Nepal | August 09, 2020

Famed ‘Swiss Machine’ climber Ueli Steck cremated in Mt Everest region

Rajan Pokhrel
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FILE – In this Sept. 11, 2015 file photo Swiss climber Ueli Steck poses for a photo at the foot of a climbing wall in Wilderswil, Canton of Berne, Switzerland. Photo: AP

KATHMANDU: The family and friends on Thursday said a goodbye to the world’s greatest alpinist Ueli Steck who died in an accident near Nuptse Face on Mt Everest last week. The ‘Swiss Machine’ climber was cremated in a private funeral service which was presided over by monks of Tengboche monastery in Solukhumbu.

Fishtail Air Captain Maurizio Folini airlifted the remains of Steck’s body to Tengboche monastery, a sacred place of Buddhist pilgrims, which has been chosen to cremate the body of the famed mountaineer. Wife Nicole Steck, 39, along with parents and a few friends flew to Tengboche from Kathmandu this morning for the funeral service.

Two of Steck’s friends stayed there for two days while returning from the Everest base camp to attend the legend’s cremation.

The monastery is situated at an altitude of 3,860m inside the Sagarmatha National Park, the UNESCO heritage site, in Khumbu region, the legendary climber loved much the region as his home away from home, according to Steck’s climbing partner Tenji Sherpa, who was also present during a very private ritual lasted for a couple of hours.

With an overpowering show of love and pride, we felt the mountain range seen kissing, touching him and running along side the coffin, Sherpa described the scene. The legendary Swiss alpinist died on April 30 after he fell some 1,000 m on Mt Nuptse where he headed for a training to prepare himself for a record climb on Mt Everest.

At least nine Buddhist monks led by the head of the monastery with flowing maroon ropes delivered a sermon and offered prayers for nearly three hour before Steck’s remains were cremated , he added. “Except lamas, there were only 14 persons including 10 from abroad who were present in the funeral ceremony,” he said, adding that none of the other outsiders including locals were allowed to visit the scene.

According to Dendi Sherpa, Managing Director, Royal Orchid Treks and Expedition, which organised the expedition, Steck’s family and friends returned to Kathmandu from Tengboche late in the afternoon. “But, we will return tomorrow,” he told THT over phone from Tengboche.

Climbing logistics, the Steck’s expedition left at Mt Everest base camp, were also airlifted top Kathmandu while family will be departing to Switzerland after a week, according to Sherpa. The cremated remains (ashes) will also be sent to Switzerland to pay a final tribute to the legend in his home country.

Issuing a statement in Zurich, spokesperson for Steck family Andreas Bantel shared that Nicole expressed her heartfelt thanks to the monks and monastery family for their dignified way of saying goodbye to Ueli Steck.

“The family also intends to hold a funeral service in Switzerland for friends, acquaintances and professional colleagues of Steck as well as for the general public,” the statement read, “The family felt funeral ceremony as solemn and impressive, sad and at the same time liberating in Tengboche.”

Steck, 41 along Tenji, 27, set out a plan to attempt to climb Mt Everest by never repeated West Ridge/Hornbein Couloir route without using supplemental oxygen in the spring climbing season and also to make a descend to the South Col before taking the once climbed direct route just below the Lhotse Face to obtain that summit record.




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