Back on Board and in the Mountains

THE MOUNTAINS WERE CALLING

Believing that what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger, the highly-motivated mountaineer, Anna Reisenauer, who once soloed 4x4000m including Mont Blanc in 24 hours, is determined to snowboard again and rediscover her mountain mojo...

Returning to mountain sports was more challenging than I had ever imagined after a forced hiatus of 5 years. I had several surgeries during that time and my relationship, which had initiated my move to the lowlands out of love, failed, I realised that I must return to where I was happiest - back to the mountains and snowboarding.

My motto has always been: 'Once a mountain person, always a mountain person'. After recovering from physical and emotional setbacks, the decision to return to the mountains as soon as possible wasn't difficult. As I single-handedly managed the entire move from the lowlands back to the mountains, it became clear to me that I had to get back into mountain sports.

I unpacked all my equipment, including ski and snowboard gear, touring skis, mountain and climbing equipment from storage boxes and made a list of missing equipment that I had sold during my mountain hiatus or discarded due to aging.

While contemplating which discipline to dive into first, I immediately resumed endurance and strength training to rebuild my foundation of coordination and conditioning.

FIRST TURNS

Since my move in the winter, it quickly became apparent that I wanted to focus on snowboarding.

Every beginning is tough, whether you've learned it before or starting anew. Standing on a board again, last winter, after such a long time felt terrible at first. A good friend agreed to accompany me on my first outing, starting in the children's area, where I held on with both hands and felt like a beginner.

However, he suddenly let go, and I unexpectedly began making the first turns on my own. My friend, of course, couldn't resist making fun of me and shouted that we'd meet at the chairlift shortly. That was the moment when I realised I wanted to do nothing else but board again. But I also knew it would be a long journey to get back to where I once was.

Months went by, but since I had only moved back to the mountains in February, the winter season was too short for me. Loaded with energy and motivation, I was frustrated that I hadn't had more time to train and improve my skills because the winter season was already ending.

Anyone who knows me knows how ambitious and determined I am, and once I set my mind on something, I follow through. So, I began thinking about how to shorten the winter season break.

YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD

My friends, colleagues, and acquaintances started making fun of me. Some asked why I wanted to prove myself again, while others claimed I was too old to start over. And a few suggested I should pick a different sport at my age (mid-thirties).

I believe one is never too old for change, to try something new, or revive something old. With time, people become more fearful. So, don't be afraid to do something that could change your life. Always remember, it could be your greatest chance to fulfil your lifelong dream. I began teaching myself tricks through videos and even hired private freestyle instructors, who ended up emptying my wallet more than teaching me anything valuable.

It didn't fulfil me, and it didn't improve my learning progress as I had hoped. Therefore, I had to come up with another idea, so I chased the snow to spend more time on the board. I booked a freestyle snowboard camp in America for the summer.

SERIOUS SETBACKS

My moto is to keep going even when fate throws obstacles in your path. In America, I suffered a serious fall when I crashed onto my back from the air. Unfortunately, the symptoms only became apparent after I returned home.

This accident set me back considerably. At the hospital, it turned out that my spine had shifted and I had apparently suffered a whiplash injury in the fall. The nerves in my spine, which are responsible for balance, had been compressed by the muscles. This led to sudden dizziness and balance problems, making me feel as if I were drunk every day, with significant back pain.

However, I didn't let it break me, and a few months later, I was back on the board at the Hintertux Opening in 2023. Unfortunately, there, an unexpected ice patch tore the board out from under my feet, and I fell hard on my knees with a loud thud. I immediately felt nauseous and my leg swelled up. When I got back to my room, I noticed that my whole leg was bruised and twice as swollen as the other one.

I immediately feared that my winter season was over. However, the doctor informed me that I had been lucky. No torn ligaments, no damaged meniscus, only pooled blood in the shin along with injury fluid. I am currently in physiotherapy for my spine, but I believe and hope that everything will be back to normal for this winter season, without further delays.

SUPPORT OF OTHERS

A pro snowboarder once said in an interview: "I believe that people who support you are extremely important; nothing is possible without them".

Of course, it's easier when you have the support of others. I am living proof that it's possible even without support. Why? Not because I chose it willingly, but because I grew up without parents and siblings, and I lack the financial support, as well as the understanding and support of colleagues, friends, or similar, which might strengthen me. I never had proud parents in the audience, cheering as my competitors' parents did as soon as they achieved something.

Yet, I have almost achieved everything I set my mind to and continue on my path to fulfilling my next lifelong dream, even if I have to go it alone.

FACING FEARS

The fear of looking like a fool and not appearing professional or qualified enough holds many people back from pursuing their passion and makes them hesitant to try something for fear of appearing foolish. However, looking like a fool is part of the process when you're trying something new or getting back into a sport that you used to be good at.

Everyone looks like an idiot when they try something new, including me, but you have to start somewhere if you truly have the determination to learn. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people judge others for their plans simply because they don't fit societal norms. They always find something to criticise. Whether it's being too old to start something new or the high risk of injury that comes with any sport.

Most of the time, those who judge us are the ones suffering from low self-esteem, no longer having the courage to trust themselves, or have stopped believing in and pursuing their own dreams.

RETURN TO CONQUERING MOUNTAINS

The reason I'm writing this blog is because I was asked about my return to the mountains and mountain sports. My goal is to give hope to those who want to live their dreams but are constantly held back, ridiculed, or oppressed by others, and therefore, lack the courage to pursue their dreams.

I am going through the same situation every day as well. However, I don't let it deter me. A friend once told me not to waste energy or time on people or things I can't change. If you can't change them, change the situation yourself. It's always the case in life that people get on and off the same train.

As painful as it may be, I've come to terms with the fact that it's sometimes for the best to part ways with people or things, even if they seemed important in the beginning. Being ridiculed by others only makes me stronger. However, they should not forget that I have climbed and conquered mountains in my life that others only know from maps. I have already fulfilled one lifelong dream, and I will do it again. Just like you!

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE

This winter season, I would like to expand my skills in snowboarding. I'm not too proud to accept any help offered to me, but I value people and their time, not the money that can buy anything nowadays. Even fame in sports.

My future goal is to conquer the mountains with snowshoes and a board on my back and ride in the backcountry. I had this idea because I was wondering how I could fulfil my next lifelong dream without having to rent an unaffordable helicopter like others do. So I have to hike. It sounds crazy but I love trying things that are not so common. Where others stop at the edge of their comfort zone because it's uncomfortable, I'm just getting started.

PURSUE YOUR DREAMS

Never stop pursuing your dreams; I will surely fulfil mine. Even if I have to go the path alone. I am different from others because I am a doer, not like many who constantly make excuses for why their plans failed or never even began.

I'm not perfect either; I willingly pay the price for each of my mistakes, but that's where I learn and grow from within. It can sometimes be frustrating because I have no one to point out my mistakes, but it also makes me stronger because I can proudly say that I have achieved everything on my own until today.

See you again. Where? In my new snowboarding lifelong dream.

In Alaska!!!

back on the snowboard
 

WITH THANKS

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all those who have supported me the most so far. 

A special thanks goes to my best friend Axel, his professional expertise, patience and advice have been invaluable to the success of my work.

I would like to thank Herby who took it upon himself to put me back on my snowboard after a 5-year break and take my first turns. 

Finally, I would like to thank my photographer, Herbert. 

Follow Anna, Summit Hunter 

Photographer: Herbert Weissgerber

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