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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Siegrist: “Only the most difficult was good enough for Ueli”

R.I.P., Ueli!

The mountaineering scene is still paralyzed. No one can really understand that Ueli Steck is no longer among us. The 40-year-old Swiss had fallen to death in the immediate vicinity of Mount Everest yesterday. His corpse had been found at the foot of Nuptse West and had been flown to Kathmandu. His wife, his parents and other relatives are expected in the Nepalese capital. According to the newspaper “Himalayan Times”, Ueli is to be buried in Nepal. Why Steck fell, will probably never be resolved. After all, he was solo climbing again to prepare himself for the planned Everest-Lhotse traverse. His team partner, Tenjing Sherpa, had suffered frostbite and had not been able to accompany Ueli.

Ueli Steck

“More than once lucky”

“The same passion and countless shared experiences combined us,” Stephan Siegrist writes to me. The 44-year-old Swiss has been living in the same village as Steck, in Ringgenberg on Lake Brienz. Especially when they had been younger, both had been en route as a team. “We spent together many days and months at home and abroad, freezing through some bivouac nights. We succeeded several first ascents. And more than once we were lucky not to fall.”

Inspiring exceptional sportsman

Stephan Siegrist

Ueli and he spent “many funny hours during climbing as well as private”, recalls Stephan. “Such experiences and roped parties united us – even though our ways in sport have been moving into different directions over the years. We didn’t always agree, also in terms of alpinism.” Nevertheless, he admired Ueli for his “uncompromising pursuit of a project, his ambition and staying power”, says Siegrist. “Only the most difficult challenges were good enough for him – until the end. This made up his personality as a climber. He was an inspiring exceptional sportsman.”

Goettler: “He was 100 percent reliable”

Ueli Steck (r.) and David Goettler (in 2016)

The German climber David Goettler would sign this statement too. “I am so happy to have been en route with Ueli again and again during the last two years, and have learned from his way,” the 38-year-old writes to me from the Base Camp at the foot of Shishapangma South Face, where he and the 39-year-old Italian Hervé Barmasse want to open a new route. In spring 2016, David and Ueli Steck had failed with this project due to bad weather. Last February, Goettler, Barmasse and Steck had prepared for their respective expedition with a shared intensive training camp in the Khumbu area. “I’ve lost a friend and rope partner who was always 100 percent reliable and with whom I still wanted to share many common dreams. Thank you Ueli, for this short piece of common path!”

The price of adventure

For Oswald Oelz, an old companion of Reinhold Messner, Ueli Steck is another friend whom he lost on the mountains. “Sometimes it also happens to the very best,” the 74-year-old native Austrian, who lives in Switzerland, said to the Swiss broadcast station SRF. “This is the price of real adventure. Deadly failure is always included.”


1. May 2017 | 17:28