Barbara Zangerl: the Austrian climber exploring the world

WE TALK to Barbara Zangerl about how she combines her passion for climbing with her love of travel.

Barbara Zangerl

Barbara Zangerl is a professional climber from Austria.

BARBARA ZANGERL was introduced to climbing by her siblings. Living in Austria meant there was always a new climb to discover and it wasn’t long before she found herself climbing at every and any chance she got.


Barbara has always see the sport as hobby and is therefore overwhelmed that she’s been able to make a career out of this great passion of hers. Her first real success in the sport came in her climb of Pura Vida, an 8b boulder in Magic Wood, Switzerland, and she has since gone on to impress with her climbs in countries all around the world.. 


Here she talks to us about what it is about climbing that makes her tick as well as outlining some of her biggest climbing goals for the months and years ahead.


When did you start climbing and who introduced to the sport? Where did you grow up and what opportunities did it give you to climb?


I got into climbing when my brother took my sister and me to a cliff near our home. (I grew up in a small village called Strengen in the region of Arlberg, Tirol (western part of Austria). The western part of Austria offers a lot of climbing possibilities. So the Alps are known for their great alpine routes…but you can do all disciplines of climbing around home. We don’t have to drive a long way to find great sport climbing, bouldering or alpine adventures.


For the first climbing experience we just abseiled down a 50m rock…. that was all for the first day. We got scared and impressed at the same time. Right after we joined a bouldering club in our valley. So we got into climbing in a really playful way…we just climbed together—mostly bouldering…started in the gym and soon we got the first time outdoors. Our first bouldering trip was to Ticino (CH), when Bernd Zangerl (no relation) and Dietmar Siegl showed us all those outdoor bouldering areas. This was much more fun we ever could imagined. We didn’t train for climbing at this time it was everything related to just go and try different boulders….and most of the time when the weather allowed us to go outdoors we went to different small bouldering areas…. 


Barbara Zangerl

Barbara Zangerl was introduced to climbing by her siblings and has gone on to make a career for herself in the sport.

When did you first realise you had a real talent for the sport?


I loved the first steps of learning something new! (The beginning when you just suck at everything you try to do). Trying out all the adventurous new climbing.


Since that I always get motivated by doing different styles of climbing, and I got totally stoked about bigger adventures in climbing. Where you also have to deal with different things like approaches, long days out on a wall, weather, fear, gear, hauling on big walls, or playing around with mobile gear…. I never get bored doing that and combine all those different styles of doing the same. I’ve never really thought about having a talent in the sport. It’s much more about a passion that I want to invest all my free time and energy in.


The result of the motivation and the passion is that you climb hard… but I don’t think that I have a special talent.  My passion for climbing was always connected with travelling, seeing new places and playing that game together with good people… so maybe some success happened because of all these aspects.


Barbara Zangerl

Barbara combines her passion for climbing with her love of travel and seeing new places.

When did you get your first real climbing success and important was this in motivating you to form a career in the sport?


The first real climbing success was when I climbed Pura Vida, an 8b boulder in Magic Wood (Switzerland) at the time when I only did bouldering, this was ten years. I invested a lot of energy in this piece of rock and it took me some time to resolve that boulder problem. (At this time it was the hardest boulder climbed by a woman.) But I never thought about becoming professional climber or making a career out of climbing. But at the moment I am happy and thankful that I can live as a pro climber. It could’t be better.


Barbara Zangerl

Barbara likes to take on climbs that will really put her to the test and make her work hard.

What have been your biggest climbing successes to date and where in the world has the sport taken you?


Zodiac (on El Capitan) for the toughest big wall climbing I have experienced the last two years. ‘Chikane’ was this line in Siuarna (Spain) I had always wanted to climb since i tried it the first time. Chikane is probably my hardest sprotclimbing route so far.


Gondo crack 8C/R for being that route I had the most motivation for (driving five hours for one day climbing which is kind of stupid) and our Pembroke (Wales) trip for the best mental challenges I ever had and for adding some of the best trad climbing lines I have ever tried.


Bellavista an alpine route in the Dolomites for the wildest adventure and climbing the Alpine trilogy which was unforgettable for me.


There are so many great experiences I had on different routes. It is hard for me to choose the best ones. I love climbing so much because travelling and visiting other countries is a big part of it. Climbing took me already almost all over the world. I love to see different places, cultures and meet different people. That keeps my motivation high all over the year. 


Barbara Zangerl

When she got a serious back injury it motivated Barbara to adapt her style of climbing and to learn new ways to climb.


Tell us how your back injury changed your attitude to climbing?


Of course because of my back injury I got in 2008, I had to change a lot and stop bouldering for a long time and this really opened for me a bigger perspective in climbing. First of all it was a really tough experience and I did rope climbing just for therapy. But during this injury journey I got more and more into all the other styles of climbing and I got a lot more motivation I have ever had before in my life. 


How much are you currently climbing and do you have any exciting climbs and climbing projects coming up in the near future?


I climb about five days a week… I also have a regular job as a radiographer (but I only work four to six days a month).


My next trip will be Yosemite this fall to climb on El Cap again!


Future goal: one time i want to go on a real rock climbing expedition and put up a new multi-pitch route in a good style.

Reader Comments

Share This Article