It’s not every day someone comes across an athlete with as much commitment as Maria Kittl. The eighty-nine-year-old Austrian has such a passion for rock climbing, she does it every week.
“When I see a steep wall, my heart starts to sing,” says Kittl.
According to Forbes, climbing can lead to “flow state experiences.” A flow state is when you have the ability to be aware and present in the moment while performing a difficult task. Flow state experiences can “leave you feeling exhilarated.” Forbes also states that rock climbing is a sport that can leave you with knowledge on how to deal with stress in uncomfortable, dangerous situations. Not only that, but in a study from Time, climbing can improve your memory and other cognitive functions. Maria Kittl takes advantage of these mental advances.
“The first reason I climb: for my mind.”
Maria Kittl promised herself at 70 to try and climb as much as possible, for it would help her “make it to 90”. Climbing wasn’t Kittl’s only specialty, though. When Kittl was younger, she was crowned state champion for skiing. Additionally, she climbed some of the hardest slopes with her husband. Unfortunately, her husband, Robert, was killed in a mountain climbing accident on Dachstein Mountain in 2008.
Kittl also climbs to indulge herself socially. “I always have a mountain guide with me. What’s better than that?” Maria states. Kittl and her mountain guide, Christoph, have become close over the years. According to Gripped, she and Christoph have spent weeks climbing in France, Croatia, and Spain. Christoph admires Maria’s ability to push through pain that any senior (or person for that matter) would face while participating in such an intense sport.
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“In the past four years, I’ve thought to myself, ‘I want as many climbing days as possible.’ So I did 250. In one year,” claims Kittl. Kittl hopes to climb for years to come.
“There are only two options – giving up or becoming stronger,” states Kittl.