On Sunday, April 17, 34-year-old Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck made an astounding 10½ hour solo ascent of the 6,000-foot-high south face of 26,289-foot (8,013-meter) Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world.
Steck, on his ninth Himalayan expedition, spent two days in base camp before climbing to advanced base camp at the base of the wall with partner Canadian Don Bowie. Bowie, however, felt ill and was not yet acclimatized so Steck decided to take advantage of the good weather window and do the face alone. Steck was in great shape, having already climbed Cobuche and Cholatse in Nepal with American alpinist Freddie Wilkinson.
Leaving camp at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, Steck started climbing and 10½ hours later was back at camp after reaching the summit of his third 8,000-meter peak.
Ueli Steck, renowned for his quick ascents of the great faces in the Alps including The Eiger Nordwand, the north face of The Matterhorn, and the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, is bringing his fast and light ethic to the world's biggest mountains. Steck has emerged as the natural successor to Reinhold Messner and his ethic of climbing mountains by "fair means."
Watch amazing film of Ueli Steck Speed Climbing in the Alps.
Photograph above: Ueli Steck pauses on a fast ascent of The Eiger in 2007. Photograph courtesy Ueli Steck.