be missed event this year, is Mammut’s Mountain Speed Session on Sunday 19th November, with steep skier Jeremie Heitz, the world's most exciting skier-of-the-moment who tackles death-defying descents across the globe; and speed climber Dani Arnold who holds a phenomenal list of climbing achievements - including a climb of the north face of the Eiger in just 2 hours and 28 minutes, and climbing solo up the legendary Matterhorn north face in just 1 hour and 46 minutes.
We caught up with the fastest men in the mountains ahead of their talk to find out what keeps them on their toes.
You both specialise in speed! Is this because it’s a final frontier where you can still push yourself? Or is there a limit you can reach?
Dani: “For me speed is one discipline of alpinism. Fortunately I have got the skills to do this. I really like to push myself in almost every part of climbing. I think the limit will never be reached. Time and development will never stand still.”
Jeremie: “Not really, I don’t want to push it just to be the first to do it, it's simply my personal evolution on skis. The limit is always there, yes, but I think it is about perfect timing and good preparation.”
Do you have an ultimate speed goal?
Dani: “Yes I still have some goals for the future, but I don’t like to speak about them in advance”
Jeremie: “Aha ha no, absolutely not. My goal is to know what we can do with these two planks of wood under our feet and especially to ski a beautiful and direct line on beautiful mountains. The aesthetic part is really important to me.”
What’s your favourite piece of Mammut gear, and how has this helped you during your adventures?
Dani: “I really like the Nordwand Pro HS suit, [an all in one weather proof suit for extreme alpinists] because I was quite closely involved during its development. It’s not only for ice or mixed climbing, I used the suit last week in the Grane Jorasses Northface with a client and it worked perfectly with fully free movement and it kept me warm.”
Jeremie: “Hard to choose! I would say the lightness and functionality of the Ultralight Removable Airbag 3.0!”
How does Mammut support you and enable you to push yourself?
Dani: “Mammut helps me very much. It’s only with a partner of that kind that I am able to achieve my dreams. Sometimes I get difficult requests or hard decisions and I can always ask Mammut for an honest opinion.”
Jeremie: “They give me the opportunities to perform the best I can in the mountain by giving me amazing products and strong support. They are listening to our feedback and they propose new solutions to make it even better. It's team work!”
What are you hoping to get across to your audience at the Kendal Mountain Festival?
Dani: “My main goal is to meet friends and good people. I have been to the UK in the past several times, and it was always a pleasure. But also, I would like to inspire and show something about my projects and adventures all over the world.”
Jeremie: “I hope to make them travel across the age by showing what the precursors did back in the days, it inspired me a lot, and I would love to inspire them too.”
You have both been in the mountains from a very young age – is that the key to succeeding in your sports?
Dani: “I wouldn’t say that, but it makes it easier. When I look back on my childhood, I got so much experience which was important for my future.”
Jeremie: “It helps of course. Also the education I had, by living in a ski resort, all the free time I had was for skiing, but I wouldn't say it’s the key, the key is practising and getting experience I think.”
Jeremie Heitz © Mammut archive Tero Repo
How can we improve our mountaineering and skiing abilities? Do you have any simple tips?
Dani: “Try being outside as much as possible. Stay hungry by learning new stuff, and ask yourself everyday what can I improve next time.”
Jeremie: “Depending how you want to improve your abilities, sharing your holiday in the mountains with people you love is a perfect learning process and it will let you forget the name of your boss!”
Have you ever stood on top, or bottom, of a mountain and felt the fear?!
Dani: “Yes it happens sometimes. If I have a bad sensation, I must be able to say no. It’s very important.”
Jeremie: “Yes, of course! I feel the fear every time I perform in the mountain and I think it’s a positive feeling. The fear makes you aware of surprises or any bad feeling you may have.”
Dani, you have been climbing in Scotland a lot lately. What is it about the terrain there that brings you back? And do you have any plans to climb in Scotland again soon?
“Nothing planned yet, but I will definitely go back. For me Scotland is more adventure and I really like the spirit and people in this country. They have some strong climbs although no “big Mountains“ that’s great:-)”
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