Ueli Steck, the pioneering mountaineer and paraglider pilot, has died in a climbing accident in the Everest region of Nepal.
Steck, 40, died after falling while climbing on Nuptse (7,861m), according to reports. He was in the area acclimatising ahead of a bid to complete a traverse of Lhotse (8,516m) and Everest (8,848m).
Kamal Prasad Parajuli, an official with Nepal’s Department of Tourism, confirmed Steck died while climbing Nuptse. He said Steck, “slipped and fell 1,000 metres” in the Western Cwm along the normal route to Everest.
The accident took place near Camp Two, which is at an altitude of 6,400m, Parajuli said.
Steck was a world-renowned climber who was known for his speed ascents of classic routes and faces in the Alps. He had also climbed Everest without oxygen in 2012.
In 2015 he climbed all 82 4,000m peaks in the European Alps in 62 days.
As well as climbing, Steck had embraced lightweight paragliding to help him move around the mountains more quickly.
In August 2012 he climbed three 4,000m Alpine peaks – the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger – in just 12 hours, using a paraglider to fly from the summits to the base of the next climb.
Later he explained to Cross Country’s Andy Pag that flying was “the best part of it”.
“[That day] I didn’t start out with a mission. I just thought I’d go climbing for the day,” he said.
“Each time I reached a summit the weather was perfect. Northeast wind and not too strong. There’s maybe one day a year when it’s possible to do this. The flying was the best part of it, because for me that’s something new.”
Steck started by climbing the Jungfrau at 3am via the Rotal Ridge. Taking off from just below the summit he flew to the base of the Mönch North Face.
He then soloed the Lauper Route to the summit before flying to the Eismeer Glacier on the south side of the Eiger.
After hiking to the Mittelegi Hut for lunch and a climb up the Mittelegi Ridge, Steck was on top of the Eiger at 3.13pm. Steck then descended from the summit to the Geneva Spur, from where he flew down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. He back to his car by 5pm.
He flew a 19m Ozone Ultralight 3 paired with a Sup’Air Everest harness, a package which weighed less than 3kg.
Steck added that he would “really like to fly in the Himalaya” but that he was still a relatively inexperienced pilot.
Steck’s body was recovered from the mountain and was being taken back to Kathmandu, Reuters reported.
Never miss an issue
Our subscribers receive 10 issues a year, the annual Travel Guide and exclusive access to competitions and offersSubscribe today