Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck was killed Sunday in a mountaineering accident near Mount Everest in Nepal, expedition organizers said. Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks said Steck was killed at Camp 1 of Mount Nuptse. "His body has been retrieved and is being brought to Kathmandu," Sherpa told Reuters. Steck's family said the exact circumstances of his death were still unclear. "The family is infinitely sad and asks that the media refrain from speculating about his death out of respect and consideration for Ueli," it said in a statement on Steck's website, per the AP. Steck was planning to climb 29,035-foot Everest and nearby Mount Lhotse next month. He was the first casualty in Nepal's spring mountaineering season that began in March and will end in May. Hundreds of foreign climbers are on the mountains to attempt to scale Himalayan peaks when there are a few windows of favorable weather.
The 40-year-old Steck was one of the most-renowned mountaineers of his generation. He was best known for his speed-climbing, including setting several records for ascending the north face of the Eiger, a peak in the Bernese Alps he climbed in two hours and 47 minutes without a rope. In 2015, Steck climbed all 82 peaks in the Alps higher than 13,100 feet, traveling between mountains by foot, bike, and paraglider only. He finished the feat in 62 days, cementing his reputation as the "Swiss Machine." "A record is broken again and again, and the world keeps on turning," Steck recently mused. "You are getting older and there comes a time when you have to adjust your projects to your age." Asked about the upcoming expedition, Steck told Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger last month: "Of course I want to climb Everest and Lhotse. But that's a very high goal. Failure for me would be to die and not come home." (Steck last year discovered the bodies of two climbers lost in Tibet in 1999.)