The man for mountain tours by train – Munich

When Michael Vitzthum comes through the door, the ski tourer is immediately taken from him. He doesn’t carry a lot of weight around with him. Above all, the 51-year-old wears a leftover Friedrich Merz hairstyle, but where the CDU man’s face tends to be icy cold, Vitzthum’s looks warmer. There’s such a mischievous smile around the eyes that seems to say, ‘Hey, he could be a sly old man!’ Well, after hand-timed 60 minutes you know: there’s a lot between the ears.

In real life, the man is a graphic designer, but has recently had a decent media presence. The book “Of course with public transport! The best ski tours, friction & ski safaris from Munich”, which he wrote with three mountain friends, is a welcome topic on radio and television, hits the spirit of the times, as does his Facebook story, hashtag bergsportisnomotorsport.

Vitzthum on the way to the mountains.

(Photo: private)

When he started planning ski tours without a car 15 years ago, he was exotic and looked at askance when he was standing on the platform in full gear and skis in hand. That has changed, more on that later. Because quite a few Munich residents know another facet of Vitzthum: the party organizer.

It all started at the Taufkirchen high school, where art teacher Schilling used a bunch of creative people for project days, school parties and graduation balls. Posters for theater performances were painted, halls were decorated, bars were set up, music was played – that’s what Vitzthum and his comrades-in-arms do to this day. “There are still guests at our parties that I know from my school days,” he says. “I’ve known my oldest co-organizer since fifth grade.” Round birthdays were celebrated together, always on a larger scale, says Vitzthum, “an incredible number of people in the Hachinger Tal know each other, and word got around whenever we had a party.” Ten or fifteen of them organized parties, also semi-legally in underpasses. The only important thing was: good bar, good music system.

Even then, attempts were made to “get into not so everyday locations”. For example in the “Dreiraum”, the old vaulted cellar on Lindwurmstrasse. At the beginning of the 1990s it started with New Year’s Eve parties, with several hundred people in the freezing cold of a gravel pit between Taufkirchen and Oberhaching – the owner’s daughter was also at the Taufkirchen high school. Vitzthum painted the invitation flyers by hand, the copy shop copied them and passed them on to all friends, an electricity generator guaranteed the music, otherwise there was only fire and torches. The motto: under water. “Motto celebrations have always been our quirk,” says Vitzthum and has to laugh when he talks about a knight’s festival: “People jump on this motto, celebrate it – and felt like knights that evening.” There was even a scaffold, at some point someone had the idea of ​​locking others in it: “Some were so scared that tears flowed.”

The parties didn’t follow a rhythm, arose on a whim, ran parallel to the rest of life. Up to the thing with the “Jagdhof”. In the mid-nineties he had heard about a party at an abandoned inn in the Hofoldinger Forst, a once-popular day-trip bar that had been gutted. A restaurateur had bought the ruins, wanted to develop the property, but had trouble with the community, everything was on hold, so he allowed his children to throw parties there. “Only they didn’t know anyone,” says Vitzthum, “we do.” You got into business. A club was created like in the city, only on the outskirts.

“We had no idea about the club business.”

500 guests came to the premiere. They christened the place Progressive Voice Club, PVC for short – an acronym that still puts a sparkle in the eyes of many a Taufkirchener or Hachinger today. The makers recruited bouncers from their circle of friends, and a gastro acquaintance took over the bar. Vitzthum says: “We had no idea about the club business, but we collected 1,500 addresses, and mail was sent once a month. We were so enthusiastic that we closed printed different flyers for each party.”

Only: What music to play so that as many as possible come? A hit wave had swept over the city from the “Babalu” in Leopoldstrasse, the bar lady had inherited banana crates of old single records, and so on Fridays they tried out a hit evening – and it was a hit. Now every two weeks there was a “Schlager-evening”.

“People came from all over Munich in frilly shirts, a city magazine reported that the shop was booming,” says Vitzthum. It went on like this for two years, then the municipality tightened the requirements, and at some point it was over: demolition. “Now there is a green meadow, a forest clearing.” The party team scattered, studied, started families, there were only occasional celebrations in different places – until eleven years after the end of PVC, someone photographed said forest clearing and founded a Remember PVC group on Facebook. The expected reflex: Let’s party again!

Phase two began in 2010 with a carnival celebration in the former “Laab” on Franziskanerstraße. The same decoration, the DJ as always in a frilly shirt under the police jacket and many, many regulars, some of whom are gray, it doesn’t matter. Happenings followed in the shisha bar in Kaufring at Ostbahnhof, in a dance school at Harras, in the Maratonga dance bar and in the foyer of the old Volkstheater, with the permission of artistic director Christian Stückl.

“It’s nice to see that you’re getting older together and still haven’t forgotten how to celebrate.”

The last party before Corona rose in a train station pizzeria – then it was over. Until this carnival Saturday. Four years without a celebration, and then you had to cancel two days in advance because the location – the former “Unterfahrt” in Kirchenstrasse – was booked twice. It doesn’t matter, it was postponed by a week – people came anyway, about 150 people. Vitzthum’s conclusion: “It’s nice to see that you’re getting older together and still haven’t forgotten how to celebrate.”

So it’s not surprising that he wanted to do the book presentation in a club, “not just to make the book appear, but also to make a happening out of it”. The “Harry Klein” agreed immediately: “They go ski touring themselves.” It was a great evening, a few hundred people, music, plus stories from the book, from the mountains.

Ski touring, his other passion. He has been going to the mountains since he was 18: hiking, skiing, snowboarding, ski touring for 25 years. His first tour with a Hachinger buddy, today’s press spokesman for the mountain rescue service: 1600 meters in altitude in the Karwendel, with very old equipment. Still, he caught fire. Sustainability has always concerned him. He hasn’t had a car for 15 years. In 2008 he had to dissolve the agency he was managing director for ten years – and also give away the car. “I repositioned myself, reduced all ancillary costs and asked myself: What do I absolutely need? Not a car.”

“The issue of climate change and mountaineering is a contradiction in terms.”

He started organizing tours without a car, which led to some realizations: “When it comes to climate change and mountaineering, it’s particularly nice to put your finger in the wound: It’s a contradiction in terms. As a mountaineer, you feel like total nature lover – and do exactly the opposite of a couch potato. At most, they go for a walk along the Isar – and are therefore more sustainable than outdoor people who call themselves mountain lovers but destroy nature.” Everyone wants to get out, they think they’re great out there, but getting there and back never plays a role, not even in the tour reports. “It’s not talked about. It’s something I accept. For me, getting there and back was always part of the experience. I’ve tried to convey that with my stories over the years.” In 2019 he started publicizing his tours on Facebook – and was smiled at. “It’s great that it has now become a topic and a book,” says Vitzthum.

"No excursions, but trips": "For me, a day trip is already a journey"says Vitzthum.

“For me, a day trip is already a journey,” says Vitzthum.

(Photo: private)

The idea of ​​no longer having to return to the starting point arose from public transport planning. 18 of the 35 tours in the book are traverses. “For me, a day trip is already a journey,” says Vitzthum, “we don’t do excursions, we do trips. We don’t see whether it takes two or three hours. We don’t compare the travel times or whether it costs three euros more – It’s important to be on the road together.”

“Every day 300,000 people commute into the city by car as a matter of course, as if it were a natural right.”

The urban-rural discussion annoys him: “City dwellers should kindly take the train out, but every day 300,000 people commute to the city by car as a matter of course, as if it were a natural right.” Even the often scolded railway is better than its reputation: “Only the hate bucket is poured out. It has solidified such a negative image, it is difficult to fight against it. But: In his perception, something is happening for the better. “Recently rushing early in the morning two men with skis through the station hall”, says Vitzthum, “acquaintances who were at the book presentation but never go on public transport tours. They ran onto the train and later posted pictures of the tour: two days of public transport crossing, from Schliersee to Tegernsee.” One said he had a fully tanked company car at home. “How cool when people like that overcome the inhibition threshold , do without heated seats and audio books! The bastards are all in the head. We have to develop a willingness to switch from our steed to another.”

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