Udo Neumann
Udo Neumann

It’s only an adventure if something goes wrong

From spilling his slides, putting them back in random order and still giving an grandiose presentation to notoriously misplacing his car keys so that every drive home was in question till he actually found them – Kurt was a master in being resourceful about what he felt are the truly important things in life while letting the lesser aspects slip. If you always put your keys in one secure spot and know where they are – you are passing the opportunity of a potential adventure after all. And who wants to live a live without adventures?
People left Kurt’s presentations refreshed and inspired, promising to themselves to allow for more adventures in their lives. Everybody who came in touch with Kurt has a story to tell. Here are three of mine …


In 1984 Kurt brought a 200m static rope to the Verdon. In the night we would lower ourselves the 200m and climb up again, of course without head lamps. That was good fun. One time Jerry Moffatt got way off route. We were staring at the horizontal rope disappearing in the darkness, hoping Jerry would figure some way out of this dangerous situation. He didn’t and, at one point just let go, screamingly flying through the blackness. Mind you, those were the days toproping was considered not proper climbing! Did Kurt, the inventor of the redpoint, care of nitpicking about styles? Of course not, if it was challenging and fun it was all good!


Around 1996 Kurt became interested in Whitewater, first as a way to reach his remote climbing destinations by fair means via rivers, than as a motivation of its own. Paddling is a dangerous and very scary activity insanely difficult to learn beyond a certain age. And Kurt was scared! Very much so!
Climbing is an activity favoring control freaks, taking place on static rock. Water on the other hand is fluid, nothing goes 100% according to plan, thus requiring a flexible mind.
It was a testimony to Kurt’s bravery how he dealt with learning about this new medium. Methodically he learned to do the eskimo roll first and within a few years could paddle rivers like the mighty Colorado through the Grand Canyon.


From my point of view Kurt’s favorite place on earth was Fontainebleau. This is where we met the most. Kurt was into solving riddles, intellectual ones as well as the myriad of movement problems Bleau confronts you with. It must have been around 1987 when we working on a red problem in Roche aux Sabots on a humid summer day, destroying our elbows for the rest of the year in the process. I did the problem many times since than, always wondering what stupid solution we were trying than. Would we have checked out the problem beforehand on youtube, if the technology existed than?
Hell no! That would have been like storing your car key in a save location and would have spoiled the challenge. Der Weg ist das Ziel, after all!

Jerry Moffatt read an excerpt from Winnie the Poo that sums up the inspiration Kurt gave to people:

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. i’ll always be with you.”
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