Bubendorfer Thomas

"He is not just a climber. The mountains have also turned him into a philosopher and poet" Die WELT. Germany

“The boy wonder of alpinism” (Alpinisme & Randonnée, France)

“Philosopher and Poet” (Die Welt, Germany)

Born in Salzburg, Austria, 1962, Thomas is certainly a boy no longer. With no climbers in his bourgeois family, Thomas discovered mountains by himself at the age of 12. “They asked me questions”, he says, and he set out to answer them. He should grow to become the archetypical solo climber. At 16 he already soloed VI+ routes in his home mountains of Hochkönig and Tennengebirge, but also ice routes on Großglockner and Montblanc. After dozens of solos in Austria he gained international climbing fame when soloing the Philipp-Flamm route in the Civetta Northwest Face in only four hours, one of the hardest free climbs in the Alps at that time. He was 18 then. He had also already climbed Pik Korshenewskaja, 7.135 m, in the Pamirs. Two years later after he became the first (and only to this day!) to free solo the big three north face routes in the Alps: Matterhorn, the Walker Spur (on sight) on Grandes Jorasses, and the Eiger of course, in less than five hours. It is not known that anybody has climbed the Eiger in summer conditions faster than Thomas.

There followed unparalleled solo ascents in Patagonia, Alaska, the Andes and Tibet, always unsupported, always alone in his base camps, with no contact to the outside world. “Solitude is the only thing”, Thomas believes, and, “only when you are alone, you are free”. However, he always enjoys climbing with his trusted partners.

In 1988, Thomas fell 20 meters when posing at a commercial photo session. He survived with 9 discs in his spine broken and his left heel and forefoot joint a mash of bones. Despite lasting injuries he was able to achieve his hardest climbs after the accident. Among these are the first one-day free solo ascent of the 3.000 meter South Face of Aconcagua, 6.956 m, and several alpine free solo ascents up to grade 7a. The hardest free climbs he ever managed was (only) 7b!

In the last twelve years he became a passionate ice climber. With diverse partners he has opened almost thirty new ice and mixed routes in the Austrian ice climbing Mekkas of the Carinthia and Salzburg valleys (Malta, Gastein, Weisssee Glacier).

Thomas has written seven books. He has three children and lives in Monaco.

Favorite shoes:

  • Phantom Tech (Alpinism)
  • Alien (Ski mountaineering)
  • Boostic (Technical sport climbing)


Civetta northwest face, Philipp-Flamm, solo
Droites direct north pillar, free solo, on sight
Grandes Jorasses north face, Walker Spur, free solo, on sight

Matterhorn north face, free solo (3h 50)
Eiger north face, free solo
Mount Fitz Roy, American route (Chouinard), solo, on sight

5 Faces in the Dolomites free solo on one day: Cime di Lavaredo: Cassin, Comici (first free solo), Innerkofler; Marmolada, Don Quixote; Sasso Pordoi, Via Niagara: total of 3.000 meters.
Aconcagua, 6.956 m, south face, Messner Direttissima: first free solo ascent 16,5h
Dachstein (Austria) south face, 900 m, Indirekte: -VII. February 1993. First free solo ascent (and first winter ascent).
Hochthron (Tennengebirge, Austria), Prechtplatte, -VIII. First free solo ascent (1993)
Torsäule (Hochkönig, Austria), Mountainbike, 7a. First free solo ascent (1993)
Mount Laurens, Alaska. First ascent solo unsupported.
2012-2015: Dozens of new routes (The Usual Suspects and Triple A 2012, To have or to be 2013, Fahrenheit 2015, etc.) and two first ascents of 6.000 meter peaks in Tibet.