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Farewell, Ueli!

The Eiger North Face in the evening light

“I believe he was a totally happy person when it happened,” said Robert Boesch, the Swiss photographer and mountaineer, at the commemoration for his friend Ueli Steck, who had fallen to death from an altitude of about 7,600 meters on Nuptse on 30 April. Every SMS Ueli had sent from Everest Base Camp before had conveyed the message: Everything is perfect, motivation as well as fitness. Boesch believes that it was a spontaneous decision of the 40-year-old not to ascend to Everest South Col, as originally planned, but to climb Nuptse. “The conditions must have been good, otherwise he would not have been so early so far up,” said Robert. Surely Steck had climbed “in a flow”. Why he fell, could not be clarified: “That doesn’t matter, that’s just climbing. He did not have the quantum of luck he would have needed.”

Date

24. May 2017 | 0:25

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Goettler and Barmasse climb through Shishapangma South Face

David Goettler at their highest point (in the background the summit)

Only a few meters have been missing to the top, but they’ve climbed through the wall. David Goettler and Hervé Barmasse entered the Shishapangma South Face on Sunday morning and climbed in 13 hours to a point just below the 8,027-meter-high summit. “We found a last traverse of about ten meters and then five meters up to the summit too delicate due to the avalanche danger,” David writes to me after returning to the Base Camp. Originally, the 38-year-old German and his one year older climbing partner from Italy had planned to open a new route through the South Face. Like in spring 2016, when David had tried the same with the Swiss Ueli Steck, the weather conditions impeded the project.

Date

23. May 2017 | 8:40

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Ueli Steck cremated at Tengboche Monastery

Tengboche Monastery

He would have liked that. At Tengboche Monastery in the Khumbu area, at almost 4,000 meters, with a view to Mount Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam, Ueli Steck’s ​​family bid farewell to the Swiss top climber during a Buddhist ceremony. The 40-year-old had fallen to death on Sunday on the 7861- meter-high Nuptse. “According to the Nepali tradition, the deceased was cremated in an impressive three-hour ceremony,” Steck’s family informed via Facebook. Uelis wife Nicole, his parents and parents-in-law took part. “The family perceived the ceremony as very solemn and impressive, sad and at the same time liberating.” The family will take a part of the ashes back to Switzerland, where a public memorial is planned for friends, acquaintances and companions. Place and time are not yet fixed. On Ueli Steck’ homepage ​​an online book of condolence was established.

Date

4. May 2017 | 23:35

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Ines Papert on Ueli Steck’s death: “It was HIS life!”

Ueli Steck a few days before his fall to death

Why did Ueli Steck choose Nuptse to acclimatize himself? This is a question I ask myself, since on Sunday the news of the death of the Swiss spread like a run-fire. A few days earlier, the 40-year-old had climbed towards the West Shoulder of Everest. That made sense. After all, he planned to climb on his Everest-Lhotse traverse via the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir to the highest. But Nuptse? Not exactly the classic tour to get acclimatized. What was the added value besides making additional height meters?

Reinhold Messner speculated in several interviews that Ueli might have planned to try the “great horseshoe”, the never-attempted round trip form Nuptse to Lhotse and Everest across the ridges between the mountains. I see no evidence for this after all I have heard and read. The Frenchman Yannick Graziani wrote in his blog that Ueli had asked him three days before his death, if he wanted to accompany him on Nuptse. The 43-year-old, who wants to climb Everest without bottled oxygen this spring, declined. It was really just an acclimatization trip, Yannick’s team told me on request: “Ueli never said or wrote about Nuptse or horseshoe. He was waiting for his Sherpa friend Tenji to recover from frostbite and reach together the West Shoulder.”

On Monday, I had written to some top climbers asking how they had experienced Ueli. Two other answers reached me.

Date

3. May 2017 | 13:06

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On the death of Ueli Steck: One of the best, but not a reckless gambler

Ueli Steck (1976-2017)

Ueli Steck is dead. Fallen to death somewhere on Everest. Incredible. I can not believe it. What has happened? The exact circumstances are not yet clear. The body of the 40-year-old was found somewhere between Camp 1 (at 6,100 m) and 2 (6,400 m). Steck climbed solo on Nuptse, slipped and fell about 1,000 meters deep, reports the Kathmandu-based newspaper “The Himalayan Times”. In the past week, Ueli had reported via Facebook on a “quick day” climbing from Base Camp up to 7,000 meters and back again. The attached photo showed him with trailrunning shoes. Typical Ueli, I twittered with a twinkle in my eye – and the thought: Only one like him gets away with this, “The Swiss Machine”, the “Speedy Gonzales” among the high-altitude climbers, undisputedly one of the best.

Date

30. April 2017 | 17:02

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Two fast men on Everest: Jornet and Steck

Kilian Jornet (r.) and Emelie Forsberg (l.) in Kathmandu

“I feel really acclimatized and strong in altitude,” said Kilian Jornet – already before he set off towards the Himalayas last weekend. As a training for his eight-thousander expedition, the speed specialist had climbed along with his Swedish girl friend Emelie Forsberg in Norway, and the day before their departure both had started at the Trofeo Mezzalama in Italy, one of the classic races for ski mountaineers in . Kilian had won second place in a team with the Swiss Martin Anthamatten and Werner Marti, Emelie had won the women’s competition along with the Swiss Jennifer Fiechter and the French Laetitia Roux. Jornet and Forsberg traveled via the Nepalese capital Kathmandu to Tibet. Within the next two weeks, they want to climb Cho Oyu, with an altitude of 8,188 meters the sixth highest mountain on earth. “If everything goes well, we could be on the summit on 7 or May,” said Emelie, for whom it is the first experience on an eight-thousander. And Kilian adds: “For me, it will be good preparation for Everest because I’ll be better acclimatized when I get there.”

Date

25. April 2017 | 19:03

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Shishapangma South Face, take two!

Shishapangma South Face

This wall has enthused him. The second spring in a row, the German professional climber David Goettler will try to open a new route through the South Face of the 8027-meter-high Shishapangma in Tibet. After his failed attempt in 2016 with the Swiss Ueli Steck, the 38-year-old is now on the road with Hervé Barmasse. The 39-year-old Italian is a very experienced climber who has made headlines in recent years, especially with new routes on his home mountain, the Matterhorn. Hervé has also succeeded spectacular first ascents in the Karakoram and in Patagonia. Barmasse has not yet scaled an eight-thousander. I got a hold of Goettler on the phone, just before his departure to the Himalayas, on the way to the airport.

David, you’re just on your way to Nepal. What is your feeling?

Date

5. April 2017 | 16:07

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Steck before Everest expedition: “Rather late than early”

Ueli Steck

He looks forward, not back. “I will never forget what happened on Everest in 2013,” the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck tells me. “But I believe I will have absolutely no problem with it. It’s over. I’m very motivated and I’ll go with a very good feeling.” In spring 2013, a Sherpa mob had attacked Steck, the Italian Simone Moro and the Briton Jonathan Griffith and had threatened them with death. This spring, Ueli will return to the highest mountain on earth. His goal: the traverse of Mount Everest and Lhotse. The 40-year-old will climb with Tenji Sherpa, with whom he had already scaled Everest without bottled oxygen in 2012. The 24-year-old belongs to “a new generation of Sherpas, who really enjoy climbing and are not only interested in doing business,” says Ueli. “I’m really looking forward to being en route with him.”

As reported, Steck had completed an intensive training camp with the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse in the Khumbu area in February. Subsequently, Ueli returned to Switzerland for a few weeks. He will set off to Kathmandu on 8 April.

Ueli, during the training Camp in Nepal in February you ran and climbed a total of about 250 kilometers with 15,000 meters in elevation. How much has been added since then?

Date

21. March 2017 | 15:18

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Special expedition training

Barmasse, Steck, Tenji Sherpa and Goettler (from l. to r.)

What a high-caliber training group! The Swiss Ueli Steck, the Nepalese Tenji Sherpa, the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse have been preparing themselves for their expeditions in spring in the village of Chukhung in the Everest region for ten days. Steck and Tenji Sherpa plan to traverse Mount Everest and Lhotse. No one has yet managed to do this without bottled oxygen. Goettler and Barmasse want to open a new route via the Shishapangma South Face in Tibet. In the course of the training, mountain running was at the focus. “I ran three times from Chukhung (4,730 meters) to Island Peak (6,180 meters),” writes Ueli. He had climbed and run a total of about 12,000 vertical meters over a distance of around 150 kilometers. “My body and my soul feel great,” says Steck. “I really enjoy being here in Nepal with such good friends. Just climb and run and nothing else.”

Date

21. February 2017 | 14:29

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Good against winter depression

Weihnachts_EverestThese days I received a funny Christmas card of an expedition organizer. It showed a Santa Claus on Mount Everest, with his finger in front of his mouth: “Pst … definitely too high for my reindeer.” This reminded me that I wanted to wish my old friend Chomolungma Merry Christmas. For years, he can be reached by mobile phone. At the first ring, he takes the call.

Namaste, Chomo! This is Stefan.

Hej, I haven’t heard from you for a long time.

Sorry for that. I wanted to check on your condition.

Sunshine, minus 26 degrees Celsius, 65 km/h at the summit, good visibility.

Sounds like calm winter weather.

I like it.

Have you heard that you’ll be visited?

Date

23. December 2016 | 19:55

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Steck: “I will distance myself on Everest”

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck

The experience on Mount Everest in spring 2013 has changed Ueli Steck. “The moment when I realized that the Sherpas wanted to kill me, a world came crashing in,” the 40-year-old Swiss top climber wrote in his new book “The Next Step”. “After that, my look at the world was a different one. I withdrew because I did not trust anyone anymore.” In spring 2017, Ueli will return to Everest – to try to traverse the highest mountain on earth and the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse. I talked to Steck about Everest.

Ueli, what does Mount Everest mean for you personally?

Everest is the highest mountain in the world. If high altitude climbing is your thing, it is, with an altitude of 8,848 meters, a dimension of its own and therefore the most interesting and exciting mountain.

Date

20. December 2016 | 18:06

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Ueli Steck: “If you go too far, you are dead”

Ueli Steck at the IMS in Bressanone

Ueli Steck at the IMS in Bressanone

If “The Fast and the Furious” had been a film about climbers, Ueli Steck could have played the leading role. The Swiss is just extremely fast. The Eiger North Face in two hours and 22 minutes, the 82 four-thousanders of the Alps within 61 days, solo via the Annapurna South Face to the 8091-meter-high summit and back in 28 hours, through Shishapangma South Face within ten and a half hours – for good reason Ueli is nicknamed “The Swiss Machine”. As if he had a tuned engine inside like the cars in “The Fast and the Furious”. Just recently, Steck has returned from India. I met him at the International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Bressanone in South Tyrol and talked to him about his tendency to speed, about aging and his next plans.

Ueli, you just turned 40 years old and you were not at home. How did you spend your birthday?

Date

15. October 2016 | 1:55

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Shishapangma, the last take!

Shishapangma

Shishapangma

A chewing gum is not getting better by chewing it endlessly. There must come a time to spit it out. Stories are a similar ballgame. At a certain moment everything has been devoured a 1000 times. Then you should have the courage to draw a line under it before it becomes a never ending story, which is still only annoying. This will be my last blog post on the avalanche on Shishapangma which happened on next Saturday, exactly two years ago. Maybe not yet everything is said, but in my view it’s enough to close the chapter – and hopefully learn from it.

Date

22. September 2016 | 15:41

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Steck: “Basically I believe he can make it”

Kilian Jornet (l.) and Ueli Steck (r.) on the Eiger

Kilian Jornet (l.) and Ueli Steck (r.) on the Eiger

Ambitious or overwinded? The climbers’ scene is discussing the upcoming Everest project of the Spaniard Kilian Jornet. As reported before, the 28-year-old Catalan will set off to Tibet next Sunday to climb or rather run up the highest mountain on earth, within his project “Summits of my life”. The plan sounds crazy: if possible in a single push from Rongbuk Monastery to the 8850-meter-high summit; without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support; if the conditions on the mountain are right, on a seldom climbed route (Norton or Hornbein Couloir); and as if all that were not enough, in the monsoon. Of course, this evokes memories of Reinhold Messner’s legendary Everest solo in 1980. But Jornet will not be climbing alone. And he is a completely different type of climber than the South Tyrolean was at that time.

Date

3. August 2016 | 18:46

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Controversy over avalanche on Shishapangma

Advanced Base Camp on Shishapangma

Advanced Base Camp on Shishapangma

24 September 2014, 6.55 a.m.: Five men are climbing at 7,900 meters towards the summit of the eight-thousander Shishapangma when the avalanche releases. The Germans Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier and Italian Andrea Zambaldi are swept several hundred meters down the slope. German Benedikt Boehm and Swiss Ueli Steck have a lucky escape and get away from the snow masses. The 36-year-old Haag and the 32-year-old Zambaldi die. Maier miraculously survives and is able to escape by his own strength to the high camp. The news of the incident first appears in my blog. The first interviews about the avalanche with Bene Boehm and Martin Maier can also be read on “Adventure Sports”.

“Time does not heal everything”

More than one and a half year later, Martin has opened up a debate on the incident by giving an interview to the German magazine “Bergsteiger”. The 41-year-old industrial engineer is in his own words still suffering from long-term effects which are not only health problems: “Time does not heal everything – neither injuries that have remained to this day nor the sadness and bitterness about the fact that people want to increase their self-esteem at the expense of others.” Maier accuses the other two survivors of the avalanche, Boehm and Steck, of not having told the truth and of having abandoned him too quickly.

Date

12. July 2016 | 21:25

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