Ueli Steck First Climber to Make Solo Ascent of Annapurna's South Face

By Lorraine Boissoneault
Published: November 11, 2013

This photograph taken in December from an ultra light aircraft shows an aerial view of the Himalayan Mountains featuring Mount Annapurna south range viewing from Pokhara, some 200 kms west of Kathamndu. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck became the first person to make a solo ascent of the south face of Mount Annapurna on Wednesday after attempting to make the summit twice before and nearly dying in one attempt. 

Steck sent a text saying, "Summit, alone, South Face," to the base camp after reaching the top of the 26,545-foot mountain, reported Outside Magazine. The mountaineer quickly made it back down to the base camp after the summit, according to Planet Mountain, although no further details about the historic climb have been made available yet.

The South Face of Annapurna is considered one of the most technically difficult climbs in the world. It includes a 12,000-foot vertical wall of ice, rock and snow and unpredictable avalanches regularly rush down it, says "Annapurna South Face," by Chris Bonington. 

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Steck's successful summit is all the more impressive considering his previous failures, one in 2008 and one in 2007. In his first attempt, Steck was hit by a rockfall and fell close to 1,000 feet, but survived with minor injuries, says In 2008, Steck and his partner Simon Anthamatten were forced to quit their climb in an attempt to save stranded Spanish climber Inaki Ochoa de Olza. With his third attempt, Steck finally realized a goal that he has strived for since his early days as a climber.

"To walk through life in a comfortable way is not my goal," Steck wrote on his blog before leaving for the Annapurna expedition. "That is why I want to try to climb Annapurna a third time. I would like to implement my dreams and visions into reality."

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9 Sep 1999: Canyoning in the Alpes Maritimes in the Provence-Alpes region of France. (Pascal Rondeau/Allsport/Getty Images)

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