Mon, May 01, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Famed Swiss climber killed near Everest


Swiss climber Ueli Steck poses for a photograph at Sigoyer, in the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France, on Aug. 13, 2015.

Photo: AFP

Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck, 40, was killed yesterday in a mountaineering accident near Mount Everest in Nepal, expedition organizers said.

Mingma Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks said Steck was killed at Camp 1 of Mount Nuptse. His body has been recovered from the site and been taken to Lukla in Nepal, where the only airport in the Mount Everest area is located.

It was not clear how Steck died, but he was planning to climb Mount Everest and nearby Mount Lhotse next month.

He was the first casualty in the spring mountaineering season in Nepal that began last month and ends in May.

Hundreds of foreign climbers are on the mountains to attempt scaling Himalayan peaks in May when there are a few windows of favorable weather.

Steck was one of the most-renowned mountaineers of his generation.

He was best known for his speed-climbing, including setting several records for ascending the north face of the Eiger, a classic mountaineering peak in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland, that he climbed in two hours and 47 minutes without using a rope.

In 2013 he achieved the first solo climb of the Annapurna south face in Nepal after almost losing his life in a fall there in 2007. For that he received the Piolet d’Or — considered the Oscar of mountaineering — the following year.

In 2015, Steck decided to climb all 82 peaks in the Swiss Alps higher than 4,000 meters traveling between mountains by foot, bike and paraglider only.

He completed the feat in 62 days, helping cement his reputation as the “Swiss Machine.”

Steck said in an interview last month with Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger that he considered himself an “outsider” in the mountaineering scene because athletic achievement is more important to him than adventure.

Asked about his upcoming Everest-Lhotse expedition, involving a quick climb from one peak to the other including an overnight in the death zone, Steck said: “When I’m on Everest I can stop at any point. The risk is therefore quite small. For me it’s primarily a physical project. Either I get through, or I don’t have the strength for the whole traversal.”

Asked what he would consider to be success on his expedition, Steck told Tages-Anzeiger: “Of course I want to climb Everest and Lhotse, but that’s a very high goal. Failure for me would be to die and not come home.”

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