25 years Waldschrat´s Adventure Company,
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Photos and text by Thomas Gut
21st of October 1988, Thomas Gut signed the contract to buy a little farm in the Bavarian Wood, Germany, southeast part of Bavaria. This marks the end of his career as an chemistry engineer. He developed Crash Pad Sheets for the car industry at Kaliko GmbH.
Starting with a traditional Siberian Husky, his dogs has arrived the number of six, which was too much for the little house he lived in the little town of Eislingen, with no garden, just roads and houses around. The farm he bought is situated in a nice clearing in the Bavarian Wood, famous for the cold climate. Six months winter and six months cold a saying tells.
Perfect place to raise a sleddog kennel there. There was only one fault, he could not continue his work. So there remained just one solution, the dogs must help to raise the money to finance the whole thing and their future life. A lucky chance leads him to Ararad Katchikian and his Scuola Internationale Mushing, inspired from Rick Swenson at Tonale - Pas in Italy. This starts the idea, not to just driving tourists around, but to give them the possibility, to drive their own teams. This developed into the now well-known sleddog school with clients from all of Europe and overseas.
He starts buying and breeding dogs, now Alaskan Huskies, with bloodlines from Terry Streeper and George Attla. The former climber, caver and ski mountaineer was used to strong training and starts the same with his dogs. Soon first success arrived in sleddog races. With his former companion Frank Sihler he finished the Alpirod race in the Alps and two years later the Transitalia race in 4th place.
These races were very important for him, because there he meets very famous mushers from Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia; for example, Roxy Wright Champaine, Joe and Sherry Runyan, Rick and Kathy Swenson, Grant Beck, Hans Gatt, Dick Mackey, Tim White and Libby Riddles. Even musher legend Gareth Wright showed up to help his daughter Roxy. Especially Tim White shared his knowledge and all this new impressions lasts for years to work on and to develop his own well trained and disciplined dog team, for which the "Waldschrat" now is known about in Europe and even overseas.
With Dick he is still in contact and Libby is still friends with him until today. Press and film got attentive on the bearded, barefoot running Thomas, who, for whatever reason, got the nickname "Waldschrat", which means a bearded barefoot running cobold in the woods.
Business raised and held on until today. So success went on, he wins the Memorial race in Krkonose Mountains, Czechia in 1990 and 1991.
This was a race for one dog team and 2 persons, where usually one runs on skies, tied to the sled. At that time it runs in three days on non groomed trails over the rough and steep mountains of Krkonose. All equipment for man and dogs must be be carried in the sled, no possibility to complete missing things during the race. He was 2nd in Kamchatka, at the 300 km Beringia race in 1994. Another great race, which last long in his mind, especially the contact to the native Korjak people, who visited him one year later.
In the Alpentrail he competed regularly, a shorter, but nevertheless very pleasant race, which followed the Alpirod. His best finish was 3rd in 1997. Thomas also competed successfully in several sprint and mid-distance races and finished 1st in the Bavarian Sprint championships in 1997 and the mid-distance championships, too.
2nd in the Europ cup Mid-distance 1998, 8th in the European Championships Sprint in 1999 and 6th in the EC Mid-distance in the same year. All in the open class.
He had three children with his first wife and his elder son, Franz, who accompanied him on most of the races, starting competing himself in 2 dog class races in Italy, where he won the champion title in 1999, in the grownup class. Sleddog races for juniors were not allowed in Germany at that time.
At the Transitalia race Dick Mackey gave Franz the nickname "Franzitalia". All in all, he started in more than 100 races and finished a third in the places.
But not only in races he was interested, he also made some interesting trips in the Alps and Czechia. So with his friend Ivan Kobr he traversed the "Schneekuppe", the highest mountain in the Krkonose mountains for the first time with a dogteam. Than he tried to cross the Alps from Chamonix to Salzburg, but due to bad weather conditions he could run only around 300 km. This was a project for "Wildlife on Tour" which wanted to attract attention on the threatened species of animals Wolf, Bear and Lynx.
In 2000 they repeated this tour, this time successfully in the Bavarian Wood, which they crossed with 5 dog teams from Bayrisch Eisenstein to Grainet along the border of the National Park. During this event, he also carried the first post by sleddog team in Germany.
Thomas is president of his own sleddog club and worked many years as a commissioner for nature conservation for the Germany Sleddog Federation. He also worked many years in the youth education for sledogs sports. He made his money not only with sleddogs, in summer he worked as a guide for hiking, survival, climbing, canyoning and caving.
He founded the first canoe rent station on the river "Regen", where now you find a lot of them. He made education to an national nature guide, made the French caving guide education and learned three years for a Tellington - Touch instructor under the guidance of Linda Tellington Jones and her German right-hand Bibi Degn.
The year 2000 brought some great changes in the new career of Thomas. After Frank Sihler left for Alaska 1992, Thomas' wife, Ingrid, left. For the next 4 years he worked the business all alone.
Then Anke, his girlfriend started living with him and with her had their two children Tom and Anna, the youngest of his now five children. The two elder children Franz and Maria turned back to him, too.
He stopped racing, and only a few times he ran Alpentrail with his
girlfriend. He also changed his summer business and due to weather condition,
which provides year for year more colder summer, he extended his sleddog business
to all year. So
in summer, he provides sleddog rides and little workshops, whereas in winter
Some new films for TV are made, first Wofgang Jung produced a 40 minutes
film for SWR3,called "Heiße Kufen, kalte
Schnauzen", which shows the Alpentrail race 2001 (finishing 7th) and the
sleddog school of Thomas.
2003 -2004 Laszlo Hartmann produced a 45 minutes film, called "Der Waldschrat und seine Huskies" for BR3, which showed the life of Thomas. This film was seen by more than 1 Million spectators.
In 2001 he wrote a book named "Canyoning", a how to do manual for this fascinating sport. In 2003 followed "Mushing", the
first German written Sleddog Manual. This book now is printed in the 3rd edition. Unfortunately it is available only in German. Thomas still is looking for a publisher, who will translate and print it in English.
The last years he renovates house and kennel and installed a solar plant on the roof. Now with own water, own electricity and own animals for meat he is one step closer to his dream of a self-sufficient life.
In 2009 he and his family moved for the first time to Scandinavia, where Teisto Thorneus, a former Alpirod contender, offered him his place as a base camp for sleddog tours into the fjäll and tundra north of Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. Today Teisto's successors Daniela Hohn and Jan Borinski from White Trail Adventures have become good friends and he could use their Camp as a starting point for his adventures with his family and for the sleddog tours, he offers here for his regular customers.
He changed his breeding program to long distance dogs with bloodlines from Doug Swingley, Ketil Reitan, Lance Mackey, Jeff King and Robert Sorlie, which are available from mushers in Sweden and Norway.
More information can be found at http://www.waldschrat-adventure.de/
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