KATHMANDU, April 30:Swiss climber Ueli Steck famed for his relentless mountaineering feats perished near Mt Everest during a mountaineering accident early morning on Sunday. He was 40.
Steck, whose accomplishments earned him the nickname ‘the Swiss Machine’, died after skidding off about 1,000 meters down nearby Everest base camp-2, confirmed Durga Datta Dhakal, spokesperson of the Department of Tourism.
The department informed that the Swiss climber this year had taken permit to climb Mt Everest and Mt Nuptse, a smaller peak in the area. “Unfortunately, he slipped while en route to Nuptse at around 6 am,” informed Dhakal. The accident site is the meeting point of Lhotse, Nuptse and Everest.
His expedition was organized by Kathmandu-based Seven Summits Treks Pvt, Ltd. He is the first casualty in this year’s mountaineering season in Nepal, which began in March.
Steck’s body was recovered from the incident site and airlifted to Kathmandu on Sunday.
Hundreds of condolence messages poured in after the death of the Swiss. “This is a truly tragic day in mountaineering,” wrote Alan Arnette, a renowned summit coach and Everest summiteer.
Arguably known as one of the most feted mountaineers of his generation, Steck’s impressive achievements include scaling Everest (8,848 meters) without oxygen, achieving the first solo climb of Mt Annapurna (8,091 meters), speed ascents of iconic Alpine routes, as well as scaling all 82 Alpine peaks higher than 4,000 meters in 2015.
For the impressive feats that he achieved, Steck won the Piolet d’Or award (French for The Golden Ice Axe), which is considered as the ‘Oscar of mountaineering’ in 2014.
In 2013, he came to public attention over an Everest incident that could possibly be the worlds’ highest altitude brawl. That year on April 27, three foreign climbers including Steck, got involved in a violent confrontation with a group of Sherpa guides.
The row between them had started after the three ignored Sherpas’ request not to climb the Everest until they had finished fixing the ropes above Camp-2 (6,400 meters) for guided expedition groups. The dangerous brawl ceased without any causality, but the incident continued to be in discussions after both the sides continued blaming the other as the cause of the incident.
Since this year’s Everest season started in May, 51 groups of climbers are attempting to scale the world’s tallest peak, according to Department of Tourism.