Ulrich Huber’s hobby is an unusual one! On the surface, the software developer and family man leads a completely normal life, but there is a underlying passion within him: the need to save lives! Ulrich has been part of the mountain rescue team for almost 20 years. Voluntarily! He’s head of the local division in Ginzling near Mayrhofen but is not paid for his service. He offers his assistance because he wants to. Why? “If something ever happened to me, I’d be pleased if someone would come to my rescue.” Wow! Heroes who act purely out of goodwill really do exist.
Exhausting Volunteer Work
The 47-year-old is a quiet man, modest and a model of self-control. This man knows what he is doing. “You have to be fairly fit in order to ascend altitudes of more than 1000m”, he says. “In my free time I go running, hiking or cycling.” Over twenty years of service, Ulrich has been called out several hundred times – accordingly, he has also saved several lives. “In Ginzling, especially in the high season from May to September, we get between 30 to 40 call outs. It’s different in Mayrhofen with its ski resort and downhill mountain biking trails. Mayrhofen has the most call outs at around 50 per year.” Ulrich and his colleagues help with traffic accidents as well as rescues from glacial crevasses or climbing accidents. They even accompany lost hikers safely back to the valley.
26 hours of Psychological Exertion on the Mountain
Even Ulrich, with all of his experience, is sometimes pushed to his limits: a rescue attempt lasting 26 hours is enough to make even the most dedicated lifesaver exhausted. “My longest rescue mission was also the most difficult. A 26-hour rescue doesn’t just rob you of your strength but it is also psychologically exhausting”, remembers Ulrich. “In the middle of August a sudden cold front brought snow at 3000m. Two Czech hikers were caught up in the cold and one of them fell in a crevasse and broke his leg. Neither of them spoke any German or English. The language barrier made the rescue mission even harder because we couldn’t ascertain where exactly the injured hiker was. The next cold front swept in bringing with it a metre of fresh snow overnight. We worked all night until we were finally able to rescue the injured hiker- alive!” That was a real challenge: physically and mentally. “After a long mission I am really tired. The good feelings come later: I’ve made a difference and saved a life. That’s why I do this!” Ulrich can tell stories which would give you goosebumps. Many people view him as a hero – but that’s exactly what the volunteer doesn’t want. “Heroes don’t belong here”, he says. During rescue missions Ulrich always has to consider his safety and the safety of his team. It’s a matter of weighing up life and death, using experience and making the right decision. “How can I justify my actions?”