Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse at Age 40

Ueli Steck, one of the most revered mountaineers of his time, died on 30 April 2017 while on a Himalayan expedition on Mount Nuptse. He was 40 years old. Steck leaves behind a loving wife, Nicole Steck.

Ueli Steck on 2015 Eiger Record

Credit: SamCam

Details of Ueli Steck’s Death

Ueli Steck’s life ended as the first casualty of the 2017 Everest Season. His last visit to the mountain in 2013 resulted in him fleeing from a volatile Sherpa brawl, leaving him questioning whether he’d return.

Eventually, he did, and this season he sought out to traverse a route only once completed before, a connection between Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest. It’s a route so challenging, Steck himself referred to his expectations as only having failed in the attempt if he died and didn’t return home, not if he succeeded.

Steck died near the base of Nuptse at Camp 1 after falling 3,280 ft. (1000 m.). He had climbed the sister mountain of Everest to acclimate himself to the altitude before traversing Everest and Lhotse in May along with the rest of the mountaineering teams who make their summit assaults around 10, May.

On this day, Steck had been climbing alone in the absence of his Sherpa, who was medically incapacitated at Everest Base Camp due to a frostbitten hand. His climb was named “Ueli Steck’s Everest-Lhotse Project,” and this video would be one of his last.

Unlike many unfortunate souls, however, Steck’s body was successfully recovered and flown to Lukla Airport via helicopter from where it was transported to Maharajgunj-Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu to await an autopsy.

On 04 May 2017, Ueli Steck was given a ceremonious burial service in Khumjung, Nepal. The mountaineer was cremated, and in attendance were only close family and friends, who mourned his death for over three hours. The ceremony took place in Tengboche Monastery in true Nepalese tradition.

About Ueli Steck

Ueli Steck was known as the Swiss Machine, smashing through world records like butter and leaving behind a lasting legend. He takes his place now among the other revered mountaineering legends who died while climbing and whom he came to respect.

In an eerie twist of the universe’s fate, on one of his last climbs in 2016, Steck and his partner, David Göttler, discovered the bodies of legendary climber Alex Lowe and David Bridges. Lowe, like Steck, was considered the greatest mountaineer of his day. Both were 40 when they died.

Steck happened to be born at the right time to reach an age of mountaineering expertise while the era of the internet was bursting with life. As a result, many of his epic climbs were caught on film and shared with fans everywhere. One notable climb being his speed record climb of the North Face of the Eiger on 16 November 2015, which he completed in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 50 seconds (SamCamTV).

Others include his 2008 speed climb of the North Face of the Eiger, which he completed in 2 hours and 47 minutes. It was this record that he lost to Swiss mountaineer Dani Arnold in 2011, which he sought out to regain and succeeded in his 2015 attempt. In 2008, he climbed Grandes Jorasses in just 2 hours and 21 minutes.

In 2013 Ueli Steck ventured to the Himalayas to take on Everest via the West Route. There, he recounted to Outside TV, he was met with a near-death experience. He and his partners were involved in a horrifying Sherpa brawl that threatened their lives.

According to Steck, the Sherpas, almost 100 of them, threatened to kill them if they did not leave the mountain. This came after Steck and his team felt it unnecessary to stay below while the Sherpas set up fixed lines along the route since they would not be using the lines. The Sherpa’s requests to not get in the way were ignored, prompting a massive rebellion against them.

He stated “the Sherpas were really pissed off,” and according to the team, their faces were covered, which led Ueli to believe they were out for blood. Rocks were thrown at the team. They were kicked and almost beaten to death before mountain guide Melissa Arnot stepped in to literally diffuse the situation and save their lives. The team and the Sherpas later signed a peace treaty on the mountain. However, this experience left Ueli unsure as to whether he’d return to Everest anytime soon. Eventually, he did in 2017, where he died.

Through his mountaineering career, Steck had his fair share of near-death experiences. In 2007, he almost died after taking a 1000 ft. (304.8 m.) plunge after a rock hit him in the head, knocking him off balance. However, without giving up, in 2012 he returned to complete the first solo climb of the South Face of Annapurna in Nepal, winning the Piolet d’Or award.

Ueli Steck was married to Nicole Steck, they had no children. Steck was Sponsored by EFG Private Banking, Ssangyong, Air-Lux, Karpos and Vibram. His suppliers included Petzl, Julbo, New Rock, Suunto and MSR.

Famous Ueli Steck Videos

Enjoy the memory of Ueli Steck by watching 5 awe-inspiring videos that made one of the greatest mountaineers a household name:

  1. 2008 Ueli Steck Makes History on North Face of the Eiger
  2. 2012 Ueli Steck Returns to Annapurna to Complete First South Face Solo Climb
  3. 2015 Ueli Steck Reclaims North Face of the Eiger Record
  4. 2016 Ueli Steck in Les Drus “North Couloir Direct”
  5. 2017 Ueli Steck’s Everest-Lhotse Project

Click here to watch them all on one page.


“Climbers’ Bodies ‘frozen in Time’.” NewsComAu. AP News Corp Australia Network, 01 May 2016. Web. 04 May 2017.

Douglas, Ed. “Ueli Steck Obituary.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 01 May 2017. Web. 04 May 2017.

Mettler, Katie. “Ueli Steck, Famed Swiss Mountain Climber, Dead after Plunging 3,280 Feet near Mount Everest.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 01 May 2017. Web. 04 May 2017.

Chavez, Nicole. “Famed Swiss Climber Ueli Steck Dies in Everest Training Accident.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 May 2017. Web. 04 May 2017.

6 responses to “Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse at Age 40

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  6. Pingback: Ueli Steck Cremated and Ashes Split Between Switzerland and Nepal | Base Camp Magazine·

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