Bike Mountaineering

Feb 5, 2013 at 1:28
by Clemens Capeller  
Pic by summitride

Bike mountaineer Harald Philipp will be visiting Vancouver to give a multimedia presentation showcasing a European perspective on extreme mountain biking. The audience will be able to view photos and video of him hiking and climbing in amazingly scenic and exposed areas.

Bike Mountaineering - Harald Philipp Descending the Gnarliest Summits of the Alps: Tue Feb 12 at RIO Theatre Vancouver; Wed Feb 13 at Centennial Theatre Vancouver

Pic by summitride

You might recognize Harald from his videos on Pinkbike. His short movies "Sea of Rock" and "Into Thin Air" have already been published on Pinkbike, but if you want to learn more about Harald Philipp's adventures and live in the Vancouver area you can see him at this year's VIMFF.

Pic by summitride

Harald is already looking forward to his trip to Vancouver, BC, but I got the chance to asked him a few questions. Here is what Harald had to say:

Who is Harald Philipp?
I am a 29 year old professional mountain biker. Or better said, a mountain bike mountaineer. My discipline is carrying my bike up to alpine summits in order to descend glaciers, steep hiking tracks and via ferratas.

What can we expect in your multimedia presentation?
My presentation shows a European perspective on extreme mountain biking. We have very special terrain in the Alps. Every mountain range has already been developed for generations, so you can find trails and paths everywhere. We can’t dig any new runs into the wilderness though, but we have a world full of interesting runs to explore instead.

Pic by summitride

Pic by summitride

Some might have seen the short movies “Sea of Rock” and “Into Thin Air.” What else do you show in your lecture?
I filmed a lot last year to show scenes and situations that you would not typically shoot for an internet video. I want to take my audience all around the Alps to the most impressive mountain ranges, from my hometown of Innsbruck in Tirol to the Matterhorn and the Dolomites. Besides the riding, I want to show the background of bike mountaineering. The audience gets to see how we prepare for theses adventures, what kind of characters do it, how it all started, etc... It is important to me that my audience really gets a feeling for what we do; I want to share all the ambitions, fears and enjoyment with them.

It’s the first time you are presenting outside of Europe. What do you expect from your trip to Vancouver?
I am not too afraid of holding my lecture in English, but I am very curious on how the Canadians will react to our riding. Freeride mountain biking was born in BC and some of the craziest videos were filmed at your doorstep. The freeride movement spread all over the world. Our alpine riding is something completely different. It is all based on the special terrain we ride. You would call every ride we do “gnarly,” I guess. Obviously, we have less speed and almost no airtime. We don’t dig a perfect run for a bicycle, we have to adapt our riding to a track that has existed for ages.

Pic by summitride

Pic by summitride

What transpired to bring you to the VIMMF?
Alan Formanek, who organizes the VIMMF, had invited Tom Öhler and me to a mountain festival in Italy last fall. He saw my show there, and when he asked me to come to Vancouver I gladly accepted.

Any plans to do some riding while you're in BC?
Definitely. But not on a bike, I am keener on going skiing at this time of the year. See you in Whistler’s backcountry!

Pic by summitride

Pic by summitride

Back to biking, what’s your riding background?
Well, before I was riding at all, I was into mountains. I learned climbing and ski touring before I went to school. Mountain biking started a lot later. I went through all disciplines, riding XC races and marathons, then downhill and some freeride competitions before I came back to the mountains and found my own discipline.

Some pictures of your descents look pretty dangerous. Do you have any fear?
I think that if you feel afraid then you already went to far. Only if I have a good and positive feeling will I ride a dangerous section. If not, then I get off my bike and walk it down. Respect is something that is always necessary. On a mountain, you should not challenge your limits like in a bike park. What we do is a mountain sport like climbing or ski touring.

Pic by summitride

Pic by summitride

What is the worst injury you ever had?
Crashing is something that doesn't happen too often to me, luckily. But it is not just luck. In that terrain where we ride, crashing usually means falling off a mountain, so it is no option at all. Still there is a risk, even if we try to ride as save as possible. On average, I have two smaller crashes per season. Once I injured my knee ligaments, but all my bones are still intact.

How do you find your adventures and how do you prepare for them?
A lot of the preparation involves reading maps and internet forums. The Alps are full of alpine tracks, paths and via ferratas. Finding out which ones can be done by bike is the challenge.

Pic by summitride

Pic by summitride

How would you describe your riding style and what are your goals?
I try to ride as smooth and fluid as possible. My riding is not about challenging the most difficult sections of a run, it’s more about the complete adventure. After seeing Tom Öhler in “Sea-of-Rock” I started training in trials riding, so including that into my riding is definitely a goal for next season. Also, I want to take a look at other continents to maybe find some summits that haven’t seen bike-tracks yet.

Pic by summitride

Now you`re in Vancouver, BC, birthplace of freeriding and also the home of your clothing sponsor Arc'teryx. They have an amazing bunch of athletes from alpine climbing to skiing, but you`re the only biker. How did that come about?
What I do is half mountaineering and half mountain biking. Lycra or motocross-inspired freeride clothing definitely wouldn’t work on real summit adventures. Arc’teryx sponsors me for being a mountaineer. As far as I know, they don’t plan to make a bike collection in the future. You will even find me in the athletes list as a skier. But even if they don’t design their stuff for bikers , for me it is the best riding clothing I could imagine.

Anything you would like to add?
I am really stoked to get the chance to present my sport in Canada. I want to thank my sponsor Arc'teryx for making this possible, and I pray for some fresh snow for my ski trip after the events in Vancouver!

Here are the exact dates for his show at Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 7:30 pm (doors 6:30 pm), Rio Theatre
Wednesday, February 13, 7:30 pm (doors 6:30 pm), Centennial Theatre

All about VIMFF

For tickets:

And for those you haven´t seen "Into thin Air" and "Sea of Rocks" filmed by Sebastian Doerk here they are

Sea of Rock
Views: 66,847    Faves: 661    Comments: 44

Into Thin Air
Views: 73,197    Faves: 1,216    Comments: 114

A big thanks for the amazing pics goes to:
Sebastian Doerk /
Manfred Stromberg /
Uta Philipp /

And last but not least some "old school" Harald Philipp at Lago di Garda, Italy

vanilla double cookie dough chocolate chips from infinite trails on Vimeo.

1 Comment

  • 1 0
 i've attended the presentation this week in munich....
2 hours of perfekt pictures and videos...
only thing that sucks is the snow :-)

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