Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson's Partner Michele Fait dies on K2

Tragedy struck Fredrik Ericsson's attempt to be the first to ski K2 (8611m), known to be one of the most deadly mountains in the world. Michele and Fredrik were on a second day of acclimating and skiing on K2.
Vinicio Stefanello, editor of PlanetMountain, wrote: "Michele was a good man. This was my first thought when, this morning, it was confirmed that Michele Fait had fallen to his death between Camps 2 and 1 at roughly 6400m while skiing down the Cesen route on K2. His skis slipped on a sheet of ice and then hit some rocks, catapulting him down to the base of the wall. More than a thousand meters left no chance for survival. News of the tragedy was confirmed Fredrik Ericsson, the Swedish skier who planned to descend K2 together with Fait. The two mountaineers had spent a night at Camp 2 at circa 6400/6500m and had started their descent which then proved fatal for Fait".
Sean Wisedale, the first African to climb the highest mountain on each continent, is currently one of four expeditions up on K2. He reported on his blog: "Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson and Italian Michele Fait were attempting to be the first to ski down K2. This morning, the weather was perfect – which was of no benefit to Fait. On the descent, the worst scenario possible happened - Fiat plummeted. Ericsson was skiing lower down the slopes and after he had seen Fiat fall, began to haul upwards to get to him. At Base Camp we watched, unsure if the fall had been fatal or not. We started to construct a make-do stretcher and prepare to assist with the rescue effort. Our leader Fabrizio headed out back up the middle of the glacier and we watched as Ericsson and Fabrizio reached Fait’s limp body 20 minutes later and began to lower him down to the base of the route. The slopes are avalanche prone and as the pair descended, Fabrizio then approached them from below. There is no way to safely recover Fait’s body today…he is secured on the slope. Fabrizio and Ericsson descended to base camp and we will attempt to recover his body tomorrow at first light".
This morning, Wisedale posted this about the recovery of Fait's body: "We left base camp at 07h00 this morning for the foot of the Cesen route to recover Michele Fait’s body. The weather was perfect but there was a wind building from the west. Wim, Wilky, Jake, Fabrizio, Tunc, Dave, Fredrik (Michele’s skiing partner), Dave from the German expedition and I set out. On the walk in we could see Michele’s body lying on the slope. The details of the recovery are grim, save to say his body is wrapped and buried. 10 strong men stood in respect of a fellow mountaineer. Fredrik wept at the passing of his friend".
Sometimes life and adventure in the mountains could be really hard. A few days ago Fredrik's wrote: " The next morning both Michele and I woke up with a headache and it was blowing and snowing outside. Great! After breakfast and a bit of fresh air my headache was gone but Michele must have caught some altitude illness since he didn't get well until we were back in base camp. After chilling in our tent for a few hours it stopped snowing and cleared up so we put our skis on and started sliding down the mountain. We took it easy in the beginning since I am always a bit unsecure on a new mountain especially when it is steep and rocks around. The snow was better than we had expected, cold and just a little windpacked and it was sloughing a bit. When the slope opened up I could do bigger turns and carry more speed, just cruising down the mountain. I had a big smile on my face, cause even if only a third of the mountain, we were skiing on K2. I got 900 vertical meters of nice skiing before I, totally euphoric, took my skis off 30 meters from my tent in BC. I had just skied the coolest ski slope in the world".