Speed Climber Ueli Steck Interview

Swiss Alpinist and speed climber Ueli Steck is famous for his fast and lightweight approach to the world’s hardest and highest mountains. Sponsored by Petzl, Scarpa, Leki and Mountain Hardware, Ueli Steck has set the speed record for the Matterhorn (1 hour 56 minutes), Grandes Jorasses (2 hours 21 minutes) and the North Face of the Eiger (2 hours 47 minutes). Has has also summitted Gasherbrum II (8035m) and soloed Makalu west pillar (8463m).

The Matterhorn is one of the most famous Alpine Mountains
Speed climber Ueli Steck climbed the Matterhorn in 1 hour 56 minutes. Source: Flickr by Jeff Pang.

On Tuesday this week Outside Online published an exciting interview about speed climbing and mountaineering with Ueli Steck.

In the interview Ueli Steck talks about how he got into Alpine climbing and how he trains for different types of climbs. According to Steck the future of climbing is all about speed, since all of the hard challenges have already been done. He says that although speed climbing is not a new sport, it is a kind of game where you can push the limits on high altitude mountains.

People forget something: in climbing, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you do a speed ascent, you’re the fastest up the Eiger’s north face, nothing’s going to change in the world. But maybe your world is going to change. In the evening, when you’re going to bed, you know exactly what you have done.

And that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you climbed the Eiger’s north face in two hours and forty-seven minutes, or in two days. If it’s your challenge, and you’re happy with it, that’s the most important thing. Ueli Steck, Outside Online.

Piolet d’Or – The Oscar of Mountaineering

In 2009 Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten received the prestigious Piolet d’Or Award for their magnificent alpine style first ascent of the north wall of Tengkampoche (6500 m) in Nepal in April 2008. The Piolet d’Or award celebrates the spirit of modern Alpinism and Ueli is particularly pleased to receive it.

The style should take precedence over the conquest of an objective. Success is no longer about getting to the summit at all costs, employing all possible financial and technical means, (oxygen, fixed ropes, doping products, etc) or large-scale human resources (high-altitude porters or sherpas).

The Piolets d’Or event encourages imagination in searching for innovative routes using a maximum of economy of means, making use of experience and respecting man and nature. Piolet d’Or website

Piolet d'Or 2009 Award winners
Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten, Piolet d'Or 2009 Award winners. Photo from http://www.pioletsdor.com 2009 press archives.

Major Achievements – Ueli Steck Biog

  • Born in 1976 in Langnau in the Emmental. Lives in Ringgenberg at Interlaken.
  • 2002 First ascent of Mount Dickey in Alaska.
  • 2005 Solo ascents of the north wall of the Cholatse (6440 m) and the east wall of the Tawoche (6505 m)
  • 2007 Eiger Speed climb in 3 hours 54 minutes
  • 2008 New Eiger Speed Record Time 2 Hours 47 Minutes
  • 2008 First ascent of the north wall Tengkampoche (6500 m)
  • 2008 speed record Grandes Jorasses 2 hours 21 minutes
  • 2009 Speed Record Matterhorn 1 hour 56 minutes
  • 2009 “Piolet d’Or” Award
  • 2009 “Golden Gate” route on El Capitan / USA
  • 2009 ascent of Gasherbrum II (8035 m) in Karakorum, Pakistan
  • 2009 Expedition to Makalu, Nepal

If one looks in the film Ueli Steck climbed the Eiger North Face, you can not trust his eyes. There is a so elegant, experienced, focused and easily packed on the way to the summit as if it be a daily way home. The most incredible thing but in the process is the breathtaking speed with which the man goes up weasel speedy, among them the edge. Perhaps you’re in the wrong movie, it shoots through your mind, and this is Spiderman, which climbs a skyscraper, or you accidentally pressed the fast forward button or this is all a trick. Error. The film depicts only what has happened in reality and dizzying vertical wall. Ueli Steck is one of the world’s best climbers and mountaineers – and he’s the fastest. He has committed all three great north faces of the Alps in record time solo: the Eiger, the Matterhorn and the Grandes Jorasses. Barbara Liebster, www.uelisteck.ch translated using Google Translate.

If you are interested in reading more about climbers and mountaineering then our interviews with Kevin Thaw, Renan Ozturk and the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation will be well worth reading!

Kevin Thaw started his climbing career with a piece of washing line instead of rope. Not recommended! Since acquiring the correct climbing gear, Kevin has gone on to make many successful first ascents in the UK, USA and Patagonia.

Renan Ozturk is not only an accomplished mountaineer, he is also an artist, interacting with the landscape not only through physical climbing but also through mixed media art. Renan has climbed on Mount Meru, in India’s Gangotri Regionre, as well as numerous other ascents in British Columbia, Alaska and Yosemite.

The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) represent mountaineers and climbers across the globe. Their mission statement is to:

preserve their spirit and traditions, advance safe and ethical mountain practices, promote responsible access, culture and environmental protection [as well as] support youth participation and the Olympic movement.

Find out what this actually means in the UIAA interview!


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