Swedish climber and extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson was killed on Friday while attempting to reach the summit of 28,253 feet K2, the second highest mountain in the world, in Pakistan. The 31-year-old Ericsson, on a quest to ski from the summits of the three highest mountains in the world, planned to ski down K2 after reaching the top.
Little news has been released but the Austrian news agency APA reports that Ericsson was climbing with Austrian mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner when he slipped somewhere above the Bottleneck and fell over 3,000 feet. Kaltenbrunner, who is trying to become the first woman to climb the fourteen 8,000-meter peaks without oxygen, turned around and safely climbed down to Camp Four on the shoulder and then continued down to Base Camp far below.
Ralf Dujmovits, Kaltenbrunner's husband, said in a statement earlier today: "A sad accident unfortunately occurred early this morning during the climb up to the K2 summit. Gerlinde was able to return to Camp IV on the shoulder of K2, and she is now on her way down." No other details about the accident were given today out of respect for Ericsson's family.
Apparently other climbers on the Shoulder or below turned around or elected not to make a summit attempt today. The weather forecast was good, with mostly clear skies and light winds, so Kaltenbrunner and Ericsson headed toward the top. The forecast, however, was wrong and a storm moved in.
It's not known right now why Ericsson fell but other climbers say that there are many avalanches as well as lots of rock fall on K2 right now. Christian Stangle, one of the other climbers, wrote on his website, "It's snowing, the avalanches go off-and the relatively high temperatures loosen the stones from the slopes...I feel my health is more important than the summit."
It's very sad and unfortunate incident. Fredrik Ericsson was an amazing athlete and skier and was living his dream. It's also a tragedy for Gerlinde Katlenbrunner in her quiet quest to summit the 8,000ers by fair means, but I know she'll be back up there again on K2. I'll write more as information is released.
Photograph above: Fredrik Ericsson climbing on Laila Peak. Photograph courtesy www.fredrikericsson.com