|The most elitist group of athletes in the world are solo mountain climbers. Solo climbers conquer the world's steepest, most dangerous and highest mountains without the use of any ropes, and alone. A solo climbers resources for succeeding are a perfect mental and
physical condition, detailed planning and preparation, and the unique ability to take calculated personal risks. In 1983, at the age of 21, Thomas Bubendorfer joined this small circle of solo climbers by conquering the highest and hardest face in the Alps - the notorious Eiger North Face in Switzerland. His historic 4-hour and 50-minute record stands to this day. Since that day, Thomas has been one of the dominating personalities in this sport. His list of climbing achievements, dating back as far as 1978, is unparalleled.
||Unprecedented 30 first solo ascents until age 21
||Thomas Bubendorfer started climbing at the age of 12 - on his own,
without any experience or guidance. He is the only climber in his
family. To him, who had a very sheltered upbringing, mountains were
an enticement promising adventure, venturing into the unknown, crossing
of thresholds. Mountains became the symbol of something that was not
only bigger than himself but that offered great opportunities to his
spirit, his heart, and his talents. "There was no external
necessity for my climbing, he recalls, "only a need for
excitement and intense feelings, an urge to explore my potential and
limits, and nothing but the mountains offered this to me. He
soon found experienced climbers who took him under their wings and
taught him the basics of mountaineering. Thomas was a motivated and
fast learner and submitted himself to marathon running and 300 daily
chin-ups. At the age of 14 he already set numerous "youth records
and became the youngest climber to lead some of the most difficult
rock and ice climbs in the Alps at that time.
||By the time Thomas Bubendorfer was 21, he had set an
unprecedented 30 first solo ascents (all of which are rated "hard-severe),
speed solo climbing records and "youth records in Austria,
Switzerland, Italy, France and on a 23,000-foot peak in the former
Soviet Union (at age 18). These include the infamous 3,000-foot "Philipp
Dihedral in the northwest face of Mount Civetta in the Italian
Dolomites (also in 1980), where he beat the 7-hour record established
by the famous Italian Reinhold Messner by three hours! and the biggest
and most famous mixed (rock and ice) climbs in the Alps.
||Most records unchallenged
Thomas won international fame as the first and only climber to solo
ascend without ropes and in record time the treacherous north faces
of the "Big Three: Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses.
His most famous climb was the epic and unchallenged "free solo
(meaning no ropes) of the notorious Eiger in 4 hours 50 minutes. To
put this into perspective: on the Eiger he passed two well-equipped
English teams whom it took three days to reach the summit; on the
north face of Matterhorn, Thomas passed a Japanese team whom it took
five days to complete what he did in 3 hours and 50 minutes.