Remembering Pit Schubert

Membership, Safety

The UIAA is saddened to hear about the recent passing of Pit Schubert, UIAA Honorary Member and longstanding member of the UIAA Safety Commission.

Climbing Career

Pit Schubert was born on 2 December 1935 in Breslau (Wrocław). He started climbing at 17 and became one of the first German climbers to scale the three classic big North faces of the Alps: Eiger, Matterhorn and Grand Jorasses.

His climbing career included almost fifty first ascents in the Alps, the 380m, grade VI, SW-Ridge on the Guglia di Brenta in the Dolomites, the 220 m, grade VI+ South Face on the Piz Ciavazes in the Dolomites and in 1975, the 360m, grade VII East Face on the Fleischbank in the Kaisergebirge.  He made several first ascents in Greenland and the Himalayas: in 1969 the Roc Noir/ Khangsar Kang (7485m) in the Karakoram and in 1976, the 5000m high South Face of the Annapurna IV (7525 m). He visited the Himalaya over 60 times. In 1976, he lost his toes to frostbite while doing the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna, but this did not curtail his mountaineering career, saying: “I made the finding that toes are not necessary for climbing, mountaineering or skiing and I do all kinds of mountaineering sports as before – I adapted to my age.”

Commitment to Mountain Safety

Schubert began his professional career as an engineer. After completing his mechanical engineering studies in Frankfurt in 1961, he worked for 15 years in the aeronautics and space industries, before finally dedicating himself full-time to mountaineering safety research with the DAV in 1978.

Ten years earlier he founded the DAV Safety Commission and worked as the safety director from its start in 1968 until his retirement in 2000. From 1973 until 2004 he was a member of the UIAA Safety Commission. The last eight years he served as President. Schubert focused primarily on accident research, evaluation and prevention as well as basic research, for example, belaying theory, material testing both in the laboratory and in the field, as well as the standardisation of mountaineering equipment.

By analysing and researching causes of accidents and exhaustive testing of technical material, he succeeded in establishing the UIAA standards for mountaineering equipment. His safety recommendations have been instrumental in preventing innumerable accidents.

“When I started my work on safety for climbers and mountaineers in 1968, it was very easy to make big developments because there was a lot left to do,” Schubert told the UIAA when becoming an Honorary Member in 2008. “At that time man was making the first flight to the moon a reality, but we were still using ice axes with wooden shafts – which could break on the first use on the ice – so a lot of things were waiting to be done. 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.”

He is the author of several publications on mountaineering and climbing safety, which have been translated into numerous languages.


Pit Schubert was a member of the German Alpine Association, the Austrian Alpine Club and the Groupe de Haute Montagne. He was 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 was also distinguished with the 1996 King Albert Medal of Merit. He became a UIAA Honorary Member in 2008 and is an honorary President of SafeCom.

UIAA Tribute

Former UIAA Safety Commission President Jean-Franck Charlet, himself an Honorary Member of SafeCom, worked closely with Schubert and shared the following tribute:


Pit Schubert, extreme mountaineer and engineer, was an early advocate of greater safety and better risk management in mountain sports. He is the father of numerous general safety recommendations, particularly on the correct use of equipment. He was behind the creation of the “Sicherheitskreiss” within the German Alpine Club – DAV. This very quickly led him to define the resistance and ergonomy criteria for this equipment, and this is how he first drew up DIN standards for all these products. Then, in the 1990s, he played a key role in standardisation at European and world level, with the development of so many UIAA standards. This tireless tester was chairman of the European standardisation committees and for many years chairman of the UIAA Safety Commission (SafeCom), of which he is honorary president. It was a great honour for me to take over these chairmanships just after him, and I am very grateful to him for being there whenever I asked him to be. My favourite joke was to remind him that he had preceded me by twenty years on the North Face of the Drus, the Grandes Jorasses, the Peuterey ridge of Mont Blanc and as President of the UIAA SafeCom, but that I had preceded him by 10 years in meeting his wife, since by chance I had the pleasure of being the guide of the future Mrs Schubert during an ascent of Mont Blanc! Pit, your contribution to the safety of climbers and mountaineers has been immense and they will be eternally grateful to you.


Pit Schubert, alpiniste extrême et ingénieur s’est très tôt passionné pour plus de sécurité et une meilleure gestion du risque dans les sports de montagne. Il est ainsi le père de très nombreuses recommandations générales de sécurité et notamment sur la bonne utilisation du matériel. Il est à l’origine de la création du « Sicherheitskreiss » au sein du Club Alpin Allemand – DAV. Cela l’a très vite amené à définir les critères de résistance et d’ergonomie de ces matériels et c’est ainsi qu’il a tout d’abord élaboré des normes DIN sur tous ces produits. Puis dans les années 1990 il fut le principal acteur de la normalisation au niveau européen et au niveau mondial avec l’élaboration de tant de normes UIAA. Cet infatigable testeur, fut chairman des commissions européennes de normalisations et pour de nombreuses années président de la commission de sécurité de l’UIAA (Safecom), dont il est president d’honneur. Ce fut un grand honneur pour moi d’assurer ces présidences juste après lui et je lui suis très reconnaissant d’avoir répondu présent à chaque fois que je l’ai alors sollicité. Ma plaisanterie favorite était de lui rappeler qu’il m’avait devancé de vingt ans dans la Face nord des Drus, celle des Grandes Jorasses, de l’arête de Peuterey du mont Blanc et à la présidence de la Safcom UIAA, mais que moi je l’avais précédé de 10 ans dans la rencontre de son épouse, puisque par un hasard de la vie j’avais eu le plaisir d’être le guide de la future Madame Schubert lors d’une ascension au mont Blanc ! Pit, ta contribution pour la sécurité des grimpeurs et des alpinistes a été immense et ceux-ci t’en seront éternellement reconnaissant.

DAV (German Alpine Club) tribute

Pit Schubert, 2 December 1935 – 1 March 2024

Main photo: Credit, German Alpine Club