Famed mountaineer Ueli Steck dies while climbing near Everest

On Sunday, per a report by the New York Times, famed mountaineer Ueli Steck — nicknamed the “Swiss Machine” — died in a climbing accident at a camp near Mount Everest. He was 40.

A guide working for the Seven Summit Treks company told the Associated Press that Steck died near Camp 1 of Mount Nuptse in Nepal. Steck was attempting to climb the 25,791-foot Himalayan peak to acclimate for an ambitious upcoming ascent of Mount Everest, according to the Times.

Maurizio Folini, a helicopter pilot who transported Steck's body to Kathmandu, told the New York Times that Steck had fallen more than 3,280 feet down the mountain on Sunday.

Steck had been climbing alone at the time of his fall because his climbing parter, Tenji Sherpa, had a frostbitten hand, per the Times. In a phone interview with the Times, Sherpa told the newspaper that the passing of Steck “is a big loss to mountaineering worldwide” and said he was “shocked by his death.”

A statement posted to Steck’s personal website on Sunday said that the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown:

Ueli Steck was killed while trying to climb Mount Everest and the Lhotse. His family has learned of his death today. The exact circumstances are currently unknown. The family is infinitely sad and asks the media builders to refrain from speculation about the circumstances of his death due to respect for Ueli.

The 40-year-old Steck leaves behind an enduring legacy as one of the most renowned and record-setting climbers of his generation.

A proponent of the “fast and light” climbing technique, Steck made his name in the mountaineering world for his speed-climbing. Of his many records, Steck was known for setting the speed record on the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland, climbing the famed 5,500-foot face in 2 hours and 22 minutes in 2015.

His willingness to push his limits saw Steck complete the first unassisted solo climb of the south face of Annapurna in Nepal in 2013 after almost dying on the route in 2007. Steck was given the Piolet d’Or for that summit, the most prestigious award in the mountaineering community.

He followed that up with a project in 2015 that saw him climb all 82 peaks in the European Alps above 4,000 meters in 62 days. For the project, he limited his travel up and between all the mountains to hiking, biking and paragliding so that his effort was completely man-powered.

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