It takes a lot of guts to climb the world’s toughest mountains. Thousands have tried. Some have been successful while some have failed.
But what’s tougher than climbing mountains is being so good at it that you’re called one of the best mountain climbers in the world.
Mountain climbing is not a joke. It takes a lot of practice and hard to conquer even the smallest of the snowy hill.
And it certainly meant serious business to mountaineer and rock climber Ueli Steck.
Born on October 4, 1976, in Langnau im Emmental, Switzerland, Ueli Steck was a rock climber and a mountaineer.
Ueli started his rock climbing journey very early; at the age of 17.
He had already achieved the 9th difficulty rating (UIAA) in climbing by then.
Known for his climbing speed, Steck conquered three peaks within 25 hours on June 2004.
He along with Stephan Siegrist climbed the Elger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
He earned the title of one of the three best alpinists in Europe after the successful “Khumbu-Express Expedition” in 2005 by the climbing magazine Climb.
Ueli set his first-ever climbing record in the year 2007. In just 3 hours and 54 minutes, Steck was able to conquer the North Face of the Elger.
He broke his own record a year later after he climbed it in just 2 hours 47 minutes and 33 seconds.
Steck was a fierce mountaineer known for taking risks and speed.
And for his very work, he’s been awarded the Piolet d’Or (Golden Ice Axe), mountaineering’s most prestigious award twice.
First was for his new route up Teng Kang Poche (Nepal) in 2009. And the second was for his groundbreaking solo climb up Annapurna’s South Face (Nepal) in 2014.
He was yet again able to impress everyone after the successful solo ascent of the Lafaille route on the South Face of Annapurna on October 2013.
This was his third attempt which experts believe to be “one of the most impressive Himalayan climbs in history.”
In 2015, Steck almost made another world record when he conquered all 82 summits in the Alps higher than 4000 meters.
He completed the climb in 62 days without the use of motorized travel.
The record was 60 days, but Ueli had to postpone his climb after his partner Martijn Seuren had fallen to death.
Ueli Steck along with his mountain climbing fame also garnered some controversies in his career spanning more than two decades.
In 2013, it became an international headline as Steck along with two other mountaineers involved in an incident with some Sherpas.
Steck with Simore Moro and Jonathan Griffith got into a violent confrontation with the Sherpas who were fixing the ropes for commercial expeditions on the Lhotse face.
Another controversy included one of his Piolet d’Or award as people question does he really deserve it.
He has two of the most prestigious mountaineering awards. One for the Teng Kang Poche rout and another for the Annapurna’s South Face.
However, the controversy strikes as most people believe that Steck didn’t successfully ascent Annapurna’s South Face.
Since he lacked photographic evidence as he claimed to lost his camera and failed to turn on the GPS watch, his claims were often doubted.
But he was still able to receive the award after two Sherpas recall seeing a solitary headlamp on the hardest section of the South Face.
He previously failed his attempt to conquer the summit twice.
He also had a near-death experience after being struck by rockfall and feel 1,000 ft. into the glacier in 2007.
Death of a Legend.
Ueli Steck was a true legend when it comes to mountaineering and rock climbing.
His daredevil acts often put him into a lot of risks and pushed the danger limits.
And since he mostly preferred climbing solo that too with as less equipment as possible, the risk was even higher.
Thus, on April 30, 2017, Ueli Steck, at the age of 40, lost his life doing what he loved the most.
He was attempting to climb the Hornbein route on the West Ridge of Everest.
Since he was climbing solo during his death, the exact cause and circumstances of his death is still a mystery.
His body was found 3,000 ft. Below the Nuptse peak. He wasn’t wearing any harness, helmet, gloves, trekking poles, or supplemental oxygen.
Ueli Steck was a very private person despite gaining a lot of fame internationally.
His father was a coppersmith and who would take him on ski tours every once in a while.
As a kid, he loved playing hockey and also trained as a carpenter.
He was married to Nicole Steck and never had any children.
Ueli’s autobiography “Ueli Steck: My Life in Climbing” was published after his death.
The book gave an insight into how Ueli lived his life.
It revealed all the hardships he went through while climbing different peaks.