The world’s most famous climber has died in the Everest region of Nepal while preparing to climb the highest peak on the planet without the aid of oxygen.
Ueli Steck, 40, fell 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) to the foot of Mount Nuptse, a smaller peak in the Everest region, while acclimatizing ahead of his bid to traverse a new Everest route.
Everest and Nuptse share a common ridge and it was there where, according to a government official, Steck apparently slipped and fell.
“He skidded off about 1,000 meters from (Mt Nuptse) camp two early morning on Sunday. Other climbers ascending Everest saw him and asked for his rescue,”said Dinesh Bhattarai, director general at the Department of Tourism.
Nicknamed the “Swiss Machine,” Steck reached Everest’s summit without oxygen in 2012 and climbed all 82 Alpine peaks in 62 days in 2015. He came to prominence within the climbing community, aged 18, after climbing Mont Blanc’s Eiger massif.
That climb attracted the attention of sponsors and he soon became one of the most recognisable names in mountaineering.
He was known for scaling some of the planet’s most dangerous peaks, often alone and without basic safety equipment such as fixed ropes or oxygen tanks.
Steck is not without controversy, however. The climber made headlines in 2013 when he and two others became involved in a punch up with a group of Nepali sherpa guides in a row over fixing ropes.
The fracas forced the climbers off the mountain, leading Steck to swear he would never return. He kept his promise until this latest, and sadly last, attempt.
In 2016, Steck and a fellow climber, discovered the bodies of two American mountaineers in Tibet.
Alex Lowe and David Bridges had been missing since 1999 when they were swept away by an avalanche during an attempt to scale Shishapangma, the fourteenth highest peak on Earth.
Tributes to the Swiss Machine have been pouring in from climbers.
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