Rest in Peace Ueli Steck
It is a strange thing, how the death of someone we’ve never met can have such an affect on us. Last year could easily be remembered for the year of the celebrity death, as the world lost several high profile stars. Outpourings of grief and pop-up vigils were common place as people felt the need to honour the artists that had made such a profound impact on their lives. This blog is my small thank you to a man that I classed as a hero and inspiration in Ueli Steck, “The Swiss Machine”, Alpinist and Mountaineer.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I reached for my phone and opened up Facebook, and there at the top of my newsfeed was a picture of Ueli Steck, my eyes hadn’t even fully focussed but my stomach tightened and heart sank as I thought “Oh no, please God no”, before, inevitably, I saw the headline I was dreading: “Ueli Steck killed in Everest accident”.
Whilst it may not seem a shock to many people to hear that someone had died whilst attempting to climb Mount Everest, to anyone aware of Ueli Steck and his achievements, I can assure you it was a total shock. Ueli had taken mountaineering and Alpinism to new levels. He’d pushed the boundaries of what was possible and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest if not the greatest mountaineer of all time.
Some people can never understand what draws people to mountains and believe they are risking their lives, and selfish to do so whilst their families are left to worry and deal with the consequences should something go wrong. Whilst there are risks, they are always calculated, even though accidents can still happen. Most people live their lives thinking “it won’t happen to me”, that they will live into their old age and die peacefully one night in their sleep but it is often not the case. We simply don’t know our own fate and waiting around in ignorance will leave you with a lifetime of regrets. The bigger risk is not in death but in not really living. Imagine that the doctor told you tomorrow you had 3 months to live, how would you react? Ueli lived more in the 41 years he spent on earth than most people do that reach their 80’s. Waiting to die is not living, getting out there and experiencing the beauty, majesty, and awe that this planet has to offer will always make more sense to me, as the saying goes “A ship is safe in the harbour but that is not what ships are built for”. I’d rather die finding out than sitting around waiting. This is the reason Ueli was so special, even accomplished mountaineers look at what he achieved and wouldn’t think of trying it. He was a pioneer that went beyond what anyone could ever imagine was possible. People like Ueli push the human race forward, they open our eyes and minds to what is possible and he will forever remain a source of inspiration.
Ueli did not die in vain, it is not a waste of a life. His was a life to be celebrated. He died in love, in a place that he loved, doing what he loved, supported by those he loved that loved him too.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and despite having never met him, I’d just like to say “Thank you Ueli for the life you lived”.