Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ueli Steck Died

Here is the story from Alan Arnette, the best Everest season coverage.

Ueli was in Pakistan in 2009, as I was. He drove up the Karakorum, because we saw his name on log books as we drove up it. In 2016 late May, I believe he stayed at the Yak and Yeti when I was, ate breakfast just 25 feet away from me, alone. I never walked up to him because I was partly starstruck, didn't want to be that fan guy, and third, wasn't 100% sure it was him. Everyone at these mountain climbing things look about the same, fit, a little disheveled, wearing plaid name brand button up shirts, white, male, and mid 30s. Believe me, I wish there were more women in the sport.

After the fact I learned we had a mutual friend, so I sent our friend an email telling Ueli (although I misspelled it Uli) I would love to climb something with him. She forwarded it to him, unsurprisingly, I never heard back. The pool of people in the world who want to go fast on 8000 meter peaks without oxygen is small.

He was the best. The Swiss Machine as people called him. And now he is dead. He died the #1 most common way to die in the mountains, falling while climbing unroped. Everyone does it to some extent, and it's as risky as risk comes. Every year there is some famous or semi famous climber that dies while soloing, and despite what the best climbers say (including myself, definitely not a great climber, but not exactly an average one either) about soloing, it's dangerous!

I'll leave you with this video below of a speed record he set on a famous face, the north face of the Eiger. My thought is that he probably slipped and fell on something like the steep, but not really steep, section shown near the end of the video. Maybe a rock hit him. Maybe the snow was soft. Maybe there was some verglas.

He is survived by his wife. He had no kids, was 10 years older than me, and was a professional. Events like this make it easier to focus on running instead of climbing mountains.

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