In early March, Wolfgang “Schnitzel” Schüssler was stopped at the Croatian border and given an ultimatum: He could quarantine at a government approved hospital for the next 14 days, or get the hell out of there.
He had arrived with plans to bolt his way from Croatia to Albania through the spring. But things went quickly askant. Just that morning, Croatia initiated some of the strictest restriction measures on the continent, and Schüssler found out the hard way.
Staring into the faces of armed guards, tired and strung out, Schüssler turned around and drove the 11 hours home. The same roads he had just arrived on.
Countdown to Showtime
Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Boredom plays its part, too.
Back in Bayreuth near Frankenjura, Schüssler, a German climber, found himself in the same situation as everyone else: Pent up and on lock down. After building a home wall (and a few beers), he needed a new challenge to occupy his time.
Schüssler chose to start “Schnitzel Show,” a YouTube Live interview series to talk with pro climbers about more than just climbing.
“Mostly I was getting tired of people posting [all these] fucking fingerboard exercises,” deadpans Schüssler. “I see climbing as a sport that’s more versatile, but a lot of aspects don’t get looked into [in other interviews].”
Topics range from the mental to the mad: Motivations and defeats, untold stories, armchair philosophy and a whole lot more.
Schnitzel Show Live
Strictly speaking, Schüssler didn’t know what the project would be about, but like a lot of things in his life, he simply started. The first episode featured pal, Pete Whittaker, and included a chat about new projects and funny hats. Episode two was an interview with Kyra Condie, a pro he didn’t know.
“All of a sudden I’m on instagram,” he says, his friend, Simon Charriere, having started the account. “I saw some footage of Kyra on a campus board and she’s moving like Johnny Dawes when he was 20, incredibly talented. I didn’t know her, but I thought, ‘I’ll just ask her.’”
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Each show is live which adds intrigue to the viewing experience. Through the crinkling of rolling papers and the occasional video lag—mishaps that would normally be edited in final production—episodes offer up banter and the unexpected in a one-and-done cut.
“The reason why I wanted to make this live is I didn’t want to be a cheater. You’re going to be put on the spot. You can’t take your time, ask a friend for advice, call your lawyer. You have to react,” he explains, chuckling.
The host himself is like your provocateur uncle who needles your more straight-laced father. He has a Eugene Levy delivery, a Cheshire Cat grin, and good humor that puts the guests at ease. As a social worker by trade who’s worked with refugees the past few years, Schüssler has found that honesty, trust and a little playfulness can provide conditions for deeper conversations.
The end result is a highly entertaining exchange with the climbers you know from more formal settings in an amusing and down to earth light.
You can catch new episodes each Wednesday and Saturday at 9pm Berlin time (12pm PST/3pm EST).
Aaron Gerry is a freelance writer who spent the last year traveling and climbing (mostly in Eastern Europe). He’s keen on getting into long, multi-pitch alpine climbs. Want to partner up? You can follow his travels at aarongerry.com.