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UKC Articles, Oct 2010
© Martin Schepers Kurt Albert (1954 - 2010)
It is a shock: Kurt Albert is dead. He died on the 28th of September in hospital, after an accident on his home crag in which he took an 18m fall from a "harmless" via ferrata.
Kurt Albert was the father of the Redpoint, who significantly influenced rock climbing not only in his native Germany but far beyond.
His spirit of fun was immortalised in the famous photograph of him hanging ropeless from the rock - beer in hand. He never ceased to underline the fact that for him, it was not soley about numbers and adrenaline, but he sought fun, adventure and challenge.
Kurt was born in 1954 and started climbing at the young age of 14 as part of his local Nuremberg scene. As was customary at the time, he started out in the mountains, where he climbed the Walker Spur at age 17 and the Eiger North Face just one year later. But it was from his first trip to the Elbsandstein in 1973 that Kurt brought back the free climbing bug that was to stay with him his whole life. The sandstone towers of the Elbsandstein, on the border of Germany and the Czech Republic, are famous as one of the birth places of free climbing. The ethics there are strict and the protection is sparse.
Albert transferred his free climbing to the limestone of the Frankenjura where he started to free existing aid routes. It was in 1975 when, for the first time, he marked a route he had freed with a red dot of paint - a Rotpunkt - and thus coined the term for a free climbing style, as it is known today: Redpoint.
Kurt Albert the maths graduate did not work in his profession as a teacher for very long. He was one of those people for whom climbing was much more than a sport - it was his lifestyle, until the very last. No regular job would have fitted into his life, certainly not one that would have taken his freedom away.
Travelling and adventure were a huge part of his life. Alongside Güllich and other top climbers he ventured to many great rock walls across the globe. Patagonia, Venezuela, Karakoram, China, India, Canada: there are not many corners of the world that Kurt did not explore on his search for new rock. In doing that, he left great routes the world over and he made friends everywhere he travelled. For Kurt was not only focussed on following his climbing ambition, but he always maintained a laid-back and good-humored approach to life. Kurt brought high spirits to his lectures and slideshows, from which he partly made his living, his audiences were often in histerics of laughter. Kurt Albert did not only gain fame with his climbing achievements - he had character.
With Kurt Albert, the climbing scene loses one of its most distinguished personalities. It hurts infinitely. But in all that he left us, Kurt lives on.
Kurt Albert - a brief CV:
- 1954: On January 28 Kurt Albert is born in Nuremberg, Germany
A selection of his many first ascents: