Meet Freeskier and Cat® Phones Ambassador Mario Gattinger – #RUGGEDSTORIES


Continuing our new series, we meet the people whose lives are seriously rugged. This week, Mario Gattinger, professional freeskier, tells us why dropping your phone in the mountains can have serious consequences – but not if it’s a Cat® Phone!

Job title: Pro freeskier

Age: 27

Working Locations: Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India

Hazards of the job: Avalanches, cold, falling

Favourite app: GoPro

Phone for the job: S60

What’s the best thing about freeskiing?

When you do this sport you don’t think about the future or the past, just about what you’re doing at that moment – and that’s a spectacular thing.

How do you use the phone?

I use the phone for everything to plan my tours with Google maps to taking pictures of mountain faces so I can check my [descent] line. Some lines are difficult to come down, usually when I drop in the face it is very steep and it can be difficult to see. So I look at the picture on my phone I’ve just taken to see where I have to go. The phone is really good because the battery lasts in cold temperatures. With other phones you don’t get the battery for the whole day in the backcountry when it’s -10º to -15º C.


What else?

I also use it as a remote for my GoPro. It’s really useful for when you want to post some POV [point of view] lines on Facebook, you can download the footage to the Cat phone and with the app you can cut some small videos. Last year in Switzerland I stayed in a mountain hut and was able to cut some small GoPro videos for social media without needing my laptop.

Any other apps?

I use the compass a lot for navigation but also to check the aspect of mountain faces to avoid the avalanche danger. For example, the weather may say the wind is from the north west and I can use the compass to look at the ridges, cornices and check what the wind is doing. I also use an app from Mammut to measure the angle of the mountain face.


Go on, what’s the steepest you’ve ridden?

It’s difficult to say. The north face of the Wildspitze [Austria’s second highest mountain] is nearly 60º and I skied that last November.

Have you ever dropped your phone?

Yes, I dropped it down a face! It must have fallen 150-200m over snow and rocks. Amazingly I found it and it was fine, nothing had happened. It was lucky I found it!

The weather must be pretty important for you?

The weather page is one of my most used on the internet after Facebook! The biggest issue is avalanche danger. You have to think about the wind, how strong it is, which direction is it coming from, how much snow is falling, how warm is the temperature, how is the old snow from the last few weeks…


What vital equipment do you always take with you?

I use a Mammut avalanche airbag. [This inflates when you pull a toggle and is designed to keep the victim on the surface of an avalanche.] Also my probe, my shovel my beacon and first aid kit.

Do you see a use for thermal imagery of the S60 in the mountains?

It would be interesting to see if it will detect warmth in the event of an avalanche burial but most of the time victims are buried 50cm under the snow. It could also be interesting to look at the different snow layers; if you can see the temperature difference it indicates snowpack stability. Maybe also it would be good for waxing your skis so you get the right temperature of wax!

Best part of the job?

You can realise your own ideas. It’s hard work, but it’s so much fun.

Phone for the job

Mario has been using the S40 until now but we think he could benefit from trying out the thermal imaging capacities of the S60.

Join in the conversation online with your own #RuggedStories at @Catruggedphones

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