Freeride 07 December 2016 Back to list
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Samuel Anthamatten, the Swiss army knife of the mountains

Multi-talented Swiss mountain man Samuel Anthamatten is a legend among the mountain fraternity. Ice climbing, freeride, extreme skiing: he does it all. And in several disciplines he ranks among the world’s best. We meet this out-of-the-ordinary mountain guide.

Samuel Anthamatten, the Swiss army knife of the mountains

When he’s not in the mountains, Samuel is scrutinising them, sketching out his turns, his lines, his moves. Samuel Anthamatten is passionate about the mountains, and never short of ideas when it comes to getting off the beaten track. This thirty-year-old all-rounder has a real talent for mixing it up, from freeride to freestyle, along with mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, ice climbing and extreme skiing for good measure.

He has mastered every one of these disciplines.


And it’s somewhat surprising considering he’s never set foot in a ski club.

I was born in Zermatt, and I’ve always lived in the same place,” he says. There were four of us, and my parents didn’t have the money to send us all to the ski club. So they taught us to ski instead. To start with, it was easy. We put on our ski gear, stepped outside the kitchen door and skied down the little hill in front of the house. Later, I followed my big brothers around on the slopes in Zermatt. In those days we were different to the other kids. We liked skiing off-piste, jumping over little rocks, and forest skiing. Later, when freestyle became popular, I had a go at it.” 


Self-taught. When it came to finding things to do in the Swiss resort once the snow had gone, history strangely seemed to repeat itself. His big brother Simon taught him how to rock climb just a stone’s throw from the family home. “He needed someone to belay for him, and I was available,” jokes Samuel, whose sense of humour is like his full-on approach to life: inexhaustible. Starting on the little rock face behind the house, the two brothers moved on to longer and longer routes before climbing their first four-thousander, the Breithorn, at the tender ages of 11 and 14.

It was a real adventure. My parents trusted us because Simon had always been a sensible guy. He learned everything he knew from the Zermatt guides. They kept an eye on what we were up to from a distance, but they left us to it. And they still do today, although it really can’t be easy for them from day to day.”After qualifying for the Swiss national climbing team, and always on the lookout for a new challenge, the brothers tried their hand at ice climbing.Mission accomplished, since at 16 the Swiss live wire won his first World Cup victory in the discipline.


At the same time, he managed to qualify as a mountain guide and ski instructor. “It was then that I improved technically and started skiing steep descents for kicks. I was more confident in my skiing ability.” Gradually, skiing took over from ice climbing. Sam began freeriding, and won a place on the World Tour circuit. “Competition allows me to work on the mental side of things. You have to come up with the goods at just the right time. You have one minute to concentrate and give it your all. Skiing a competition face is easy, but skiing it the way you have planned is more difficult.” In his first year on the circuit, he finished second in the GC.


Everything seemed to be going well for this Swiss skier always on the lookout for kicks. A quest that took him onto new ground: extreme skiing.  “My goal is to ski beautiful lines in beautiful mountains. I’m always hunting out new routes down the mountain. In good conditions, it’s even possible to ski climbing routes. I’m not trying to stick my neck out or push beyond the limit; it’s more about looking for ways of doing things. Just for the sake of it. What I like doing is adapting to what the mountains have to offer me. I love the challenge of extreme skiing, but I don’t want to do it every day; it’s risky, and I want it to remain an occasional thing.” 


Now that he’s explored so much of the mountains of Switzerland and the world, the little man with the tan has set his sights on a new adventure: skiing in the Himalayas. “We went to recce the lines on mountain bikes. Some of them have already been skied. The idea is to ski them in our own style. I can’t wait to go back there with skis.”In the meantime, he keeps busy in the mountains.

That’s where he feels at home.“Mountains are not like people. They’re honest. If you make a wrong decision, they’ll let you know straight away; you can’t cheat.”

Products that Sam uses on the pictures



Julbo Freetourer

Julbo White Session movie

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