Biography Pit Schubert
Born in 1935 in Breslau, Silesia (now Poland), Pit Schubert studied mechanical engineering in Frankfurt, having experienced the Second World War at close quarters. After completing his studies in 1961, he worked for 15 years in the aeronautics and space industries as well as in the medical engineering division of an aeronautics company before finally dedicating himself full-time to mountaineering safety research with the German Alpine Association in 1978. At that time he had already been Director of the Association's Safety Group for ten years, i.e. since its formation in 1968.
During his career as an aeronautics engineer, Schubert took part in the development of a vertical takeoff and landing jet, in the third stage of the precursor to the European Ariane Rocket as well as in the development of mass production methods for a helicopter. Additional projects included the actuation of an artificial heart, a prosthetic hand for amputees and a device to correct scoliosis.
As Safety Director at the German Alpine Association, Schubert focused primarily on accident research, evaluation and prevention, on basic research (e.g. on belaying theory), on materials testing both in the laboratory and in the field, as well as on the standardisation of mountaineering equipment as a member of national and international standardisation committees. In 1994, Pit Schubert published German and Spanish editions of a book entitled Safety and Risks on Rock and Ice (Bergverlag Rother, Munich), which provides a comprehensive summary of the results of the Association's Safety Group's 25 years of experience.
Schubert started his mountaineering activity at the age of seventeen. His career has led him to many of the classical Alpine north faces (e.g. Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses), and to extreme climbing with most difficult routes and many firsts in the Alps. He has participated in over forty small and four large expeditions (two as their leader) to the Himalaya, particularly to Tibet, Nepal and India, with a number of first ascents in the six- and seven-thousand-metre range. He suffered frostbite in the south face of Annapurna IV (7525 m), making it necessary to amputate his toes. This, however, has not prevented him from continuing to make extremely difficult climbs on rock and ice. «There are climbing pitches (...) where toes merely represent a handicap, where it is actually easier without them - though not too many people are in on this secret yet». Today, however, Schubert favours sun-lit rock.
Pit Schubert is a member of the German Alpine Association, the Austrian Alpine Club and the Groupe de Haute Montagne. He has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and received the Dietmar Eibl Prize in Austria, which is awarded to organisations or persons who have rendered outstanding services in mountaineering safety. He has now been distinguished with the1996 King Albert Medal of Merit.