Ueli Steck | Team Petzl

Ueli Steck

The spirit of climbing: "I grew up close to the mountains and started climbing at 12 years old. I discovered the cliffs alone, by myself, which was a big accomplishment. Mountaineering is the perfect place to think and learn. The rules are simple and very clear. I like that, it’s easy to understand. If you don’t bring a sleeping bag that’s warm enough, you’ll be cold. If you’re not strong enough, you won’t succeed in the ascent. It’s important for me to share the good spirit of climbing with other people. I like to be with people who pay attention to the way they climb. The style, the attitude, the way in which of the ascents areconducted, are all very important facets of a climb."

Ueli Steck

Profile of Ueli

  • Date of birth : October 4 1976
  • Current status : Professional mountaineer
  • Hometown : Ringgenberg, Switzerland
  • Activities : Mountaineering, Ice climbing
  • Training : Carpenter
  • Joined the Petzl Team : January 1 2007

Presentation

Focus on excellence

"I am a multidiscipline climber. I love rock but also ice and my primary objective is to be at ease in the big mountains, like for example the Himalaya and beyond. I want to be at ease in all facets of climbing in which I may find myself, from the easiest to the most extreme. I love to push myself and test myself against nature, but I do not like to compete against other climbers. My biggest problem is finding the balance between pushing myself enough and risk.  Finding that balance feels a little bit like a game. The important question is ‘How do you weigh this balance?’ and not ‘Why do I risk my life?’ I accept a high level of risk, but within the limits of my ability. Trying to master something that is essentially uncontrollable is not easy to manage. From my experience in the Himalaya I have learned that you have to be very fast while you are onsighting and climbing in more and more difficult terrain. To me, to master this game seems like a focus on excellence. My primary goal is to strengthen my mental game, and I’m happy to live an intense life. It’s by forging that one becomes a blacksmith. A climber becomes a Himalayan expert step by step. To be able to think of setting speed records while soloing I have to improve at both rock climbing and ice climbing, and above everything else, endurance. I train almost every day just above where I live by running or ski touring 1600 meters of elevation gain."

Photos

Videos

Video playlist featuring Ueli Steck

Himalaya

"I like Nepal and the Himalayas a lot. They are real mountains and I like to be there. We have to hike multiple days to arrive at base camp because there are no cars. If we want to go somewhere or visit someone, we goon foot. I like the country’s culture. The people are optimistic even if their life is very hard. In general, I like people with a lot of character. People who actively choose their own lives, not people who follow others."  

To keep growing

"I need to renew myself regularly and spend some time at home, just to have a few moments of calm and be able to concentrate on a dream. But I am also very determined. If I have an idea, I go for it. My main source of inspiration is a thirst for learning. Knowledge offers freedom. To acquire this knowledge, you have to learn. To be free, you have to be at ease and to be at ease you have to train often and hard. To become proficient in many disciplines, at a high level, you have to understand the sport completely, you have to be passionate and you have to accept, above all, that you might find yourself feeling at times like a beginner, like a student, and to continue to learn. This is important to understand if you wish to be good at many disciplines and your primary objective is success."  

My motto

"Everything I can imagine, is possible."

Major ascents

Mountaineering

  • West Face of Pumori (Nepal) (7161m) with Ueli Bühler, 2001
  • Mount Dickey (Alaska) 2001
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland) "The Young Spider" with Stephan Siegrist, 2001
  • North Face of Jannu (Nepal). Two attempts in 2003
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland) "La Vida es Silbar". Free with Stephan Siegrist, 2003
  • North Face of the Eiger, the Mönch and Jungfrau (Switzerland). Link up in less than 25 hours, 2004
  • Wendenstöcke (Switzerland) "Silberfinger" and "Pilier Excalibur". Solo, 2004
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland). Solo in winter, 2004
  • North Face of Cholatse (Nepal) (1500m/6440m). First solo ascent completed in 37 hours, 2005 
  • East Face of Tawoche (Nepal) (6505m). First ascent solo, 2005
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland) "The Young Spider".Second ascent and first solo ascent, 2006
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland) "Direct Route", 2006
  • East Summit of Gasherbrum II (Pakistan) "Magic Line" (7710 m) 2006
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland) "Heckmair Route". Solo in 3 hours and 54 minutes, 2007 
  • West Face of Pumori(Nepal) (7161m). Solo in 24 hours round trip, 2007
  • North Face of the Eiger (Switzerland). Speed climbed solo in record 2 hours, 47 minutes and 33 seconds.13 February 2008
  • North Face of Tengkampoche (Khumbu Valley, Nepal) "Checkmate" (2000m/ altitude 6500m/VI, 85° ice, M7+/6A0) April 2008. (Ueli Steck and his partner Simon Anthamatten were awarded the Piolet d’Or in 2009 for this first ascent)
  • Grandes Jorasses (Mont Blanc Range) "Colton Macintyre". Speed record of 2 , 21 minutes) 2009
  • North Face of the Matterhorn(Italy). Speed recordof 1 hour, 56 minutes. 2009
  • Yosemite (USA) "Golden Gate", "California Sun" 2009
  • Gasherbrum II (Pakistan) (8035 m) 2010
  • Makalu (Nepal) (8485 m) 2010

Other information

Publications

  • National Geographic: Solo, Ueli Steck, 2005
  • National Geographic: Speed, Ueli Steck, September 2010

Included in this article

Arnaud Petit Giving meaning to my passion : "I like doing things right, even if it takes time. Generally, my most significant projects come to me in a passionate, spur-of-the-moment manner, without planning, shaped by the people I've met and the activities I’m doing at the time. Once this happens, the project provides meaning to my life and becomes the most important thing, as if it had always existed. I want to discover new places, new people, and share what I've understood about, and learned from, climbing. I like meeting other climbers, and the mutual encouragement we provide each other. I like that there's an atmosphere, moxie, and emulation among climbers, even if we're not on the same routes." Aljaž Anderle Still stoked after twenty years of ice climbing : "The passion for the sport, a love of life, a certain ethic, commitment, a desire to explore, the desire to improve… Climbing gives meaning to my life. In short, that is who I am. Every person carries within himself the opportunity to live a happy life in harmony with what he loves and I try in every way I can to be that kind of person. As such, Petzl has always been an important partner, not only for their sponsorship but also for their friendship and philosophy. I try to explore and push my limits. A bit like the film “Le Grand Bleu”, I tend to look for what’s on the other side to understand the significance of what’s possible and, at the same time, the meaning of life." Antony Lamiche A need for freedom and pure air : "My star sign is Cancer. I have my head in the clouds. My life is a constant search for physical and mental well being in the natural environment, with passionate people who exude energy. I like to share beautiful stories through photo and film, with joy and good humor. In terms of activities, bouldering is my guiding line, but climbing at crags and in the mountains have always been an important part of my life. Climbing is the most natural form of movement that exists. It’s thanks to my climbing that I live in the most beautiful places in the world endlessly discovering and meeting… I am hooked on climbing, all of it makes me happy. Skiing also, because powder skiing is an instant pleasure. In short, what I like the most and what I’m best at are bouldering, skiing and eating." Martina Čufar Imaginary and real: "In his book The Alchemist, Paul Coelho says, "When you want something, all the universe conspires to help us achieve our dream." There is truth in that quote. For example, a photo of a wall inspires me and I do everything to fulfill my dream of climbing it."