Extreme Skier Fredrik Ericsson Falls to Death on K2

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The daring life and times of Swedish pro-skier Fredrik Ericsson ended Friday when he fell to his death while attempting to scale and then ski K2, the world's second tallest mountain.

"Fredrik was fixing rope to the rock ... when he lost purchase and was unable to arrest his fall," David Schipper, a friend of Ericsson's, wrote in a blog post explaining the incident on the deceased skier's website. "This happened some time between 7 and 8 AM. Later it was determined he fell about 1000m [3,280 ft.] and did not survive."

The ambitious, adventurous and some would say insanely risky athlete perished while undertaking one part of his multifaceted ultimate goal: to become the first person in the world to ski all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters, including the world's three tallest -- Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga -- none of which has any actual delineated ski trails.

Of course, Ericsson realized from the get-go that his objective was massively risky. When he conceived of the idea back in 2008, he noted that in addition to having to scale the already extremely difficult mountains with ski equipment, descending the slopes for hours at a time would prove far more challenging than in any other place in the world. "To ski at 8,000 meters [26,246 ft.] is not easy," he was quoted by Snow24. "It's extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I'm as exhausted as after skiing 1,000 vertical meters in the Alps."

Ericsson was intimately familiar with the prospect of sudden death, having witnessed it several times on previous expeditions, including one to K2 last year, when his friend and fellow mountaineer Michele Fait died after crashing into a canyon wall during descent.

Of course, Ericsson and Fait are not alone in having met their end at the top of the world. "Two hundred ninety-nine people have successfully summited K2, compared to the 4,000-plus Everest summiters. Seventy-eight have died during their K2 attempts," noted ESPN.

And though Ericsson didn't live to achieve his goal, on top of the world is precisely where he will remain. His body is "resting at about 7000m [22,965 ft.]," wrote Schipper. "His parents have requested it remain in the mountains he loved. Retrieval would be exceptionally dangerous."


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