Marmot athlete Stephan Gander tells us about his breathtaking hike- and fly-tour to the summit of the Nederjoch and why these special moments mean so much to him.
After the first snowfall in the mountains, I immediately picked up my cell phone and wrote my friend Markus a message whether he would like to hike somewhere in the snow. Markus was enthusiastic because he thought the same. So we met at his place in the Stubai Valley and we decided to hike on a mountain called Nederjoch. Kevin, a good friend of Markus, joined us.
Markus (also known as “Skyman”) is one of the most experienced pilots and also a developer of paragliders. Markus – “Skyman” – is flying for 35 years and has completed around 20,000 flight hours. I am very happy that he gives his experiences to me every day. It’s just fun to fly with people like him.
To the summit of the Nederjoch
We made our way to the summit of the Nederjoch at around 8 am. Markus has stayed overnight on the summit with his sleeping bag so often, that the locals have named the mountain “mount skyman”. The weather was beautiful, but the forecast said that the wind will get much stronger. We trudged through the snowy winter landscape towards the summit. At these moments I am very glad to live in such a beautiful place. Sometimes we stopped to take some photos. After about an hour of walking the snow was getting deeper.
As we arrived at the Nederjoch we didn’t have much time to enjoy the view because the wind got stronger and stronger, but we decided to start directly from the summit. Such wind conditions are not a problem for Markus because he has the necessary experience. But for Kevin and me it was a bit challenging. When Kevin opened the wing it was clear to me, that the start would not be easy. The glider pulled Kevin briefly a few meters into the lee. But he was able to fight his way against the wind and started towards the valley. Then Markus gave me a tip: I should start right at the edge. So I tried this and it worked out perfectly.
Flying in the air – feeling free and enjoy every second
I love the indescribable feeling when the wing takes of the ground and I’m flying through the air. Then I just feel free and enjoy every second. Right at the beginning Markus flew past me and screamed to me full of joy. On that day it was even possible to soar. Soaring is only possible when a constant wind hits a rising terrain, which creates an updraft. In this updraft you can fly without losing altitude. It is different from thermal flying because there is no solar radiation necessary. I consciously flew along the ridge towards the fog. As soon as my shadow was appearing in the fog, a “broken spectre” was created. Well recognizable in the video, but in reality this was an unbelievable moment. Then I made my way to the landing area. Above there I reduced my altitude by flying a few wing-overs. This maneuver is difficult but also a lot of fun.
The balance to the everyday life
As soon as you are back on the ground you have to process what you have experienced. I’ve done many things in my life, but nothing has flashed me as much as paragliding. For me it is a really good balance to the stressful and crazy everyday life. I am glad that I have the possibility to experience such moments with friends, especially when they love the same thing as I do – to hike up a mountain and to take the fastest way down – with a paraglider.
Thanks to Marmot for always keeping me warm with their awesome clothes they are creating! Like in this adventure I was wearing the Marmot Nova 2.0 Hoody.