My STAY with BENNO – 2200m high – Take off point – Rietz
Griesskogel Peak (just above Rietz) lies at 2884m high and is probably my most favourite climb to do. It is right from Rietz, it is challenging, it is long, it is fun, I get to run the first hour on mountain road, then climb, great crazy run down, but the very best part of this is the visit with BENNO on the way down. It was always great conversation, a few boisterous laughs, a couple shots of ZIRBE schnapps…and then I would be on my way…with a new found energy or lack of from the schnapps and the sitting in a warm hut. I loved it and would not miss it. Benno tended the sheep’s Hut for the summer, herding the sheep that are owned by farmers in the village. Benno has been down this every summer for around 25years. He knows the mountains, the trails the rocks , the sheep inside out and could probably climb blindfolded and know his way. I remember getting caught in the hail running down the mountain and I ran straight in the Benno’s Hut and hung out for a good couple hours before I could continue on. There was definitely something special there. I
told him I must stay here for a night …I would love it! And of course I was always invited. It’s his simpleness and love of the mountains I love…his great laugh and his warm hospitality to bring anybody in. But there was something else there too… I never wanted to miss a visit.
On Aug 27
at 5:30pm I started up the mountain towards the hut, super jacked and so excited to go. It was warm out ,SKY was absolute clear. I was still a little wired from my Segafredo Espresso stop but I think my energy was high because I knew where I was going. After 21/2 hours…I made it to the hut…with other visitors there and Sammy (his best friend dog) sniffing through my bag of goodies. I had stuffed my pack full of goodies from the bakery for them to indulge in. Gabi, his daughter, arrived a bit later…we sat up until at least 11:30, laughing, listening to oldie tunes on the old time radio, learning Rietzer Dialect (love that) sentences and just simply enjoying the moment. It’s so comfortable there even to sit around the table…not saying anything…
Klaus, Kimmsch miar brauchn Zirbeln – Klaus come on up, we need another bottle of Zirbe Schnapps!
Yes I finished it off!
At 6am, Benno was up and ready to go to do his 3 hr Sheep round up…Gabi and I sat and had breakfast and relaxed for a good while. I was ready to fly up to Griesskogel..since now it was only a bit over an hour away. Once I arrived…I stayed at the peak for over an hour just lying…then came down halfway and lay for another hour..then came back down to Benno and decided to do another peak. I did not want to go down…..after the second peak, which had a ton of full body climbing…and I had to make my own way down..I was exhausted, hungry and ready to go back down. That one chocolate Balisto just didn’t cut it, all the way up and down.
Aug 29th was a very sad day indeed, as I received a phone call from Klaus, as I
was sitting at Segafredo in Innsbruck. He was the bearer of bad news….Benno
fell 90m from the mountain and had died instantly. This was the big day of
herding all the sheep and bringing them back down the mountain. I was shocked
and very sad…as I was just with him..this man knew the mountains inside out, was
super fit and strong. A sheep had gotten away of the trail in a steep section… so Benno climbed up to get him…the section of grass he had slipped on and fell …many others were there including his wonderful daughter Gabi…all witnessing. As the helicopter flew over Rietz into the mountain right above, Klaus instantly grabbed his cell phone and made a call to Benno….he had this feeling. 30min later the helicopter landed on the soccer field in Rietz with Benno and Gabi inside. Klaus, my good friend and a dear long time friend of Benno was there to witness.
‘Another one of our ORIGINALs gone’ Klaus says…He was such a unique, wonderful man and even having lived a good life…it is very sad to lose him. His energy and spirit will live on in the mountains above Rietz. Even though I only knew him for a year…I felt like I knew him for a long time… My Griesskogel Climbs will never be the same anymore without Benno’s visit. To me his is a Rietzer ICON.
Your message shall be emphasized to live SIMPLY doing what you love to do and do it everyday…so each day carries riches in the simplest of things…open your heart and your home to everyone and you will live a rich life….Benno died tragically yet he was doing what he loved to do. I feel him smiling up above having left so contented and at peace.