“Swiss Machine” Ueli Steck Dies in First Everest Death of Season

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More than a thousand comments poured onto Ueli Steck’s Facebook page this morning as news of his death on Mt Everest spread. The 41-year-old “Swiss Machine”, as he was known throughout the mountaineering community, was reported killed in a climbing accident near Camp II on Mt Everest Sunday morning.

The death has been confirmed.

Six rescuers discovered Ueli Steck’s body near the Nuptse Face of Everest. Peers had seen him climbing the icy Mt Nuptse alone at around 4:30 am. Nepal’s tourism officials say the experienced Everest climber slipped from a slope and fell into a crevasse at around 6,600 meters. They’ve airlifted his body to Lukla, the closest airport to Everest.

Ueli Steck’s Expedition

Steck and Tenzing (Tenji) Sherpa headed to Khumbu region to attempt to climb Mt Everest by the never-repeated West Ridge/Hornbein Couloir route. They were trekking without using supplemental oxygen, training to acclimatize themselves. The plan was to descend to the South Col, climbing the direct route just below the Lhotse Face. Steck was going to ascend 8,850-meter Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse next month. He had posted these photos on Facebook just last week.

Ueli Steck

“Just spent two nights in Camp Two. Beautiful weather and warm. I was taking the chance to go and have a look towards the west shoulder. Conditions are great so far. But you never know it can change until in one month! So far we having a good time! Hopefully Tenjing Sherpa frostbite getting better soon so we can be together on the mountain again. Right now it looks like we have to stay again camp two. Expedition weather forecast again very strong winds for the next days. After we keep going getting acclimatized, I stick to the route to move on the mountain and not spending too many nights in camps. Like this we stay in shape and get used to the altitude!

Joy is the essence to the success.

Swiss Alpinist’s Records

Steck was known for his speed records; climbing the north face of the Eiger in 2 hours and 47 minutes in 2008 in his early 30s. He had first climbed the Eiger and the Bonatti Pillar in the Mont Blanc massif at 18. When Swiss climber, Dani Arnold, beat Ueli Steck’s record, the Swiss Machine returned in 2015, clocking in at 2 hours 22 minutes (and 50 seconds). He won the Piolet D’or award in 2009 for his first ascent of Tengkampoche north face (6500m), Khumbu Valley, Nepal, and then again in 2014 for a solo ascent of the South face of Annapurna (8091 m) in Nepal. In 2015, Steck earned another record, summitting 82, 4,000-meter peaks in 80 days.

Ironically, in 2016, Steck and fellow mountaineer David Goettler discovered the remains of world renowned climber Alex Lowe and cameraman David Bridges, on Shishapangma in Tibet. An avalanche struck and killed them in 1999.

Steck’s family learned of his death today. He is survived by his wife Nicole who is also a climber. They married in 2007 and honeymooned on the North Face of the Eiger. Steck’s death is the first casualty of this spring’s mountaineering season in Nepal. There are 365 registered climbers from 39 teams scheduled to depart, according to officials. Hopefully, everyone stays safe. Last year, six climbers died on Mount Everest.

 

 

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