The Mountains his Companion – Heinz Zak
Heinz Zak is one of the best-known extreme climbers in Austria. Alongside his fascination with climbing, he is also passionate about photography and is a slacklining pioneer. Despite his countless mountain adventures in all parts of the globe, Heinz Zak always treasures the return to his home in Scharnitz and his ‘living room’, the mountain ranges of the Karwendel.
Heinz Zak discovered his enthusiasm for the sport of climbing at an early age. His father was an enthusiastic mountain climber and his mother a gifted gymnast. He spent much time in the alpine pastures with his grandparents, where the mountains became his companion. He developed his deep passion for the sport on the vertical rock walls along with someone who remains to this day his best and most loyal friend.
In the Seventies Heinz Zak mastered free climbing in the Yosemite Valley in California, one of the first Austrians to do so. At the start of the Eighties, he introduced an alpine first ascent in free climbing style on the Schüsselkar (Hexentanz der Nerven, 7th grade). Zak explored the most important climbing areas around the world, but always returned happily to his homeland. It was there in the Nineties that he put up many of the first ascents in the Wetterstein and Karwendel ranges.
Heinz Zak and the most famous Highline in the World
By the end of the Seventies Zak was also spending his time balancing on ropes in Yosemite and since then has been an active slackliner. As one of the sport’s pioneers he was in 2003 the first European to make his way across the most famous highline in the world at Lost Arrow Spire. Afterwards, Zak brought the sport back to the Tyrol and to his home in Scharnitz. There 250 slackliners from around Europe gathered in 2006 for the International Slackline Meeting.
His camera is always with him on his tours. With an eye for natural beauty, he manages to fascinate with his breathtaking pictures from the mountains. In 2005, he accompanied Wolfgang Gullich on one of his free solo climbs. His images were seen the world over and Heinz Zak became one of the best-known climbing photographers. In 2002, 2011, 2014 and 2016 he published books with impressive images from his tours.
Just last year (2016) he accompanied Adam Ondra, currently one of the best climbers in the world, to Norway for a photo report. At the moment, his project is the book “Berge Tirol” (“Tyrolean Mountains”) in partnership with Tirol Werbung and the National Geographic – we look forward to beautiful images from the Tyrolean Alps with great anticipation.
Interview Recording: Mathias Obmascher
Photos and Outdoor Recording: Heinz Zak
Editing: Martin Zak