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Steck: “It was eerie”

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck has done his share to lift the fog that formed around the avalanche on the eight-thousander Shishapangma one and a half week ago. Benedikt Boehm and he were a little bit higher on the slope, when suddenly a snow slab released and swept down the three climbers below us, Sebastian Haag, Andrea Zambaldi and Martin Maier, said Ueli in Kathmandu in an interview with the Swiss newspaper “Sonntagszeitung”. The snow slab released almost silently. It was eerie. Maier was able to dig himself out. He had no serious injuries, was able to descent and meet the rescue team. He is in Germany now.

All attempts to enter the avalanche area and search for the buried climbers Haag and Zambaldi were unsuccessful. It was too risky. We would have caused new avalanches, Steck said. “Finally, we had to descend. In desperation you must not make mistakes that can jeopardize other people.

No hara-kiri action

Therefore it did not make sense to try to recover the two bodies from an altitude of 7500 meters, said Ueli, who turned 38 yesterday. The risk for the search team would be too great. Unfortunately. Ueli was also asked if he thought that he had a partial responsibility for the death of Basti Haag and Andrea Zambaldi. “Each of the five climbers could decide whether he took part or not. Nobody is responsible for the other, Steck answered. We all were there, because we wanted to be there. It could as well have been me who was swept away by the avalanche.

Ueli came to defence of Boehm and Haag who had the idea for the project “Double8” – to climb and ski down the eight-thousanders Shishapangma and Cho Oyu and to cycle from one base camp to the other: For sure it was no hara-kiri action. There were no extremely dangerous walls they wanted to climb. I call it an attractive, inspiring project. Even though it had a tragic end.

On his homepage, Benedikt Boehm expresses his condolences to Basti Haag’s family – and remembers the minutes before the accident: Just before an avalanche snatched Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi from life, the summit of Shishapangma glistened in the rising morning sun. A moment of happiness. One of the many Basti and I experienced together.



5. October 2014 | 22:12