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Reinhold Scherer: Rock Star with a Lasting Legacy

06.09.2022 in Sports, Photos: Alpsolut - Johannes Mair

When it comes to rock climbing in Tirol, there is one name you will hear again and again: Reinhold Scherer. Once a world-class climber in his own right, the Tirol native is today known first and foremost as the coach to some of the most successful competitive climbers of the last 20 years and the creator of the visionary Kletterzentrum Innsbruck. We spent a day together on the rock to find out more about the man behind the myth.

What to write about a man whose reputation is already legendary? A climbing coach with 13 World Championships gold medals to his name. The creator of one of the most modern and innovative rock climbing centres in the world. When it comes to Reinhold Scherer, it is easy to get caught up in titles and records, awards and achievements. But who is the man behind the myth? I arranged to meet the 56-year-old, who lives in the small village of Obsteig half an hour west of Innsbruck, in his natural habitat, the mountains, to talk not only climbing and career but also family and freedom. 

Successful climbing coach

We meet Reinhold, or "Reini" as he is known to everyone, in the village of Silz, just a few minutes from his home in Obsteig. He is what you imagine a climber might look like: tall, thin, strong and wiry. His skin is a deep shade of brown, tanned from countless hours in the mountains of Tirol. He greets us with a warm smile and is immediately keen to show us his new "project", an impossibly steep rock face where he has spent hours drilling holes in the limestone and screwing in metal hangers to create a climbing route. "It's a bit like a drug," he admits with a wry smile. "I get restless if I don't have a project to work on. Goodness knows how many hours I put into each one – too many to count. But that's not what it's about."

We follow Reini as he picks his way along a narrow, rocky path winding its way into the mountains. In many ways this trail full of highs and lows, obstacles and pitfalls, is symbolic of his journey in life. A career that began more than 30 years ago as a sport student running climbing courses for local kids and culminated in 2021 in a bronze medal at the Olympics for Austrian climbing star Jakob Schubert, whom he has coached since he was a boy. In his role as a coach, Reini has won 13 World Championships gold medals and discovered some of the biggest rock climbing talents of the last 20 years, including Angy Eiter, Anna Stöhr and David Lama.

Rock climbing pioneer

But Reini is much more than 'just' a climbing coach. We talk about his past and he tells me that as a youngster he would follow his father, a member of the local mountain rescue team, on exercises. As a teenager he left his native East Tirol and moved to Hall in Tirol near Innsbruck to attend the local Franziskanergymnasium secondary school, where he would spend his weekends climbing the steep rockfaces of the nearby Halltal Valley. "Back then, 35 years ago, they all thought we were crazy. Lots of people said what we were doing was far too dangerous. Back then there were almost no safety ropes or official sport climbing routes," he remembers. Today, things are different. Tirol has become one of the leading destinations in the world for rock climbing with over 130 sport climbing areas, around 600 multi-pitch routes and 151 ice climbing routes. Each year a few new ones are added by people like Reini, a dedicated army of passionate climbers who head into the mountains armed with power drills and metal hangers to create sport climbing routes on some of the steepest and most inaccessible faces in the region.

We eventually reach a clearing in the forest. Reini explains that he not only drilled the holes in the rock but even created the path through the trees we have just walked along. Making a rock climbing route, it seems, is hard work. "Over the years I have bolted almost 1,500 rope lengths. I keep an exact record of all my projects," he tells me. We reach the top and sit down to enjoy the view of the Inn Valley below. "This place has a real charm in winter. When the sun is low in the sky and the rocks are bathed in orange light. When the village in the valley is gently warmed by the winter sun. For me, that is Tirol."

From action and adventure to peace and quiet

Our photographer decides this is a good spot for a few portraits. "Give us a mischievous smile," he calls out. Reini is used to having cameras pointing at him. But who is Reinhold Scherer? What motivates him? "Climbing is a huge part of my life. When I was younger I wanted to do the hardest routes I could possibly find. Now, I don't need such extremes. My goal is to find cool places and enjoy spending time on my own. I love coming here and letting my thoughts wander. It's a great contrast to my day job, where I am often surrounded by thousands of people."


That brings us to yet another part of his profile: the businessman. Reini is the founder and general manager of the Kletterzentrum Innsbruck, one of the most innovative indoor climbing centres in the world with more than 500 climbing routes and 200 boulder problems. The "KI", as it is known, is a place where amateurs train alongside some of the world's top climbers. "Climbing has gone from being a real niche sport to a mainstream activity which is a nowadays a huge part of the outdoor scene in Tirol." So what is the secret to his success. "I'm not really a multitasker. I like putting my mind to one project and focussing all my energy on that. Once it is done, it's time to move on to the next one."

So who is the real Reini Scherer? The climber? The coach? The businessman? The visionary? Or maybe the family father in search of peace and quiet? I guess it's the wrong question to ask. Reini, like all of us, has many facets. As we sit together and gaze across the valley below, a smile creeps across his lips. What could he be thinking? Maybe he has spotted a new project. Or maybe it is the simple pleasure of a man truly in his element.


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An outdoorswoman with a passion for sports, Mathea is always looking for authentic stories about Tirol. You can usually find her in the backcountry, surrounded by good people.

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