Everest 2017: Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse – Updated

Horribly tragic news is coming in that Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, 40, has died on Nuptse near Camp 1 Camp 2 off the Western Cwm. I have received 100% confirmation from multiple sources at Everest. I am told his wife has been notified.

His body was recovered and is now in transport to Kathmandu. Durga Dutta Dhakal DoT Director confirmed the incident and saying his body was now at Lukla

This original post was about 1:30 pm Nepal time. Today, 1 May,  I have updated it with the most recent information.

Update: A spokesperson for Ueli’s family posted on 30 April late in the day this official notice on his website:

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.

As soon as there are reliable findings on the causes of Ueli Steck’s death, the media will be informed. The family asks the media for understanding that they will not provide any further information at the time.

The Himalayan Times posted the news as well.

I was first contacted by Larry Daugherty climbing with Adventure Ascents about noon, Everest time on 30 April:

Body found at the base of West Nuptse, climber apparently fell alone and unprotected. Initially it was suspected to be Ueli based on clothing and apparently his acclimatization plan..then they confirmed with my team 10 minutes later it was in fact him.

He was reported climbing alone. The details may never be known but often early report have some details incorrect. Two French climbers were also reported in the general area. Climbers at Camp 1 have reported they saw a person falling off Nuptse.

Update: It has been reported that Ueli fell 3,280 feet. Summit Climb made this post on 30 April:

Our team is ok, but just now we saw a climber falling down Nuptse wall. Oh My God Please Help Them!

Update: The UK Gurka team made this post, 1 May about finding Ueli:

As the Gurkha Everest Expedition team were approximately 45 minutes into their descent from Camp 2 on Everest yesterday morning, 30 April 2017, members of the team discovered the body of Ueli Steck in the Western Cwm.

“Our sincere condolences to Ueli Steck’s family and friends, following yesterday’s tragic events,” said deputy expedition leader Major Andrew Todd, this morning. “Our team, who conducted his recovery and heli-extraction from the Western Cwm, are now back at Base Camp.

“Ueli remains a huge inspiration to our team. As we push on, we will never forget yesterday or Ueli’s phenomenal climbing legacy.”

Expedition chairman Brigadier Ian Rigden said: “The Gurkha Everest team is very sad to report the death of the legendary Swiss climber Ueli Steck on Mt Everest. His body was discovered by our team and they organised the repatriation off the mountain. Our thoughts are very much with his wife, Nicole, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to her and their families.”

Ueli had been acclimatizing for an Everest Lhotse traverse. He had already climbed to Camp 2 and then soloed up to the West Ridge. He preferred to take day climbs from EBC to 7000 meter instead of spending nights at altitude to acclimatize. It can be safely assumed he was doing another acclimatizing run but this time on Nuptse.

Ueli Steck in Western Cwm courtsey of Ueli Steck
Ueli Steck in Western Cwm courtsey of Ueli Steck

Update: He had recently posted this on Facebook:

Quick Day from Basecamp up to 7000m and back. I love it its such a great place here. I still believe in active aclimatisation. This is way more effective then spending Nights up in the Altitude!

Update: Jim Davidson, attempting Everest was at Camp 2 and saw Ueli heading towards the West Ridge on a reconnaissance climb:

 With heavy sadness, we say goodbye to one of the greatest climbers of our time, Ueli Steck. Ueli died today while solo climbing on Nuptse, just above Camp 1 on Everest. Like many, I looked up to Ueli as an incredible climber. I saw/met him briefly a few times, and he was a cordial and kind man. Last week we watched him solo at 22,000 feet up above Camp 2 on his way toward the difficult West Ridge of Everest. With only my GoPro handy, I took this wide photo of him climbing up. Ueli is circled in red. We watched him ascend for an hour until the clouds closed in. My condolences to his family, friends and many fans. I will always remember seeing Ueli climb up, up, up and into the clouds.

Ueli Steck climbing towards West Ridge. courtesy of Jim Davidson
Ueli Steck climbing towards West Ridge. courtesy of Jim Davidson

In 2013 Russian alpinist Alexey Bolotov died  while acclimatizing in the same general area. on Nuptse. His climbing partner Denis Urubko said Bolotov was rappelling when his rope was cut by sharp rocks and fell 300 meters down a rock filled ravine.

This is a photo I took in 2008 of the general Camp 1 area with Nuptse on the right. This rock face is similar to the general area where the incident is assumed to have occurred based on eyewitness reports:

Nuptse North Face above Camp 1 in 2008. copyright www.alanarnette.com
Nuptse North Face above Camp 1 in 2008. copyright www.alanarnette.com


Helicopter returning Ueli Steck to Everest Base Camp 30 April 2017. courtesy of Larry Daugherty


Ueli Steck Everest Lhotse Traverse 2017
Ueli Steck Everest Lhotse Traverse 2017

My deep condolences to all of Ueli’s family, friends and admirers around the world. This is a truly tragic day in mountaineering.

Update: And finally, I found some words to express my feelings:

Today the heart of our climbing community has been taken.

I met Ueli a few times and always enjoyed his talks. His humble style, matter of fact delivery on feats that in some case only he had achieved and no one ever repeated, captivated my spirit and feed my imagination.

Ueli never sought publicity, or blogged while climbing, keeping his focus on the task at hand. Only after his achievement did he reveal the details, and the challenge.

Thank you Ueli for showing us what could be done, to live bravely and give back unselfishly with your generous spirit. You will be missed.

UPDATE 3 May 2017: 

New information is coming out that contradicts the original reports. Now it seems that Ueli was climbing Nuptse across from Camp 2, not Camp 1 as originally reported. This makes better sense since the route to Nuptse’s summit is directly across from Camp 2, not Camp 1. But as to why he fell remains a mystery.

This report from Swiss Info:

Memories are Everything

Video of Ueli Steck setting Eiger North Face speed record of 2:22:15 in 2015.

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29 thoughts on “Everest 2017: Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse – Updated

  1. Rip Swiss Machine 🙁

    sono triste e ancora incredulo… Ueli sarà per sempre nel mio cuore.

  2. As a tribute, you might want to see an extract of an amazing interview where he was truly opening his soul.
    It was made after his Annapurna climbing that was part of a movie “one walk only once on the moon” – he talks sincerely about his feelings, the risks, the lessons learned, his future etc. and the depressed state he was experimenting after “ths absolute achievement” like others experiences after walking on the moon.


    Such a great man. RIP.

  3. Très triste de la disparition d’Ueli, un si grand Alpiniste…
    En montagne, comme ailleurs, l’homme surhumain ne peut à la fois se réaliser et rester parmi nous.

    Steve Poliakovic

  4. Horrified, I was also reading up on his progress and enjoying his and your posts. I am stunned, and very very sad.

  5. Je suis très triste d’apprendre la malheureuse nouvelle de la mort ueli steck. Je suis toujours ébloui par ceux qui concrétisent leurs rêves… Maintenant je serai ébloui en regardant vers le ciel …

  6. There were videos all over youtube within a remarkably short time of this happening. I am so sad and it is a reminder that nobody is indestructible.

  7. Sad situation – darn. Was looking forward to his progress.

    What is the first picture in this post – the one with the helicopter? What is that?

  8. John Gluckman

    This is extremely tragic and unexpected news . Ueli was a phenomenal mountaineer and a magnificent athlete. Mountaineering has lost a legend’s legend.My deepest sympathies to his family . Rest in peace

  9. Humanity would still be living in caves if not for those willing to ‘push far past safety’. Risk is essential for our advancement and the fact that boundary pushers like Ueli know and accept the risk doesn’t make his loss any less tragic.

  10. tragic news…veteran climber…may the great spirit enjoy his company in heaven…feeling sad today…..

  11. first my condolences to all in the climbing community and to his family. I watched his video outlining his journey that he was going to take twice before today. I understood that this route was not used in many years and he was going to try and do the same. I felt he was a genuine climber that he loved to do it solo and not fixed lines like it is now. I was quite saddened today to hear this news. He was a adventurer at heart and did what he loved to do. Not many can say that but i saw his spirit even when he explained his expedition. Rest in peace.

  12. Uelis loss is a a big loss to the world for this gifted man ,climber and superior athlete who loved the challenges of climbing all mountains . My deepest sympathy to his family. His loss is a loss to all of us that love the mountains and the challenges he loved . His self confidence and ability was superb.

  13. devastating news – so sad. Himalayan Times stated this was the 1st death of the season, but actually it’s the second one. I see wikipedia is already updated.

    1. Hi Alan, thanks for the education on trekker vs climber, and the Himalayan Database reference. And yes we agree, all deaths are tragic, and I now understand how the facts are being recorded.

  14. This is so tragically sad and will take a long time to sink in. Of all the superstars in the mountains, the Swiss Machine truly seemed invincible. RIP.

  15. He was the most charming man. Three of us met him on the Frendo Spur above Chamonix – we were out for an epic and he was out for a pre-lunch saunter. He caught us up and very politely asked if he could overtake us. He offered to take our photograph, (we insisted he was in it) and he shared out chocolate, chatted and departed. Not what I expected at all – real humility and interest in how we were getting on. Watching him “nip”, up the impossible crack system above us, was an education, and is such a wonderful memory. .

    RIP Ueli.

  16. he was a living legend, some of his feats may never be repeated esp his one day climb of annapurna, RIP

  17. he was a living legend, some of his feats may never be repeated esp his one day climb of annapurna, RIP

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