Melanie Gruenwald

Team Role: EOCA Board Member. Head of Sustainability at Yonderland

How did you become involved with EOCA: Conservation of outdoor spaces is a key pillar in our sustainability strategy at Yonderland, so when Julian asked if I was interested to join the board, I was immediately keen to support the great efforts of EOCA in protecting the wild spaces we all love. No outdoors, no outdoor industry.

Moreover, ensuring the preservation and protection of natural spaces and biodiversity is something that is also close to my heart personally, having been lucky to grow up in, and experience, the beauty of the Austrian mountains all my life, but also having experienced first-hand the loss of or irreversible change to our beloved outdoor spaces within my lifetime. I strongly feel we have no time to waste to step up our collective efforts to protect the outdoors.

Number of years in the outdoor industry: Professionally I have worked in the outdoor industry for the past five years in the capacities of strategy manager and as head of sustainability more recently for the largest European outdoor retailer.

However, I have spent my entire life in the outdoor space, usually somewhere between rocks, peaks and the skies, being an avid skier, climber and mountaineer since childhood, and recently adding paragliding to the mix as well.

What else do you promote to support conservation: I hope to set an example of traveling and enjoying the outdoors with as little footprint as possible and promoting the beauty of local or regional adventure spots instead of exotic far-away locations. I am also an enthusiast for clean-up events in whatever form, as they usually are win-wins for nature and community. In addition, I provide input and advice on sustainability strategy to the Austrian Alpine Club.

Favourite wild place: Currently, the wild but superb Granit routes in the Envers des Aiguilles in Chamonix. Surrounded by the almost mythical peaks and faces of the Dru, Grandes and Petites Jorasses, Dent du Géant… this place holds some of the best climbing I have had the pleasure of experiencing and I cannot wait to return to these iconic peaks. Grepon and Republique are still high on my tick list.

Favourite outdoor activity: Don’t make me choose! I love to climb both alpine and sport routes. I love to change it up for some big mountain days whether that is mountaineering or trail running. In winter you will hardly ever find me without, at least, one pair of skis searching for some powder runs. And ideally, I have my paragliding kit with me as well, summer or winter.

Perfect day: Spend the night in a remote bivy spot with good friends, wake up early to climb/hike/run and ideally fly down to save us the hike back (because who enjoys walking down, really?)