Professional alpinist Dani Arnold: The mental is the most important thing

03. July 2022 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Two years ago, Swiss professional alpinist, mountaineer, mountain guide, speed and solo climber Dani Arnold became a father. He was asked in an interview whether this had changed his willingness to take risks. His answer describes the attitude of the man who gained notoriety with his numerous records as a speed climber: ” Some things I wouldn’t do anymore, but I think if you’re careful, don’t let yourself be driven by anything, that you can still do cool, responsibility-acceptable projects.”

Responsibility and few superlatives

Responsible, prudent, few superlatives – the language of the full-blooded alpinist also reflects his attitude to life and his vocation. He is modest and what is called humble. Of course he enjoys borderline experiences, otherwise he would not do what he does with passion, but he does not see himself as someone who lives “constantly at the limit”.

Arnold, who is now 38 years old, has been drawn to the mountains since he was a child; after all, he grew up in the middle of the mountain world. He knows the challenges out there, alone on a wall, just him and the mountain.

The professional alpinist Dani Arnold became known in particular for his solo speed records as a speed climber. On August 15, 2021, he climbed the north face of France’s 3,733-meter Petit Dru in the Mont Blanc massif in a record time of 1:43 minutes, setting a new solo best time. On Petit Dru, speed records are a rarity because the window of opportunity to make a timed ascent at all is extremely short.

“If there’s a chance that everything fits, then I have to take that chance,” says Dani Arnold, who describes the fascination of climbing for speed like this: “When there’s no rope, I’m not hanging on any harness, (…) then I feel free. And that is already an extremely intense, beautiful feeling.”

Reducing to the essentials

For Dani Arnold, it’s also about the feeling of reduction: “Our society is used to building safety in all areas. You take different things here and secure yourself for any situations. To actively say I’m not taking this and that, not even a rope, that’s a return to the essentials.”

While the physical training for a tour takes him about a month, the entire planning and especially the mental preparation extends over a period of a good year.

In his lectures, Dani Arnold takes his audience to places in the mountain world that are inaccessible to the majority of humanity and draws parallels to the corporate world, because no matter what industry, it is always about leadership, others and oneself, as well as dealing with change and risk.

Dani Arnold – Dealing with risk and fear

Dealing with risk and fear is part of his vocation. He relates, “During preparation, fear is a big issue. I then build up a lot of confidence so that I know everything is still right. I have to deal with the situation in a concrete way.” Whether he has a mental coach, he was asked in an interview. “No, I probably wouldn’t trust a mental coach.” Dani Arnold is his own mental coach and a good teacher for anyone who wants to learn from an extreme athlete how dealing with risk and change processes can succeed through good planning and preparation.

Dani Arnold

Extreme Mountaineer, Adventurer & Speed climber