"This is my office"
With these words, ski guide Markus Dagn introduces his guests to the summit of a snow-covered mountain.
Of freedom, addiction and being a child
"Let me introduce you, this is my office," Markus "Mäx" Dagn says to his guests when they are standing at the top of a snow-covered mountain about to ski down the pristine slope in powder snow. Mäx, is a ski guide and lives the mountains with every breath. Especially in his home, Kitzbühel, but also in Turkey, Chile or California and wherever else it takes him and his customers. In the process, he leaves his mark not only in the snow.
Ski guide Markus Dagn loves what he does. He also passes this on to his guests. For them, it's less about adrenaline and thrills and more about having a good time in nature. To feel the freedom that is so present when you ski down pristine slopes in the backcountry. "In powder you have this feeling of flying, you're floating along like that, finding the rhythm. It can be addictive - my guests feel that way too, otherwise they wouldn't book me so often," says Markus Dagn, who uses Anglicisms naturally in his everyday language, a reference to the international audience that so loves to freeride with him and a relic from his time in Australia and Sun Valley, Idaho.
80% of his customers are regulars. He is concerned with giving them a great day, whatever they may be looking for. Action, nature experiences, the perfect swing, cozy breaks at the hut, relaxation and tranquility, or all of the above. What he himself appreciates so much about his job, he says, is the opportunity to be a kid again, "goofing around," as he puts it, like just recently when he climbed Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest mountain at 5137 meters, with a client: "It was freezing cold, the wind was blowing like mad. We spent the night together in a tent. I had two movies on my cell phone: Mission Impossible and Catwoman. After dinner we said, "Well, we're going to watch TV now. The others laughed at us, but then we went into the tent, lay down like two little boys - we also had the same sleeping bags - and watched the movies." Being able to be a child together is what connects people.
But there are also quite different situations in which adrenaline is very much involved, such as on the expedition to the Ojos del Salado in the deepest Andes of Chile, at 6893 meters the highest volcano in the world: "The first night over 4000 meters altitude I didn't sleep a minute because of the altitude sickness. I just felt bad, I had a resting pulse of 140 and when it went down again I felt like I was about to die, it was something like depression - a typical sign of the disease. The others went up the mountain, but I didn't go with them." Markus' client got a little further, but he too had to forgo the summit moment. Sometimes nature cannot be conquered - such experiences are also part of it.
Dahoam is Dahoam
On the road, that was Markus Dagn a lot. Maybe that's why he returned to Kitzbühel instead of accepting the latest job offer in the USA: "Home is home. I have everything there, why should I leave? I can do what I enjoy, I have my family and my friends here." With his colleague and friend Joe Astner, he said, he has competed several times in the Powder European Cup and Synchroski World Cup, and in 2009 they took the World Cup win.
There's plenty to do in summer, too, "I'm in the water a lot, doing canyoning and rafting, but also mountain bike tours and mountain hikes." That someone who has experienced so many heights needs a little consistency is not surprising. That one who has experienced so many highs needs to be aware of the lows - that also makes sense: "Everyone has their lows, everyone has been through something, and if you don't get up and say, 'It goes on,' what then? You have to look forward, because I can't change what's been. Life can be over so quickly. You have to live your life, see that you are satisfied, that you use the time you have," Markus Dagn sums up his philosophy of life. He is a doer, someone who always wants to go further, but who also knows where his limits lie.
The encounters on the mountain, in nature, are almost even better than falling in love: The relationships that develop often last a lifetime.
We would like to thank BEST OF THE ALPS for the lines and pictures.
This article was originally published in a longer version at Best of the Alps.