Call him Mr. Mountainbezwinger

Feb 19, 2019 by Print
Call him Mr. Mountainbezwinger

Follow his social media and you will see that when the basketballs stop bouncing, FC Bayern Munich big man Danilo Barthel does not chill. Just one day off from training is a great excuse for him to climb, bike over or sled down a mountain. And in the off-season, he can be seen jumping into natural pools and hiking to his heart's content. Barthel is Bayern's lover of the great outdoors, and it comes from his upbringing.

"As a family, we went camping a lot. I went outside with my dad a lot," Barthel says. "He still goes skiing, biking, climbing, kayaking. And I did all that stuff when I was young. So that's the reason I like it."

Of course, during his basketball career, many of the things he likes to do outdoors are off limits to Barthel due to his contractual obligations to safeguard his playing ability and his career.

"My dad does power gliding. I went with him a couple times."

"Especially the dangerous things outside, like climbing, snowboarding, skiing , power gliding," he said. "My dad does power gliding. I went with him a couple times. When I was at Frankfurt, I actually did it one time and twisted my foot on the landing, so there's a reason it's not allowed anymore."

Having grown up in the small, old university town of Heidelberg – "I always say it's the most beautiful city in Germany" – Barthel moved at age 19 to Frankfurt to play five seasons with Fraport Skyliners. And it was there that he found that he needed to seek out nature more often.

"I really like to get out of the city if we have some free time or an off day, just to relax or get my mind off basketball," says the 2.08-meter forward.

"Especially when you live in bigger cities, like I used to in Frankfurt for five years, and now in Munich, there are always a lot of people, it's crowded. So I like to have some free time with nobody around me to just enjoy and think about different things.

"Here in Munich it's really easy. In 30 minutes, you can be in the mountains or on a lake." Among his favorite getaways is Spitzingsee, a small lake in the mountains south of Munich near the Austrian border, where Barthel hikes in warmer months.

"You get to drive a little bit into nature and there's not a lot of people there," he says. "And on the way down from a hike, we walked past some natural pools. It was a really hot day, so it was perfect. You could jump from pool to pool."

Now in his first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, playing more games than ever and helping Bayern compete at an elite level, Barthel has fewer off days and less energy to spare.

"In-season, it's really tough to do these things, because you get tired on a hike if you go up a thousand meters or hike for six hours," he says. "It's too much. But to just get out in nature, it's big for me." That has not prevented him in the past from collecting a few teammates to spend a rare off day seeing the wonders of nature.

"In training camp, we went up a mountain by cable car and went down by electric bike. It was really fun. I truly use every single minute to do stuff like that," he says.

Neither could Barthel and a couple of teammates resist the temptation of sledding in the snow one day for fun. "We weren't really sure if we were allowed," he says. "We heard about a nice sled-riding route close to Munich, so on an off day, we just jumped on it. Nobody got injured, so maybe I'm going to do it again."

The off-season is even less of an opportunity to rest for Barthel.

"I really cannot sit still... More than one day at the beach is pretty much impossible for me."

"I really cannot sit still for a long time, even when I'm on vacation," he says. "More than one day at the beach is pretty much impossible for me. I have to work out or do something, especially a lot of swimming. And doing other sports, hiking, riding a bike, everything is good for staying in shape." He will wait until after his career is over, however, to resume one of his favorite activities: snowboarding.

"I was really big on snowboarding," Barthel says. "I used to go three, four, five times a year. So that's the biggest thing I am missing now."