I admit it sounds like a cliché, but as a child I was extremely shy, I had no confidence in myself and it was climbing that changed me profoundly. Thanks to it, my character evolved and I became a different person from that insecure and introverted girl I was.
My first victories, first at a local, then national and international level, made me find confidence in myself, they allowed me to recognize that I was good at something, they taught me to know how to manage a multitude of different situations and that during the life you must never stop learning.
As a child I kept repeating: “I don't know how to do this”. When I started training hard and working on my weaknesses in climbing, I saw that with exercise, commitment and investing time and motivation I could improve, and that I did it well. This has taught me to accept challenges and face them with a positive mind.
In the Merano youth team I had the opportunity to participate in my first climbing trips and I realized that thanks to climbing you can travel a lot and get to know the world. During my time in the youth climbing team, I happened to be the only South Tyrolean to be qualified for international competitions and consequently I traveled alone by train to reach the team at the starting point for travel: I learned very early to be independent.
In addition to competitions, I also started traveling to the most beautiful climbing sites around Europe with friends older than me and thanks to these friends, coaches and mates I learned a lot from a very young age, from preparing a coffee on a camping gas to how to apply for a visa in foreign embassies, how to change flights at the largest airports in the world and to get by in remote places on my own.
I didn't have many friends at school, and at the secondary school I was also bullied. I was terrified of what others might think of me, whether they liked me or not.
When I started climbing, I was suddenly surrounded by boys and girls my age who had the same passion as me, with whom I could train, travel, compete and above all I could be myself and have fun with them. I understood that in life you cannot be friends with everyone and you can’t please everyone, but you can surround yourself with people who have the same interests and the same ideas, with whom you can share unique values and moments. Climbing has given me friends all over the world and I know that some of them will accompany me throughout my life.
Obviously no one can always win, indeed, during my activity as an athlete there have also been many defeats. There are races that didn't go as I hoped and routes that I couldn't do. There were times when I cried bitterly and was disappointed in myself and angry at what had caused the defeat. But my desire to climb and the desire to move forward and improve has always been greater than disappointment. I learned that after every defeat there is despair, which however is soon replaced by anger; the anger and the desire to redeem ourselves then turn into the happiness of having a new chance, to try again to give my best and to look forward with positivity.
Climbing has given me freedom, both physical and mental.
Photos and article by Angelika Rainer
Angelika Rainer, born in 1986, is Grivel athlete since 2005. Originally from South Tyrol (Italy), she became three times Ice Climbing World Champion and two times Ice Climbing World Cup winner. Today she practices rock climbing, ice climbing and drytooling. Grivel favorite product: Dark Machine X ice axes