Ueli Steck, a former carpenter and climber from Ringgenberg near Interlaken in Switzerland, was found dead on 30 April 2017 by other climbers near Nuptse, a 7,861 m peak close to Everest. Steck, known as the “Swiss machine”, was acclimatising before climbing Everest via the Hornbein route on the West Ridge of the world’s highest peak.
The Swiss climber, famous for rapid solo climbs without ropes, appeared to have fallen about 1,000 metres, according to a report in the New York Times.
The 40 year old successfully climbed Everest without oxygen in 2012. This next climb would have taken him to the top via a more challenging route, successfully taken for the last time in 1963. In 2015, he reached the summit of all 82 of the Alpine peaks over 4,000 m in 62 days. He held records for the fastest ascents of the Eiger and Matterhorn.
Don Bowie, a climbing partner from an earlier climb, said on Instagram that he was “Totally gutted right now…beyond sadness.”
On 24 April 2017, Steck posted on Facebook that he had just spent two nights in camp two where he’d enjoyed beautiful warm weather. He said he was sticking to the rule of moving on the mountain, not spending too many nights in camps. Like this we stay in shape and get used to the altitude, he said, closing with: “joy is the essence to the success”.
In a video posted on 11 April 2017, Steck shows the route he planned to take and why he was excited to be attempting the climb.
In the film he talks excitedly about the climb. He says: “I think it’s possible but we don’t know. That’s exactly the challenge, that’s exactly the interesting thing…”
On his website Mr. Steck said: “Mountaineering is a transient experience. I need to continuously repeat it to live it.”