Going up: meet David Lama

New TV shows, new movies, and new climbs – the Austrian climbing star is always ascending.
David Lama climbs up the Nameless Tower © Corey Rich/Mammut Archiv/Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Sampiero

Finding David Lama in a rare, approachable moment on horizontal ground, we took the opportunity to have the highly-accomplished climber and alpinist offer a few titbits about life as a 'rock' star. The 23-year-old tells us where he's been, where he's going next, and about his upcoming movie premiere. Find out more about David Lama on his personal website, or follow him on Facebook.

I've been climbing 18 years. When you start at a young age, you get a real feeling for climbing that you will never lose. Climbing feels as natural as walking. My level of technique lets me make good climbs even though I don't have the strongest forearms.

Red Bull Climber David Lama. © Red Bull Content Pool

I'm shooting for a television profile this week. Climbing with the cameras on you is really no different from climbing without them – except that you may have to do a route two times, and do some moves two or three times so the cameraman can shoot from different angles. It's exhausting, and you often have to deal with bad weather. Last week I was hanging out on the belay for half an hour waiting for the snow to quit, with just a light jacket on. But I always remind myself it's just as hard for the cameraman!

David Lama climbing in Chamonix
Up to the challenge © Peter Ortner

We're doing tough climbs. We've already done some filming on a route I put up with my climbing partner Peter Ortner last year called 'Safety Discussion'. It's an interesting route that's quite bold, because you really have very little protection – we put just ten bolts in for the ten pitches. Today we'll shoot in the Ötztal; tomorrow in the Lienz Dolomites.

I love to travel for climbing. That's part of the appeal for me. And I've learned that I really thrive on big projects.

David Lama on Moose's Tooth.

Masherbrum's northeast face is my next big project. It's never been done before, but I hope to try it this year. It's technical climbing, and it's very high up – the peak is 7,800m – adding further difficulty to the mixed climbing route.

It's Moose's Tooth on steroids. Moose's Tooth is 1,500m. The northeast face of Masherbrum is 3,000m of climbing, all the way up to the peak. Ice, rock, and snow – and it's more remote, higher altitude, and simply way more dangerous.

Mission accomplished © David Lama

My backyard route: Kalkkoegel is a nice, low pressure climbing spot, and it's the only dolomite rock we have in the northern part of Tirol. It's really close to my place and close to Innsbruck, but it feels quite remote. You won't see too many people there.

Alpine climbing is suffering to reach a summit. I like to climb light and fast. So we keep our weight to a minimum – we eat three bars a day, and just freeze-dried fruit in a package.

In David's steps © David Lama

Light and fast. That's the style where we're pushing new limits of alpinism. But you've got to bring enough with you to get to the summit!

I have a new mission in Patagonia. I've been there four years in a row, focusing on Cerro Torre. This year, we'd like to do the Fitz Roy traverse, which includes multiple peaks and about 7,000m of climbing over five days.

Climbing on thin ice © David Lama

A snowball's chance in hell. That's the name of my upcoming movie about free-climbing Cerro Torre. It's a feature-length film premiering at the San Sebastian International Film Festival the last week in September, along with other big, Hollywood-style productions. After three years in the making, it’s going to feel really good.

David Lama
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