Fredrik Sträng is our K2 2017 Watch Pick, and we will be following his expedition on K2 this year through his Dispatches from the mountain. But who is Fredrik Sträng and why does it matter? I felt that in order to really give readers a sense of what Fredrik Sträng is like as a climber and person, we needed some input from Cass Légér, the editor of BCM and Sträng’s point of contact for Dispatches. During my latest meeting with Cass, I lobbied for the quote bits below.
Here’s a glimpse into the life of this incredible climber, with some quotes from Cass Légér, with whom I spoke with this week while trying to get to know Sträng a bit better for this piece.
Who is Fredrik Sträng the Climber?
Fredrik Sträng is a Swedish mountaineer, personal trainer and motivational speaker. He is best known for being one of the survivors of the 2008 K2 tragedy that killed 11 climbers on Summit Day. Most people who hear a connection between a climber and K2 2008 immediately want to ask questions about it and rehash the past. As it is, this event stands as one of the most controversial in mountaineering history.
However, although his actions on the mountain were heroic and commendable, Sträng’s persona goes beyond what happened in 2008. Our editor, who has been his point of contact for dispatches while on his K2 2017 expedition, said:
I don’t ask Sträng about 2008. To me, Sträng is much more than just 2008 on K2, this guy has gone on to do great things and be an exemplary climber. Throughout the years, he has worked with Save the Children to assist families in Nepal, he has been the motivational force behind many who see their goals realized because he told them they could do it. Sträng is level-headed, unencumbered by the disease that is Summit Fever. Sträng is also one of the few mountaineers who is not after fame or numbers. He genuinely enjoys this for what it is, and he retains a humane way about him. Many climbers will tread over you to get to the top, that’s not Sträng.
Of course, 2008 is part of who he is and what makes him the Fredrik Sträng of today. But while everyone asks him about 2008, I prefer not to. I’m more interested in what he’s doing now and his future goals. To not be is to say, “Screw all your hard work and progress, I only care about what happened 10 years ago.” If that was the case, why bother documenting his growth as an athlete? –Cass Légér
Sträng currently lives in Sweden and can be found anywhere in the world when he’s adventuring, including guiding people to remote areas and helping them reach a lifelong dream of a great adventure.
Fredrik Sträng’s Climbing Accomplishments
Sträng was inducted into the Guinness World Records in 2007 for the fastest completion of the Seven Summits done in just 191 days in 2006. He was also the first Swede to do so. In fact, he has been the first Swede to summit Dhaulagiri in 2003 and Makalu, along with Niklas Hallström, in 2009.
Sträng’s sheds some wisdom during his Swedish Annapurna Expedition
He received the designation of Male Adventurer of the Year in 2007 and 2010. His total summits include 7 summits on Kilimanjaro, 2 summits on Elbrus, 3 summits on Mont Blanc and 2 summits on Denali. He has also climbed 8 of the world’s highest mountains, including Everest, Lhotse, Gasherbrum (1 and 2), Cho Oyu last year and Manaslu in 2015.
Sträng has summited peaks all over the world, however, while he may call himself a professional climber, you can more accurately call him a professional adventurer after you realize he’s ventured across the globe experiencing life and culture and doing some climbing, skydiving and canyoning along the way, occasionally, if he spots a waterfall, he’s not above taking a shower in it either. Waterfalls and bodies of water seem like something he really fancies –Cass Légér
This climber’s adventures have taken him high, low and to the seas. In 2003 he set about Shackleton’s trail and sailed over the Drake Passage to Elephant Island and skied across South Georgia.
The following year, in 2004, he set about following Djingis Kahn’s footsteps and traveled across Mongolia on horseback while fishing and canoeing through the paths Kahn had taken.
Both trips could not have been more different from each other, and different from climbing altogether. But that’s just Sträng, he’s not tied down by a formula. All adventure is life in his eyes. –Cass Légér
Who is Fredrik Sträng the Person?
Before choosing a Watch Pick we tend to really get to know the subject and their life through their coverage in publications and what they share with the world. We watch hours of footage and dissect a climber’s underlying personality. The editor handled Sträng’s Watch Pick process personally, getting to know him prior to commencing dispatches. The process becomes more involved when we handle Dispatches, which we explain why in another article.
As I mentioned, I felt that in order to really give readers a sense of what Fredrik Sträng is like as a person, we needed some input from Cass.
Fredrik Sträng may be one of the more underrated climbers in the world. His feats are incredible, but the fact that he is so in tune with himself as a person is part of the reason he is so personable. His achievements are enviable, but when you talk to him, you can’t help but notice Fredrik Sträng the person first before attributing all of his accomplishments to Fredrik Sträng the climber. He’s not obnoxious or ostentatious.
I believe Sträng’s relentless pursuit of absorbing the world has created a character that’s relatable, but at the same time, one that you must get to know more deeply to understand where this incredible drive for life comes from. And it doesn’t really take long. You don’t have to listen to him for more than a few minutes to see that he lives and views life on another level. Most climbers live a life of great solitude for most of their life, which leads them to often not be able to engage or speak well in a way that expresses their emotions, life and thoughts very well. Yet, if you give Sträng 5 minutes, he can dissect his thoughts instantly as he speaks and it comes out like philosophy. Maybe that’s what makes him a good motivational speaker. If you watch a few of his doc videos online, you’ll see what I mean.
Sträng is also a great humanist, he cares for the healing of others and encourages personal growth while finding rational ways to solve human problems.
What Does Fredrik Sträng Do When He’s Not Climbing?
Fredrik makes his living as a personal trainer and he also takes bookings as a motivational speaker. He is constantly encouraging people to go further, to reach their fullest potential in everything that he does.
Fredrik Sträng also serves as a research assistant for studies on decisions in extreme environments for Triple E.D. He is an authorized ACMC Meta-Coach and ICF Sport Coach. Sträng is the founder and project manager for Everest Challenge an incredible obstacle course race.
In one of his most interesting projects, Sträng is the CEO of ACEQ, a conglomerate of solar-powered airships that include Atlas Cargo Airships, the promotional A1 Airship and Solair Quest, a revolutionary concept solar-powered travel airship.
He is also a filmmaker, lending footage from his 2008 K2 expedition to the creators of The Summit, a documentary film covering the tragic events of that same expedition. His own documentary films include The Mystery on Everest [TV4] (2007), 7 Summits [TV4] (2008), and A Cry From the Top of the World (2009).
Fredrik Sträng has also written two books, 7 Mountains, 7 Continents, 7 Months with Albert Bonnier Förlag in 2007 (in Swedish) and K2 – On Life and Death in 2009 (in Swedish). Fredrik is quite a busy man.
At the end of climber profiles, we like to do an overall analysis that includes a fun psych eval. We got this idea from a climber once who said: “If you can understand a climber’s deep frame of mind, all of his incomprehensible actions suddenly become comprehensible.” This statement was proven after a few beta runs with dispatches from expeditions around the world, over time, the attending dispatch monitor in charge of each communication began to develop phycological understandings of each subject.
This time, Cass provides the final analysis on Fredrik Sträng.
If I were to take an analytical approach to Fredrik, I would say that he identifies problems and creates ways to fix them. He advocates for motivation, if there is someone who feels they cannot succeed, he motivates them. He applies mountain logic to team-building approaches for companies and groups. He sees there is a lack of movement and adventure in the world, so he creates Everest Challenge, which is a more centered method of getting people to move. He sees an unused gap in the solar industry for travel and cargo and he fills it with ACEQ.
There’s much more to this person than just a climbing career. Fredrik is one of the few people in this world that have found their purpose whether he knows it or not. Whether you are religious or not, there is no way to deny that humans are on this Earth to explore it, experience it and solve problems that help better the world for all. His life is spent doing just that.
In the few weeks I have studied him, I joke that his persona has made me want to pursue a degree in anthropology or psychology to better understand why more people aren’t like him, and why he is the exception to vast majority – I’ve never encountered someone like this before. His mind is complex, always moving, yet simple. He gains fulfillment in the smallest things the world has to offer, like a shower in a wild waterfall, to the largest – a grueling summit on the highest mountain. I don’t think Fredrik will ever stop seeking to learn something new or dissolving himself into everything this world has to offer. He’s a child of this Earth who happens to be a great climber. And that’s okay. I’ve studied many climbers, there’s a clear difference here.
I’ve never met Sträng in person, so I can’t say for sure, but from what I have seen in others, people like him usually have trouble sleeping, working on only one thing at a time and being home for long periods of time. They tend to lead more solitary lives, without many intimate attachments because its hard to find people with the same view on life and connect. But who knows, he could be a regular social bug. I’ve been wrong about a few of these analyses before. –Cass Légér
To follow our coverage of Fredrik Sträng’s 2017 K2 Expedition visit the Dispatches.
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