Ponholzer grew up as one of 11 siblings in a poor family in Eastern Tyrol. As a child he took part in a memorial ceremony commemorating Toni Egger shortly after his unlikely disappearance on the fantastical spires of far off Patagonia. For little Toni Ponholzer, Toni Egger was a romantic hero. He decided that he would solve the mystery surrounding his death. He was then six years old.
In 1984, Ponholzer traveled to Patagonia for the first time and has been back innumerable times since. More than anything Toni remained loyal to his childhood dream and tried the line 1959 line Maestri described over and over again. Every time with the hope of coming across a pin or some other clue that Egger really had been up there with Maestri. If there were no traces to the very top, this would at least be evidence that he never arrived at the summit. Born in 1962 this mountain guide has spent almost 30 unsuccessful years in his quest to repeat the original route. Still, he remains steadfast in solving the riddle one day.