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Pit Schubert honoured for lifetime contributions to safety
04 Dec 2008
Engineer and mountaineer Pit Schubert has been elected the UIAA's latest honorary member, in thanks for his extensive work on making the sport safer. The German climber played a major role in establishing the UIAA Safety Label standards for mountaineering equipment.
From 1973 until 2004, Schubert was a member of the UIAA Safety Commission and for the last eight years he served as president. He founded the Safety Commission of the German Alpine Association (DAV) in 1968 and was the association's safety director for 32 years.
Originally Pit Schubert trained as a mechanical engineer and worked for 15 years in the aeronautics and space industries. In 1978 he began working full time with mountaineering safety research, but took with him a lot of inspiration from his previous career.
Safety standards only existed for ropes and karabiners, while there are now UIAA standards for 19 categories of climbing and mountaineering equipment. "It was very important for me that with any improved technique or piece of equipment the chance of survival for myself while climbing and mountaineering became better and better," says Schubert.
In 1976, he lost his toes to frostbite while doing the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna, but this did not stop his mountaineering career. "I made the experience that toes are not necessary for climbing, mountaineering or skiing and I do all kinds of mountaineering sports as before - adapted to my age," Schubert says.
His friend Carlo Zanantoni told the UIAA a story of Schubert's attention to detail and love of the mountains: Before they met, Zanantoni was staying at the Vaiolet hut in the Dolomites near the the imposing 500m wall of the Pala di Socorda. This has a particularly interesting route on the right edge overcome by Pit Schubert and Klaus Werner in 1970. "During a quiet evening at the Vaiolet hut, my attention was drawn to the hut book that a few people were commenting on; a closer look at the book revealed a description of a new route made with an accuracy that I never found anywhere else," says Zanantoni. "It was the route in question, described pitch by pitch, and for each pitch length and details about difficulties, used pitons, as well as natural means of protection. That was an astonishing piece of professional work."
Pit Schubert remains positive about how the sport of mountaineering and climbing is developing and only has one concern: that the greater focus on completing climbs and expeditions as fast as possible enhances the possibility of making dangerous mistakes under stress. "Life is so beautiful that we should not increase the risks while climbing and mountaineering more than really necessary," he says.
For more information about Pit Schubert, please read his Honorary member profile.