Extreme Skier Fredrik Ericsson Dies in K2 Attempt

Pakistan – It has now been confirmed that Swedish high-altitude skier Fredrik Ericsson died in a fall on Friday during his latest attempt to ski the world’s second highest peak.nEricsson, 31, was in northern Pakistan attempting to climb and ski from the 28,251-foot summit of K2 when he slipped and fell over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) to his death. His partner Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, attempting to become the first woman to to summit the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, retreated to safety following the incident.

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The planned routes of Frederik Ericsson’s ski descent of K2, the world’s second highest mountain.
(photo: Frederik Ericsson)

K2 has an abnormally high mortality rate amongst the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, with one in four who attempt its summit never returning.

According to Ericsson’s expedition, he along with partners Kaltenbrunner and Trey Cook left camp 4 at around 1:30 a.m. Friday morning. Because of the worsening weather, the other six mountaineers at camp 4 remained in their tents. Karl Gabl, the expedition weatherman, had forecasted that the wind and poor visibility would clear during the day so the three climbers stuck to schedule. Kaltenbrunner checked in at 7 a.m. from the bottom of the Bottleneck, reporting only they were continuing the ascent, still in poor visibility and a cold wind. At this point Cook turned around to return to camp 4.

Ericsson fell one hour later past Kaltenbrunner, possibly while placing an anchor. Looking for him in the whiteout, she found only one of his skis. Kaltenbrunner descended alone and met up with climbers Darek Zaluski and Fabrizio Zangrilli at around 9 a.m., who had come up to help.

Meanwhile Russian Yura Ermachek had descended off the shoulder toward camp III for a view of the ascent route. He spotted Fredrik’s lifeless body and backpack about 400 meters above camp 3. Traversing to the body would be extremely risky and Ericsson’s father decided at 4 p.m. local time to leave his son there with his favorite view of the Chogolisa and Laila peaks.

Ericsson was one of the world’s leading high altitude skiers with ski descents of some of the highest mountains on earth, including Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. His larger goal was to ski the world’s three highest peaks — Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga.

“I have already skied on five mountains higher than 8000 meters,” Ericsson explained while launching his latest expedition. “During these adventures I gained critical experience that will apply towards my goal of skiing the absolute highest. The project spans two years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world: K2 (8612m) this summer, Mount Everest (8850m) in autumn 2010, and Kangchenjunga (8586m) in autumn 2011.”

In an earlier attempt on K2 last June, Ericcson’s partner, Frenchman Michele Fait, perished in a fall while skiing K2’s C2 on the south-southeast spur.

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