Benedikt Böhm. Extreme ski mountaineer and Dynafit CEO

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Benedikt „Bene“ Böhm (born 15 August 1977 in Munich) is a German extreme ski mountaineer and extreme skier. Together with Sebastian Haag he keeps the records in speed ski mountaineering at the Muztagata (7.546m) and Gasherbrum II (8.035m) and solo at Manaslu (8.163m). Böhm has grown up with five siblings in Munich. Böhm was a member of the national German Ski mountaineering Team (2003-2006). Böhm works as CEO for the Ski Touring brand Dynafit.

How can one person manage to do all the things like you do? We thought the day is for everybody just 24 hrs (smile)

Unfortunately I am not always successful to manage all things… but I developed a couple of strategies in combination with great discipline to actually manage to do all these things most of the time. Some of this rules are:

    • I don’t even try to manage everything myself. I have a super wife who manages the family and majority of the household. And I have very reliable colleagues and an excellent management team around me at Dynafit who keep away most operational things from me.
    • I learned to drastically reduce what I call non-core activities and I remain very efficient. I am not attending every birthday party, meeting and I hardly watch TV or waste time or have time gaps. I plan and organise my day what allows me to decide and act fast. Just that saves me a lot of time.
    • Last but not least, you are right – we all only have 24 hours. We don’t know how many days we have here, but we have 24 hours. And life is a pure and constant decision. Do I work towards my targets or hang out? Do I get up early and use the day or rather sleep? I sleep 5-6 hours a day and the golden time are the hours before 8:30 am. This is when I train and when work and family sleeps. Nobody misses me.
    • Often I even get up at 3:00 o’clock in the morning and go training. I leave the house within 15 minutes from the moment I woke up. I try to remain in a constant efficient state of flow. That’s a great feeling as you get many things done.

Was everybody from your family doing that much sport as you do? Or is it “common” for all people who live in the mountains?

No my parents were no skiers or mountaineers, but they were sportive and have a good understanding of their body. As kid I had over spilling energy which I even valued as a bad thing as I couldn’t sit still and always had to move. When I was 10 years old it was actually my brother who said ‘you have to get into serious sports to come down’ and he recommended a competitive cross country skiing club to me. This club was an elite athlete cross country club and the training was super hard, but I loved it. For the first time I felt I could use my energy for something useful. From cross country skiing I evolved more and more into ski touring as found this sport offered much more action and adventure.

How would you define mountains? What does it give it to you?

I love deeply love them and they give me freedom.

What would you consider as the most memorious experience from your sports life?

In a good way there are so so many that it is hard to pick one. I shared so many great moments in the mountains over the years and I still collect these moments all the time. The deepest low was when I lost my long-term partner and friend Basti as well as Andrea in an avalanche.

Have you ever been afraid? Or do you feel you have to put these thoughts to the very back of your brain in order to do, what you do?

Of course I have been afraid especially before great expeditions to 8.000m peaks. The is no courage without fear. I try to balance courage and fear. If we want to achieve exceptional we will have to be courageous and overcome our fears. It is interesting that we are mainly afraid of and scared of, but we hardly to talk about being scared in.

I have been in very scary situations but there was no space to be scared. I had to survive and to act.My strategy has been to approach what I am scared of step by step, little by little. And thus I always tried to replace fear by awareness and mindfulness. We are not scared in the traffic. We are aware. I also try to perfect my mind and awareness.

Last but not least I made the beautiful experience that you can share fear. Basti and I shared our fears. He was the strongest steep skier I have ever seen and I could move fast in the death zone. Thus we shared the lead according to the situation – situational leadership. It was him leading when skiing down and me when climbing up. This way we took each others fear as it is much easier to follow than to lead in these situations. Suddenly things which were impossible for each of us as an individual, suddenly became possible.

We can´t imagine to witness something like this… it doesn´t stop you from continuing doing this? The work, three (sorry four children). Is this feeling in your guts even stronger?

I think that mountains are just such a lake and such a source of power and freedom for me that it was never more for me and not for my friends… Never. I think a discussion would have been a discussion because we understand each other that even if something happens this doesn’t destroy all after the mountains… because it’s not the mountain is who is killing us, it’s probably ourselves.

And so, the moment is there I mean and the love is there and therefore it has been never a question that we would not continue our sport. We didn’t even talk about it but it was always out of a question that you would continue your sport whatever happens.

 And this is what we do as mountaineers and this is what this was what drives us and this is where we get our power from. Of course. What changes is the risk taking.

 I mean my risk taking got much lower over the years because my motivation was never of today and therefore you experience much more and therefore your risk or my risk taking it was actually really decreasing over the years.

That’s another part because I saw so many things and I just realized it’s not worth to today because you go to power and you can have many weight pretty soon so… I don’t want to take this extra risk and not sort this winning assembly. Since I’ve got a family… It was gone. It’s finished. Now I have a certain responsibility I’m not going to do that.

I see many similarities between you and your favourite athlete (Killian Jornet) who also lost his partner couple years ago during his project…

Maybe but, I think there was probably something stronger than my opinion. We were real friends from the childhood. Lot of talking, lot of teaching each other, we were pushing each other hard. And that was a very deep friendship. I was with him in extreme highs but also lows and almost everything. And I can be just very very thankful for everything.
We were training really hard back. We were bleeding and fighting and we were always going to the very limits and also now and then we were partying like crazy. And we were certainly not, let’s say not typical super sportsmen who were only eating and drinking water you know this was not our style.
I would say probably more like a real rock stars or something like that. We really liked going out and we were with the women. We loved being out there. I mean it were extremely intense times and also extremely tense friendship to mention and also sharing this incredible passion for sport and being in the nature.

This is your quote from one interview with you: “Not even one third of all children in Germany are active for an hour or more. That really scares me.” Does it apply to the rest of the Europe as well? It does sound crazy. Are “we” really that much lazy?

It applies to the entire world. And yes we are that lazy. In spite of the general awareness it is getting dramatically worse. By 2030 it is predicted that 50% of the worldwide population are overweight. Today it is a matter of fact that much more people die as a result of overweight than of hunger. It must be a common effort of all to reduce fat driver and increase sports awareness from a young age onwards.

Norway is a great example how sports is part of almost every kid from a young age onwards. They invest over proportionally to keep their population fit and it pays back with less health problems later and Norway was the top ranked medal nation during the last winter olympics. Great Britain just introduced a sugar tax to fight obeseness of kids. The World Health Organisation recommends to introduce such a sugar tax everywhere to reduce the consumption of soft drinks and Junk-Food.

How was the path from extreme sportsman to the CEO of well known sport brand?

Both happened in parallel. I had studied in England and USA and my ambition was always to run a business. I was (am…) deeply with the ski touring sport and the mountains and I wanted to make this my living. After my studies in 2003 I saw the perfect chance to start working for Dynafit. Most friends thought that I am crazy as they worked for famous brands what Dynafit certainly wasn’t. But I saw the potential not only to build the brand but the entire sport.

The brand was more or less bankrupt at the time and ski touring was extremely unsexy. I was one of the first employees and the vision was to not only renew and rebuild Dynafit, but to reinvent the entire sport. Make lighter products, more intuitive, more accessible, easier, better, faster, young and super sexy. And this is what we did everyday with great passion and I think the sport has become like we envisioned it in 2003. And Dynafit played a major role that ski touring became a sexy and popular sport today. And I just did what I loved with great ambition and became CEO.

But Dynafit is in a group of more brands. Tell us please more about it…

Yes , it is the Oberalp Group which is owned by the South Tyrolean Oberrauch family based in Bolzano. The Oberalp Group is a house of mountain brands and owns the 5 brands Salewa, Dynafit, Pomoca, Wild Country and Evolv. I am also member of the Board of the Oberalp Group were many Group decisions are taken.

What does Dynafit mean to you? How would you describe it?

I have three kids. It’s like my fourth kid. I raised it for 16 years now and it has become a teenager today who has still a long way to go…

Can you see in the past years that going/racing/running to the mountains is the “new black”?

I would say yes as I wanted to share the great feelings my friends and I had in the mountains and during mountain competitions. And if we could develop these feelings many other people can do. It is the best contrast we can have in our modern and permanently connected world.

Why to choose Dynafit among hundreds of other sports different brands? How does it differentiate?

Because Dynafit develops the most efficient systems for mountain athletes. A brand made by athletes for athletes. Dynafit is absolute core with a great sensitivity for design, speed and lightness.

Dynafit is not just about the sport clothes but you also help to protect the wildlife with the initiative of supporting the endangered snow leopard which is also in your logotype…

Yes, the snow leopard perfectly symbolizes our Brand and we fight to keep this beautiful animal.

This year you also stepped into the new segments which is mountain biking. Why is that so?

Because our target group – the mountain endurance athlete – is mountain biking. We always knew that and it was always highly requested that we engage ourselves in mountain biking. It was more a question of when is the right moment. The moment has come now. We have developed greatly in Trail Running and now there is space to add mountain biking. If we do something we do it properly.

Do we got it right, that all of your products are made in Europe?

No, not all but the majority of our products (80%) are made in Europe. And the other 20% are made with long-term suppliers where we know what’s going on. This is also why we are Bluesign certified and have been granted the Fair Wear Foundation leader status.

Where do you see the possible future of the Dynafit?

Our future and presence is what we call Dynafit 365. Our ambition is not only to be and remain the leader in ski touring, but also to become a leader in trail running and mountain biking where there is still a lot, lot ground to cover for us. A brand which is there for our ‘athletes’ (consumers) 365 days a year.

You spend a lot of time in the mountains. In the past weeks we so really shocking images of hundreds of people queuing at the rooftop of the world. What do you think about that?

If you look at Matterhorn and Mont Blanc you see similar pictures. In the end it is a business and artificial oxygen and sherpa make it possible that many people can register to climb Everest. As long as many people earn good money with that we will hardly see a change. The good thing is that there are many other unclimbed or less climbed great mountains which are maybe not the highest or as known. So maybe it’s good that we have a couple of popular attractions but a lot of space left around. That’s also why I chose to ski to a relatively unknown 7.000m peak in Nepal this fall 2019.

Should we be more humble with the mountains and the world around us?

Only a short answer, yes, absolutely.

Where would you recommend us to go anywhere in the world?

I think often the beauty lies right outside the door no matter we go. As said I am very much looking forward to go to Nepal this fall to discover a remote 7.000m peak.

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