AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Robert Duschinsky, 1900-1991


Robert Duschinsky was bom in Vienna on October 25, 1900. He studied chemistry at the University of Vienna.

He became a devoted mountain climber while still a student. He climbed the mountains in the surroundings of Vienna, which he got to know very well. On June 29, 1924, he had a tragic experience; he lost five of his closest climbingcompanions in a snowstorm on the Tamischbachhorn. That was always a day of mourning for him. The mountains of the South Tirol, especially the Sella and Marmolada groups, were the goals of his longer vacations. He was a pioneer of ski mountaineering.

After completing his studies with a Doctorate in Chemistry in 1926, he was employed as a research chemical engineer. He joined Hoffmann-La Roche in Paris in 1930 and spent the rest of his career with them. He engaged in research for that institute and discovered numerous significant medicaments, which brought him world-wide fame. It was his life-long passion to do what he could to alleviate human suffering.

He joined the French Alpine Club in 1927 and spent nearly every weekend in his favorite areas, the Mont Blanc range or in the Alps of the Valais in Switzerland.

In 1932, he married an American, Marian Wyman. In 1940, they moved to the United States, where he continued to work for Hoffmann-La Roche. They lived very happily together until her death in 1975. He made a great many outstanding climbs in the United States and Canada, being enchanted by the expansiveness and wilderness of America’s mountain world. He often proudly told me how pleased he was when in 1949 he was accepted for membership in the American Alpine Club.

After World War II, he made regular trips to Zermatt and made a number of ascents of the Matterhorn by various routes. He was particularly pleased to have been invited to the 125th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn and was awarded a gold medal at that time. Zermatt guides still talk of his climbs. He made his last ascent of the Matterhorn at the age of 66. He climbed all the 4000-meter peaks of the Alps, the last being the 4165-meter Breithorn, which he ascended at the age of 81! After he retired from Hoffmann-La Roche, to be close to his beloved Alps he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he continued work at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research. In complete harmony, he completed his long and fruitful life, the last fifteen years of which I was privileged to share.

Susanne Barta, Austria