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I was born in 1966, and for 23 years I’ve been a passionate and successful mineral collector. When I was a young child a box of my grandfather’s minerals awakened my interest, and soon I had my own little collection of purchased mineral specimens.

At the age of 30, without any experience or guidance, I began to search for minerals in the Alps, mostly in vain at first. Nevertheless, I gradually developed a sense of where to look, and three years later I discovered my first Alpine cleft. I have a special fondness for quartz crystals from the greenschistin the Lungau region, where in March of 2003 I made my best find. In the summer of 2001 my friends and I excavated the Summit Cleft on Weisseck Mountain and recovered many fine fluorite crystals. The find was described in detail in the July–August 2010 issue of the Mineralogical Record.

The Weisseck fluorites are my specialty now, and in recent years I have made some really excellent finds. I have also taken collecting trips to other parts of the Alps, as well as to Spain, Italy and Greece, and I now own a large sub-collection of Spanish minerals as well. There is an unforgettable sense of achievement that comes from putting in weeks of hard work with no guarantee of success, following clues and traces to search out a cleft, working with numb fingers in icy winds, under a certain amount of calculated risk, while the summer sun in the valley warms the heart and mind.

Sometimes, on the edge of exhaustion, I ask myself why I am doing this. But field collecting and getting out in nature is, for me, a kind of freedom that I no longer want to miss. I am fortunate that my dear wife Maria understands me and shares my joy and awe in the many fascinating crystal groups which, when finally salvaged and thoroughly cleaned, reveal their true, unique beauty in the sunlight.

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