billi bierling female mountaineer and journalist from Germany

About me

Billi at home in the Solokhumbu, October 2008As a journalist I normally write about other people, which is the reason why talking about myself seems rather tricky – and for this reason I will try and keep this introduction about me as short as possible.

I was born in the German Alps, in a village with the long German name of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. My home town is one of the most famous German ski resorts and many hikers and climbers go there in the summer for their activities. However, as long as I lived in the Alps, I was not interested in climbing or mountaineering – this I started when I was living in the UK, which seems rather strange. However, the UK offers some great rock  in the Peak or Lake Districts, and of course in Scotland (where we normally climbed in our full waterproof gear). When I started rock climbing I found out that this often involved hiking (which I absolutely loathed back then) and when I came to Nepal for the first time in 1998 I learnt Himalayan mountaineering the hard way. There I had to walk for nearly two weeks to get to the bottom of a mountain!

After my first visit to the Himalayan Republic (which was still a kingdom back then) I absolutely fell in love with the country and I kept on coming back here every year for trekking and climbing.  I lived in London from 1991 to 2001, during which time I worked as a translator and interpreter. In 1999 I completed my Master’s Degree in Journalism and in 2001 I moved to the Swiss capital of Bern, where I worked as a radio journalist for three years. Even though I lived in the midst of the beautiful Swiss Alps I missed Nepal until I decided to give up my life in Europe and move to Kathmandu. I wrote a letter to Miss Elizabeth Hawley, the Himalayan Chronicler (whom I met in 2000 when I was climbing Baruntse) and asked her whether she needed any help in interviewing mountaineering teams about their expeditions. Miss Hawley, to my surprise, replied to my letter telling me that she needed help, and so I moved to Kathmandu in October 2004.

Initially I was planning on staying here for one season, however, like so often in life I am still in the Nepalese capital. Kathmandu can be hard work sometimes as we have to cope with up to 16 hours of power cuts per day, atrocious pollution and mad traffic jams, however, the city also gives you a buzz and life here is exciting and certainly never boring!

Apart from working for Miss Hawley, I write stories for several mountaineering publications and I compile political radio reports for the English service of Deutsche Welle Radio. During the climbing seasons, which take place in spring and autumn, interviewing expedition leaders keeps me busy most of the time. However, as mountaineering is a very important part of my life I try and escape to the mountains twice a year. I normally lead expeditions to smaller trekking peaks, such as Mera Peak and Imjatse (Island Peak) in the Everest Region.

Interviews I have done