Thomas Bubendorfer is one of the world’s foremost solo climbers. There are only few men in the world who live up to this extreme challenge. Unlike conventional climbers, a free solo climber uses neither ropes nor any other protection. In overhanging rock and ice faces up to ten thousand feet high his life depends entirely on his dedication, focus, and his ability to think and make decisions under extreme pressure: the slightest mistake is lethal. Solo climbing is the ultimate adventure.
In 1981, after military service, the Austrian-born Thomas Bubendorfer moved to Florence, Italy, to study Italian and history of art. When he was only 20, Thomas revolutionised extreme climbing with his rope-free solo ascents of the highest and most difficult rock and ice faces in the Alps. Unparalleled solo climbs in Alaska and the Andes followed.
But mountains were never the only source of insight for Thomas. The son of a typical Austrian upper-class family (without a climber in sight), his dual inspiration came from scaling daunting rocky peaks, mostly alone, and a humanistic education guided by his grandfather and informed by private schooling in Austria and England. This manifested in a holistic approach to peak performance – one where books, languages (he speaks four) and constant learning were interwoven and counter-balanced with relentless climbing endeavours – and still are to this day.
With an early passion for literature and trained not just to perform extreme action, but also to reflect upon it, Thomas wrote his first book at 20, “The solo climber” immediately became a bestseller, as did his second book, “Mount Fitz Roy – the quality of the next step”, which he wrote at 23. German critics compared it with “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Thomas has now written seven books. His last one was published in 2012 for the Chinese market.
His breathtaking solo climbs, coupled with his talent to reflect upon them, drew early admirers such as Herbert von Karajan as well as the German-speaking, Italian and French media, and international corporations such as IBM who are constantly on the lookout for motivational inspiration.
Already a professional climber by the age of 19, and with sponsorships secured in Italy and Germany, his lecture tours and first TV appearances came as naturally to Thomas as climbing did at the age of 12. He began appearing regularly on German television, as well as in Italy and France. More than a dozen TV documentaries have to date been produced about his life, philosophy and achievements.
Having become Continental Europe’s most sought-after adventure keynote speaker, major business magazines such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review, in both Germany and Italy, have written features on him. Beyond Europe, he has inspired articles in Forbes China, Fortune China, China Daily and many more. In 2015 and 2016, respectively, the international client magazines of Porsche and Bentley showcased Thomas and his philosophy (Porsche and Bentley client magazines).
It is not surprising, then, that global performance brands such as Rolex, Leica, AUDI and Siemens have engaged with Thomas, for testimonials. And, since 2012, Thomas Bubendorfer has been the international brand ambassador for Porsche.
Thomas shares his intense experiences and insights every year with audiences in the corporate world, and can speak four languages:- German, French, Italian and English. As he says “There is only one truth. What is true for a solo mountain climber -the attitudes that help him to overcome adversity, anxiety and solitude and to deal with ever increasing risk, decision taking under pressure, crisis and zillions of other de-motivating factors – cannot be false for people in any other profession”. Thomas Bubendorfer emphasises that man, the individual, is at the centre of all his thinking. However, he does not deny the importance of the team. “Teamwork is vital. Trust and communication among team members are of the essence. Nobody can excel and achieve true fulfilment all by himself. Still, it’s not the team and the company you’re working for that are running your show. It’s you! Your success and your happiness depend primarily on yourself: on your positive attitude, your self-motivation, your commitment, your self-confidence, which is based on your achievements and excellence in your chosen area of expertise!”
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